College Men

New Mexico course in debt, on brink of closure

The University of New Mexico's Championship Golf Course.
The University of New Mexico's Championship Golf Course. ( Contributed photo )

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.

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. readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.