UNM Championship GC Future Still in Doubt 0 3

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) March 24, 2011 — The UNM Championship Golf Course is on the bubble going into a March 28 UNM Board of Regents meeting that could decide whether the 18-hole course stays open or is closed, developed or sold off.

This week’s announcement that UNM students face an 8 percent tuition hike doesn’t help the course’s prospects. Last year, a UNM president’s task force recommended the golf course be closed or sold to eliminate a continuing annual deficit in golf operations.

The task force contemplated no action involving the 9-hole North course.

A UNM spokesman told New Mexico Golf News.com this week no decisions about the Championship Course have been made, elaborating as follows:

“While the New Mexico Legislature has adjourned, UNM must now pull it’s budget together. The UNM Board of Regents will meet on Monday, March 28, to begin budget discussions as well as a likely tuition hike, which could offset some of the cuts.

“Ultimately, they approve UNM’s budget. Stay tuned to the local news on Monday. While it may not be finalized, I’m sure some news will come out of the regents meeting.”

— Dan Vukelich

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Sierra Del Rio to Shutter for Two Months 0 30

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 NewMexicoGolfNews.com. Reach him at dan@newmexicogolfnews.com.