Two Sun Country Courses on Best Muni List 0 4

(ORLANDO) May 12, 2011 — Two Sun Country region golf courses have made it to the top five of GolfWeek’s “Best Municipal Courses” list for 2010-2011.

Butterfield Trail Golf Club in El Paso comes in at No. 3 on the magazine’s compilation. Pinon Hills Golf Course in Farmington comes in at No. 4.

The two courses are in esteemed company. Bethpage State Park (Black) in Farmingdale, N.Y.,  is No. 1, followed by Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Wash., at No. 2.

Rounding out the top 10 are: No. 5, Torrey Pines (South), La Jolla, Calif.; No. 6, TPC Scottsdale (Stadium), Scottsdale, Ariz.; No. 7, Arrowhead Pointe, Elberton, Ga.; No. 8, Indian Wells Golf Resort (Players), Indian Wells, Calif.; No. 9. Highlands of Elgin, Elgin, Ill.; No. 10, Memorial Park, Houston.

The magazine’s list is recognition is that golf in New Mexico and West Texas ranks among the best and most affordable golf in the United States. The entire list is at GolfWeek.

— 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