BY DAN VUKELICH Who exactly will run the city’s Ladera Golf Course after April 1 is up in the air. What’s certain is that Sam Zimmerly, who has been the concessionaire for 21 years, is out. Also gone will be all his pro shop merchandise and his fleet of new Yamaha golf carts. The snack bar will have no food, beer or snacks. Instead it will likely have a cash register manned by a city employee who will collect greens fees. The void is caused by the city’s termination of its contract with Zimmerly’s Westside Golf Co. and the city’s failure to negotiate a deal with Espinoza PE & Golf, the company that won the right to run Ladera, but which has yet to sign a contract. “We have plans in place and we’re in negotiations with the new operator,” said Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department spokesperson Jen Samp. “But golfers can expect uninterrupted service.” Although many, if not most golfers rent golf carts for an 18-hole round, it is unlikely carts will be available at Ladera until some time in April. The City Council must approve the Espinoza contract once it’s signed. The council doesn’t meet until April 4. Zimmerly’s departure and the new concessionaire’s contract issues are the latest woe to befall Ladera, which has suffered years of poor maintenance by city maintenance crews, even after $2 million was invested in the course to improve turf conditions and install a new irrigation system. Many of the improvements may be for naught. In the last year, the number of gopher tunnels and holes – including holes on the practice green – has exploded, making walking in some areas of the golf course treacherous. It is likely Zimmerly will sue the city over the handling of the bidding process. Espinzoa PE & Golf is owned by Arroyo del Oso PGA professionals Bill Harvey and Gerome Espinoza. Asked how close the company is to signing a contract, Harvey said, “Right now, not real close.” Under the city’s existing agreements with its other three golf properties, the city keeps all greens fees and a portion of sales of food, equipment and cart rentals. Dan Vukelich is editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at email@example.com.
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