UNM May Drop “Championship” From Name 0 4

(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) Nov. 3, 1011 — The University of New Mexico Championship Golf Course is likely to drop the word “championship” from its name after a focus group suggested the name implies that the golf course is “too hard” or it is an “elitist” golf course.

That was one likely outcome of an afternoon-long round-robin brainstorming session held at the golf course last week. Participants included about two dozen invited friends of the golf course, alumni and others who were asked to give their thoughts about the course, its branding, the quality of its customer service, pricing structure and overall position in the Albuquerque golf market.

UNM has been under pressure to increase revenues to minimize or eliminate the need for university subsidies. Despite threats to sell or close the course, earlier this year, the UNM Board of Regents agreed to stay the course for the time being, but pressure to turn around the course’s poor financial picture is likely to continue into next year.

It’s possible the golf course could revert to its old name, “The UNM South Course,” which differentiates it from the 9-hole “North Course” located on the UNM campus.

There was word at the focus group, dubbed a “golf summit” by UNM administrators who organized it, that the food and beverage service vendor at the UNM Student Union may be asked to relinquish F &B  duties at the golf course, allowing officials to put out a request for proposals for a new operator at the golf course’s grill.

UNM South changed its name to the Championship Course in the early 2000s after hosting an NCAA championship and a Nike Tour Championship. Despite the change, locals largely have continued to refer to the course by its old name.

— 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.