Rio Rancho’s Madigan to Turn Pro at N.M. Open 0 5

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) Sept. 12, 2011 — Former New Mexico State University all-WAC standout Tim Madigan turns professional at this week’s Santa Ana Star Casino New Mexico Open.

In the 2011 U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills, Wisc., his last event as an amateur, Madigan lost in the round of 32 to Sunil Jung of South Korea 5 & 4.

At the New Mexico event, to be held at Santa Ana Golf Club starting Tuesday, Madigan joins a field packed with New Mexicans or players from elsewhere with strong New Mexico connections.

In the field are Notah Begay III, Jesse Barnsley, Trent Romann, Steve Saunders, Marty Sanchez, Chris Wall, Madalitso Muthiya, Miguel Griego, Steve Manning, Steven Haskins, Greg Condon, Bill Harvey, Carville Bourg, Marcos Molina, Dominic Curran, Zach Hoefel, Jon Jaress, Alex Estrada, Wil Collins, Kevin Amhaus, Brandon Gentile, Adam Roybal, Colby Reddoch and Javier Chavez.

In other news …

The Mountain West Golfscapes Pro-am at the University of New Mexico, originally set for Sept. 19, has been cancelled.

— Dan Vukelich

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Sierra Del Rio to Shutter for Two Months 0 35

Sierra del Rio Golf Course

Sierra Del Rio Golf Course, which restricted play in December to Thursday through Sunday only, will close for two months after the New Year.

The temporary closure of the 18-hole Elephant Butte golf course was announced in an email Sunday. The golf course’s food and beverage operation, also will close. Plans are to reopen on March 1, the course said.

“The course is in reasonably good condition but we want it to be in the best shape possible when we reopen,” a golf shop employee said Sunday. Maintenance crews will devote the downtime to earth and drainage work to repair damage to native areas off the playing surfaces caused by heavy rains in September, the employee said.

Sierra Del Rio, a Richard Phelps design, is the centerpiece of a retirement- and second-home community near the Rio Grande in Southern New Mexico. Its director of golf is Guy Wimberly, who retired to Elephant Butte after decades running Arroyo Del Oso Golf Course in Albuquerque. Wimberly had no comment on the closure on Sunday.

Sierra Del Rio reduced playing days earlier this month. Winter is typically playable in Southern New Mexico, where daily highs reach into the 50s and 60s.

Sierra Del Rio is part of the Turtleback Mountain Resort. It opened in 2007 on the footprint of the old Oasis Golf Resort and is the nearest golf course to Spaceport America, where Virgin Galactic plans to fly tourists to the edge of space.

The renovated course and new homes built near it provided a boost to the local economy, but homebuilding and rounds played suffered following the 2008 housing collapse.

Dan Vukelich is editor of Reach him at