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Renovated country club, golf course offers range of benefits

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Now that the dust has settled, and Rio Rancho’s only golf course and country club once again has a future, it seemed like a good idea to check out the new Club Rio Rancho.

The country club and golf course have been in Rio Rancho longer than most people have lived here. AMREP built it in the 1960s to encourage people to move to Rio Rancho, and it did its job.

Many folks liked the idea that swimming, golf and fine dining were available in this burgeoning community in the middle of the desert.

Now, nearly 50 years later, and after a few years of neglect and financial struggles, the country club looks like a winner again. The plans, the renovations and the future for the club look great. We predict this recent rebirth will be a success.

When Jhett Browne announced he wished to be the primary investor in the soon-to-be named Club Rio Rancho, many people were cautiously excited. Members desperately wanted the golf courses renewed, neighbors were worried about land values and many in the community felt the club was a great asset for the city.

They wanted it to remain a part of Rio Rancho. It took months of negotiating with the city, but the deal was finalized May 1. And Browne began showing the people that his promises were soon to become reality.

Improvements have already been made and more are coming. Browne, along with minority investor Bob Gallagher, have a vision that will benefit the club, its members and the community. Membership is already increasing. “Cautiously excited” should definitely be changed to “excited.”

One intriguing aspect of Club Rio Rancho is that the facilities and activities will be available for both members and nonmembers once completed, although members will obviously have advantages not offered to nonmembers.

One of the restaurants, and one bar and grill will be open to the public. Anyone can sign up for golf lessons. Nonmembers can play on the course, although members get to reserve tee times earlier than nonmembers. Nonmembers can rent the swimming pool area for special events.

Few private clubs offer these opportunities to nonmembers. We predict residents will enjoy the new atmosphere that is being created. Remodeling and renovations are continuing, and everyone we have talked to is excited about what’s happening at Club Rio Rancho.

Browne and Gallagher are enjoying bringing the changes to the club and to Rio Rancho. Their optimism is contagious, and it looks like their vision and investment will become a dream-come-true for Rio Rancho.

A grand opening is planned for the end of August, at which point most of the renovations should be complete. The new club will bring excitement to the members and to the community as a whole. The people of Rio Rancho, with the revitalization of the club’s golf course, will once again have some green areas and more activities will be available for all of us, both young people and adults.

Once again, the club at the north end of Golf Course Road will be a place to gather, a place to eat, a place for fun – and a place to make memories.

Thank you, Jhett Browne and Bob Gallagher. The people of Rio Rancho look forward to enjoying the benefits your club provides.

Contact the Ryans at ryan@abqjournal.com.

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