UNM Championship Golf Course Avoids Closure, Sale 0 6

(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

Previous ArticleNext Article

Leave a Reply

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.