New Mexico course in debt, on brink of closure
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The fairways of the University of New Mexico’s Championship Golf Course are running red – with debt, that is.
The Albuquerque layout, No. 13 on “Golfweek’s Best” Campus Courses list, has accumulated a $4.6 million deficit and is among assets under consideration by an advisory committee to be shuttered to close a reported $28 million schoolwide budget shortfall.
University of New Mexico Championship Golf Course
Views of the New Mexico Championship Golf Course.
The course averages “about 34,000” rounds annually, according to director of golf George Trujeque. That’s down from a high of 60,000 in the early 1990s, he said. The strategy of raising green fees to reduce play at a course that had begun to show wear worked all too well, in part because of competition from newer, high-quality daily-fee courses in the area.
With green fees now set at $20-$39 for UNM students and $52-$70 for others, the course still runs an annual operating deficit of $400,000. The maintenance budget, including upkeep of the school’s on-campus nine-hole North Course, comes to $1.3 million a year. An aging cast-iron irrigation system, balky septic system and antiquated heating and cooling add maintenance “baggage,” Trujeque said.
The course, home to the Lobos men and women, has been a championship destination in the high-desert Southwest. Notably, the 1978 PGA Tour Q-School and five Division I NCAA Championships – the men in 1976, 1992 and 1998 and the women in 1987 and 2008 – have been played at UNM. The day after that 2008 women’s event, the course’s electrical power station blew out, requiring $800,000 in repairs.