The prospective owner of Chamisa Hills Country Club says community involvement is important to make the business successful, and the city councilor representing that district is asking residents to pledge to join the club.
City Councilor Mark Scott wants Rio Ranchoans to join him as a new or continuing member and email their membership pledge, name, address and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The new owner has stated that he intends to bring the country club back up to a facility that all of Rio Rancho can be proud of,” Scott wrote in a mass email Monday. “It will take him millions of dollars to do so, and I believe we should all stand behind him to ensure success.”
Prospective owner Michael Schumacher said the country club would need increased participation to make it economically viable. The current level of 200 memberships isn’t viable, but the long-past level of 1,000 memberships is, he said.
“Somewhere in the middle there is probably the right answer,” Schumacher said.
He said the course could handle 500 members, plus public access.
Schumacher said the number of membership pledges would absolutely affect whether he closed on the deal.
“The more committed the community is to support this endeavor, the more likely it is to close,” he said.
Schumacher said his membership costs would be competitive with other golf courses in the area, but declined to name a specific number.
The Chamisa Hills website, under current ownership, has a 2013 fee scheduled with a variety of packages ranging from a full golf family membership for a $995 initiation fee and dues of $298 a month to a social membership with a $195 initiation fee and dues of $57 a month.
Schumacher anticipates continuing to offer various levels of membership.
Scott’s encouraging not just the owners of the 1,100 homes along the golf course but also the whole community to support the club.
“This is a community issue,” he said in a interview.
Large companies want to see a golf course when they’re considering moving to a city, he said. Many people have celebrated milestones at Chamisa Hills, he continued, and the golf course is the city’s largest tract of open space, housing wildlife such as hawks, raccoons, coyotes and migratory birds.
“It’s not just a golf course,” Scott said. “… We don’t want it to go away or become a tumbleweed field. That’s my worst fear.”
Scott said he would print out the membership pledges and give them to Schumacher before closing
“It’s part of his due-diligence package, and it’s time the community steps up,” he said.
Scott said he’d had overwhelming comments from community leaders and constituents about the importance of the golf course.
“So I’m very hopeful people will step up to the plate and support the new owner,” he said. “We need to work together.”
David Sanchez, who lives on the north course, said he was upset with the deteriorating condition of the course, and he hoped the city would work with Schumacher.
“Golf has been my passion most of my life,” Sanchez wrote in an email. “We had to pay extra from the builder to be on the golf course. We fully expected to enjoy the golf course for many years.”
He enjoyed watching the golfers, seeing birds and hearing frogs drawn to the course.
“I think that many people think that the golf course is just for golfers,” Sanchez continued. “Not so. Nature lovers would enjoy the area, too!
“Rio Rancho offers many amenities to its residents, i.e. soccer fields, baseball fields, pool, library, etc. I think the golf course is just one of them. Being the third-largest city in New Mexico it would be a shame not to offer a golf course, too.”
Schumacher said increasing revenue through more participation at Chamisa Hills is one of three parts of making the venture successful.
Providing the best-possible experience at the club and addressing water rates are the other two.
“The proposed upgrades by Mr. Schumacher to Chamisa Hills Golf and Country Club mean much more than just increased property values,” Tom Ruhl, a neighbor of the course, wrote in an email.
School children doing science projects around the ponds and high school students playing the course show everyone needs the “green zone in the desert,” he wrote.