Golf courses on the rebound after years of struggling

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – After years of struggling, four city golf courses are starting to see a big uptick in people playing the game. City officials say the increase is because of major upgrades made to the courses and the pandemic.

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Four years ago, an independent study made a handful of recommendations to the city after losing $1.5 million maintaining them. One of those recommendations was to close one of the four courses but instead, The city decided to make some much-needed upgrades, a choice they say is now paying off.

“I think municipal golf courses are enjoying a great period of resurgence,” said David Simon, the director of the Parks and Recreation Department for the city. “I think part of that is because over the last few years The city has been working very hard to improve the care and improve player experience,” said Simon.

That 2017 study also suggested buying a minimum of $500,000 of new maintenance equipment, every year, and instead of changing a flat rate at each of the courses, they recommended changing the prices based on the quality of each course.

In the past four years, The city has purchased more than $1 million in equipment for the four courses, they’ve also made irrigation upgrades and removed more than 3,500 gophers from Ladera Golf Course.

In the last fiscal year, more than 250,000 rounds of golf have been sold, that’s up by nearly 62,000 since fiscal year 2019. One golfer says it’s gotten increasingly difficult to book a time.

“When my buddies and I go, one of us will get up at 5:30, 6 in the morning when the course clubhouse opens, and we’ll have someone try to call,” said Jourdan McNeal.

The city says for the first time in years, the golf revenue exceeded the operational budget. Simon says they’re on track this year to surpass the number of rounds sold last year. Simon says closing one of the courses, while recommended has never been an option, regardless of the revenue being made, the courses are important to residents’ quality of life.

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