UNM Championship Golf Course Avoids Closure, Sale

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) April 12, 2011 — The University of New Mexico Championship Golf Course appears to have avoided the direst of fates — closure or sale — in the coming year.

“The Championship Course has been revamping its business model, and anticipates that it will come close to break even next fiscal year,” UNM spokeswoman Susan McKinsey said Tuesday afternoon.

“There is no closure or sale anticipated at this time,” McKinsey wrote in an e-mail response to an inquiry by NewMexicoGolfNews.com.

McKinsey’s statement followed a meeting Tuesday of the UNM Board of Regents at which student tuition and fees were increased by 5.5 percent for the 2011-2012 budget year.

With the tuition picture made clearer, the regents meet again on April 29 to hammer out more details of the university’s budget for the coming year.

Sources familiar with the UNM budget process said the university has agreed to reduce the administrative overhead it charges the golf course and its maintenance contractor has reduced maintenance charges for the coming year.

The combination roughly balances out the golf course’s 2011-2012 operating budget. The accumulated $4.6 million deficit the course “owes” to UNM over its 40-plus year history remains on the books.

Last last year, a budget-cutting task force reporting to UNM President David Schmidly recommended closing or selling the course along with a shedding of other non-core functions of UNM — as a way to address what was projected to be a $28 million campus-wide deficit for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

McKinsey, asked about details of the course’s finances, said she had no further information. Nor did she elaborate on what revamping of the course’s business model would entail.

It is likely that UNM will enlist an outside agency, a golf management consultant such as the National Golf Foundation, to perform an analysis of where the course fits into the market and what can be done to make it profitable.

Since UNM “South,” as it was known for years, opened in 1967, the opening of Indian casino courses north and south of Albuquerque have eroded its customer base. A decline in golf participation across the city was exacerbated by the recession. For our earlier coverage, click here.

— Dan Vukelich

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