By Steve Ramirez
Reposted from the Las Cruces Sun-News
LAS CRUCES >> The Las Cruces Country Club has a new location and new life.
The country club finalized the purchase of Sonoma Ranch Golf Course, 1274 Golf Club Road, and now has ownership of the 160-acre property. The transaction was completed Friday. Robert Caldwell, president of the Las Cruces Country Club board of directors said the property was purchased for “just under $5 million.”
“We’re back,” Caldwell said. “Whatever you remember prior to 2011, when we closed the old country club, that’s what we’re going to be.”
The Las Cruces Country Club, a nonprofit 501 C-7 corporation, has acquired all assets of Sonoma Ranch Golf Course, including its water rights, its businesses — the Sunset Grill restaurant, the golf course’s clubhouse and outdoor pavilion — and its maintenance facilities.
“It’s exciting to know when projects of this size take place,” said Las Crucen Rick Stoes, in a post on the Sun-News Facebook page. “Good job LCCC.”
The old country club, a 110-acre property that included a golf course and pro shop, clubhouse, tennis courts and a swimming pool, at 2700 N. Main St., ceased operations in November 2011. Its golf-playing members have been at Sonoma Ranch Golf Course since then.
Efforts to find a new home for the country club have been pursued by a majority of its members since 2006. Then, members supported a proposed transaction to trade the former country club property to Las Cruces developer Philip Philippou, who had offered to build a new country club facility in a northeast Las Cruces subdivision.
However, the deal fell through, and the aging country club property slipped into disrepair. The old country club operated at its north Main Street location from 1928 until 2011.
Plenty of help
At slightly more than 110 acres, the former country club property has been the largest open space within the urban area of Las Cruces. Country club officials agreed to sell the property to Las Cruces developer Bob Pofahl, who has plans to build Park Ridge, an urban village, that will include a hospital and medical campus, townhouses, an area for commercial businesses, and parks and a trail system.
The former country club property was bought by Pofahl in late October for $7.1 million. Construction of the first phase of redevelopment of the property, a 30-acre medical campus, could begin early next year.
“A lot of thanks has to go to a lot of people who have helped us reach this point,” Caldwell said. “The former owners of Sonoma Ranch Golf Course, David Steinborn, George Rawson and Dale Schuler were very influential and supportive of the (country club’s) board of directors in getting this done.
“We also need to thank Bob and Karen Pofahl. They went over and above what any purchaser would have done. They were willing to stick by the sellers in trying to obtain the zone changes. They did all the hard work to get that done.”
Steinborn, Rawson and Shuler did not immediately return calls Monday seeking comment.
The new country club property could go through a name change sometime in the coming year, but for now it will be known as Sonoma Ranch Golf Course home of the Las Cruces Country Club.
“I hope they consider a re-branding effort,” said Las Crucen Leah Messina, in a post on the Sun-News Facebook page. “‘Sonoma Ranch Golf Course home of the Las Cruces Country Club’ is a mouthful, to say the least.”
Caldwell said various levels of country club membership are being sold, but the facility will remain open for public and private uses.
“We are not changing who and what we are,” Caldwell said. “We will be the same Las Cruces Country Club, a public and private golf course. …It’s important to emphasize that (Sonoma Ranch Golf Course) will still be there for public use. It’s not a private golf course or a private restaurant.”
Caldwell also emphasized the country club will continue its support of community events.
“Las Cruces Country Club is back,” he said. “Our plan is to do exactly what we were doing before. We want to be just as community oriented as we were before.”
Generations: The Las Cruces Country Club has been in the city since 1928. From its beginning until November 2011 it was at 2700 N. Main St. The former country club was on 110 acres, and included an 18 hole golf course and pro shop, a clubhouse for its members and guests, a small tennis court and a swimming pool
New beginnings: Friday, country club officials finalized the purchase of Sonoma Ranch Golf Course, 1274 Golf Club Road. The country club purchased all assets of Sonoma Ranch Golf Course for slightly less than $5 million. Sonoma Ranch Golf Course is now owned entirely by the Las Cruces Country Club
Now, and later: For now, the 160-acre facility will be called Sonoma Ranch Golf Course home of the Las Cruces Country Club. However, the facility could be renamed at a later date. No immediate changes in green fees or rental rates is anticipated, but a study will be conducted to determine the facility’s competitiveness with rates and fees charged by other nearby golf courses and country clubs
To join: The Las Cruces Country Club offers various levels of memberships, with monthly dues. The Las Cruces Country Club is a 501 C-7 nonprofit corporation, and none of its members benefit financially from operations of its facility
Information:Sonoma Ranch Golf Course Pro Shop, 575-521-1818, open daily from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.; Las Cruces Country Club business office, 575-526-9723, open from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 8 a.m. until noon on Friday.