Road Hole Shorts

Golf Design, golf, golf, GOLF

The Women’s Open was an event to remember

By Mary Armstrong/For the Sun-News
Posted: 07/14/2011 09:50:47 PM MDT

This past weekend, I was fortunate to travel to Colorado Springs and see the Women’s Open in person.

USGA and other friends made it all possible and I want to thank them. Unfortunately, I was too late to get media credentials, which would have been even more fun.

If you’ve never been to The Broadmoor, I want you to know that in my opinion it ranks second to none for beauty, historical suave and demanding golf. It also has darn impressive lightning, thunder and horizontal rain. We did get wet, but it was worth it.

If you’ve never treated yourself to a professional golfing event before, it’s much different from watching it on TV. Personally, I prefer the “sit and wait” approach over the “pick a group and follow them” mode. I like to go out and see the course first. Along the way, I’ll make mental notes about what looks like a good place to “plant” myself. We spent the day walking on Saturday before we were drenched and nearly subject to shock therapy as we waited in line for our bus to the parking lot during the quite dependable afternoon thundershowers.

On Sunday we watched the 12th hole, a 200-yard par 3 that drops about 40 feet to the green. The USGA had set up some stands behind the green and it was very easy to see the golf ball off the club and often for the full flight as Cheyenne Mountain provided a perfect background. The difficulty that the players had reading the greens became very apparent to us. Every player that attempted a putt from the left side of the hole overestimated the break to the back of the green and missed right – most also went far past the hole – so judging speed was an issue as well.

I’ll always remember the chimes from the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun. The Shrine sits high up on Cheyenne Mountain overlooking Broadmoor and the City of Colorado Springs. The Shrine’s Westminster Chimes ring on the quarter hour and music is played periodically as well – I believe every two hours. I understand the 80-foot tall building is incredible as it was constructed from a single 6,000-pound boulder. We never got a chance to visit the Shrine, but I’ll never forget player after player continuing undeterred by those chimes as they unexpectedly rang.

Golf Tourism in New Mexico – not with this Governor

While attending a Rio Grande Golf Course Superintendents meeting in Santa Fe this week, I learned that in March the governor pocket-vetoed a bill introduced by Carlsbad Republican Senator Vernon D. Asbill that would have promoted golf tourism in New Mexico.

Economic studies by respected professionals have pegged golf’s contribution to the New Mexican economy at between $500 million and $1 billion dollars annually. The hospitality industry is perhaps the biggest beneficiary, but the demographic of a golf tourist correlates to someone that will buy art, local crafts, and other goods that tourists typically desire.

The golf business already contributes well to our economy, but Arizona’s golf tourism market is significantly larger (estimated at over 3.5 billion). New Mexico’s superior weather and friendly, small-town atmosphere means the golf-tourism bone is dangling right in front of us. The bill would have devoted ten dollars for license plate fabrications and administration. The remaining $25 would go to the New Mexico Department of Tourism, earmarked for golf tourism promotion. The state was guaranteed by the New Mexico Golf Alliance that it would not lose money on the first run of the plates.

There are over 40 different specialty plates available to New Mexicans. Most plates are targeted to public servants – military, firefighters, police and emergency medical technicians – but a number are for special interests, such as organizations and causes. How much do you suppose Wildlife Artwork, Boy Scouts Centennial, and Amateur Radio Operators contribute to the State’s economy?

Perhaps the governor misunderstood the intention of the bill. This is one license plate that would result in far more traction into the golf tourism business than the earmarked $25 per license plate would provide. When seen by out-of-staters, the distinctive “Golf New Mexico” emblem and slogan would become an icon for New Mexico’s terrific golfing weather and outstanding golfing venues.

The golf industry in New Mexico has made a concerted effort to promote golf tourism. A few years ago, the New Mexico Golf Tourism Alliance was formed. A matching grant from the New Mexico Tourism Department helped them make strides in attracting golf tourists, but $40,000 doesn’t go far when it comes to national marketing. However, they did make progress and I believed proved that a good marketing program can have results.

There’s no doubt the golf course owners (a number of which are municipalities) in New Mexico would benefit from a strong golf tourism marketing program, but our hospitality industry would gain as much or more. Perhaps I don’t understand New Mexico politics, but a bill that would cost the State nothing or nearly nothing and have the potential to bring more tourists here would seem to be a no brainer.

A golf architect in New Hampshire for over 20 years, Armstrong brought her craft to Las Cruces in January 2010. She is the founder of Armstrong Golf Architects, which provides planning, designing, permitting and construction monitoring services for golf course projects. You can comment on her writing and view past articles at her blog: https://roadholeshorts17.wordpress.com/.

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