After spending $2 million to renovate its irrigation system, the city of Albuquerque, N.M. is now closing the front nine of the 33-year-old course for several months to replace turf.
The city of Albuquerque, N.M.’s Parks and Recreation department said it would close the front nine holes at Ladera Golf Course for several months starting July 8 to replace turf, plant new drought-resistant plants and resurface cart pathways, along with some other work, television station KRQE reported.
The new work, which will cost $500,000 and close the front nine for at least 90 days, comes after the city spent $2 million to renovate Ladera’s irrigation system, KRQE reported.
And after the latest work is complete on the front nine, the city will close the back nine in March 2014 to begin $250,000 of similar work, KRQE reported.
The timing of the front-nine project will also have an especially big impact on revenues, the station noted, because July and August are some of the busiest months at the city’s golf courses.
Even after the city spent the $2 million to renovate the irrigation system, the 33-year old course has still had a tough time growing grass and other plants, KRQE reported. Many trees are dying on the course, several patches of grass are also missing, and the course’s first hole has been closed for months due to the poor health of the surrounding vegetation, the station said.
“It does need a little help, and as you kind of dive into things, you find other issues,” David Salas, superintendent for Albuquerque’s four city-owned golf courses, told KRQE. Ladera still needs work, he added, as the most disadvantaged course in the city’s portfolio.
The latest round of improvements will be “a total renovation [of] the fairways, greens, tees, rough, native barriers, tree replacement [and] cart paths,” Salas said.
In 2007, KRQE reported, city voters approved bonds providing $750,000 for course improvements, and in 2009 another bond issue was approved to dedicate another $2 million to the course.
According to city records, the course usually collects about $1.6 million each year in greens fees and concessions, KRQE reported. But the mayor’s office noted that “rounds are down” as of recent months.
When the station asked the Albuquerque mayor’s office for its response to the notion that the course has become a “money pit,” a statement was supplied that read: “Ladera Golf Course is ideally situated on the Westside where we anticipate the city to grow in the coming decades. … (O)ur goal is to make improvements, like these, that will bring the operation back to being self-supporting.”
Salas also told KRQE that he’s not ready to give up on the course either, citing a goal of “[getting] the golf course back in a competitive stature with all of the other golf courses.”
But golfers who use Ladera that were interviewed by KRQE were quick to point out problems that still exist.
“Some of the fairways need the majority of the focus,” said Felipe Mares, who said he has golfed at Ladera multiple times a week for around six years.
“You can tell there’s not attention going to all areas,” added Zack Herrera, who also said he is a frequent Ladera golfer. “It’s discouraging to see now and then that so much is being put into it, but they’re getting much of it back.”
These golfers also expressed hope that the course could be turned around.
“It’s too early in the course being brought back to life to determine that it’s not effective yet,” said Mares.
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