The New Mexico State University Golf Course has been open for 56 years and continues to bring unique experiences to students, faculty and the public.
The Golf Course opened in 1962 and has been a continuing resource for the NMSU golf teams, the Professional Golfers’ Association Golf Management program and faculty and students looking for a pastime.
The NMSU PGA Golf Management program works closely with the course. Pat Gavin, the program director, said their focus is to prepare students to become PGA members once they graduate. Their program is one of 18 in the country that have been endorsed by the PGA. NMSU was endorsed in 1987 and currently administers to about 100 students.
“Because it’s such a specialized program, we can’t get too big because then we lose that one-on-one work, but we need to stay big enough where we are relevant to the university and to the college,” Gavin said.
Josh Salmon, assistant director of the PGA management program, said the students play at all four of the courses in town and sometimes travel to El Paso, Albuquerque and other nearby courses as well, but Gavin said the NMSU course is used as their lab area.
Gavin said the program hosts about 50 tournaments a year for PGA students with 15 to 20 percent of them held at NMSU. He said the money collected from the tournaments is used as scholarships for PGA students.
Jason White, director of the NMSU Golf Course, said the course also provides jobs for about 20 students in each of their three departments. They hire students mainly from the PGA program, the Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management department and students studying turf grass in the college of agricultural, consumer and environmental sciences.
He said the golf course works to give back to students by offering them discounted fees for use of their facilities, activities like lessons and foot golf, a restaurant in their Club House where students can use Aggie Cash and many other amenities.
White said for a majority of the time the course has been open, it has made a profit. However, he said for a few recent years they have had a deficit due to spending on upkeep of the grounds, the opening of Red Hawk Golf Club and other factors.
“The last four, five years have been pretty tough for the golf course, White said. “We financed and put in an irrigation system that was about $1.5 million of debt that we had to take on. That also coincided with a declining student enrollment which reduced our student fees, monies that we got in, that we’re so appreciated of.”
White said the course broke even again during the 2017-2018 year. He said the winter was warm and the Sonoma Ranch Golf Course was not in the best condition, which brought in more business for the NMSU course. He said he is projecting a profit for the current academic year, but is looking at trends from past years as well as taking into account the unpredictable weather.
“I’m hopeful. We projected pretty flat,” White said. “I think if all things hold true, we’ll probably break even, maybe make a little bit of money.”
He said part of projecting “flat” was investing in their facilities and continuously improving the experience of their customers.