ActivePaper Archive Golf at Taylor Ranch a plan for the future - Hobbs News Sun, 2013-07-28

Commentary

Golf at Taylor Ranch a plan for the future

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Levi Hill

When something gets a nickname like “The Rock,” it seems to me that changing that perception is going to be an uphill battle. When that “thing” is a golf course you have to wonder if it is worth the effort — or the money.

But that is exactly what Hobbs city officials seem intent on with a proposed $8 million remodel of the Ocotillo Park Golf Course. A remodel that will require hundreds of tons of dirt be hauled in to give the course enough topsoil to prevent duffers from banging their expensive Ping irons on rocks.

Seems silly when more than 215 acres of land with more adequate topsoil sits just a few miles southeast of “The Rock” on a little plot of land called Taylor Ranch that the city dropped big bucks on last year.

A plot of land that sits at a major gateway into the community from Texas (where coincidentally, the majority of our visitors come from, for everything from oilfield activity to casino attendees).

Currently, that land, and more to the north of it, looks like any other patch of New Mexico desert — dusty, mesquite-covered and undeveloped. Not a welcoming sight to those coming into Hobbs for business or pleasure.

A green golf course that spans the northern portions of Taylor Ranch would catch Hobbs visitors at three main avenues into Hobbs — Marland, Bender and the Navajo to Joe Harvey Boulevard thoroughfare.

I drive to Lovington fairly regularly and aside from the green trees, I can see very little of Ocotillo from the roadway. The Lovington Highway walking trail is impressive and visitors who hit the community from that direction invariably comment on it, not Ocotillo.

What do they comment on when coming from Texas on Highway 62/180? Often the dismal state of Marland’s frontage — empty and dilapidated buildings.

Would the price tag for a new course at Taylor Ranch be less than a remodel at Ocotillo? Hard to say. But it would likely be easier.

Instead, the plan seems to be to close Ocotillo for 14 months and rebuild it, forcing area golfers who aren’t members of the Hobbs Country Club, to use those facilities or not golf at all.

The city is working out an agreement with the country club for use of the course, but that will just mean more city money spent to cover wear and tear to country club facilities.

Building at Taylor Ranch would leave Ocotillo open. Sure, Ocotillo is an aged course with lots of problems, but after a new course is built it could be re-utilized or left as a free course where New Mexico Junior College students on the golf team could practice, and kids and weekend golfers could go when the Taylor Ranch course is being used for tournament play.

A golf course near Hobbs High School at Taylor Ranch could also benefit the state-winning Hobbs High golf team, by giving them easier access to practice facilities. NMJC kids have their own private putting green and driving range on campus.

A golf course at Taylor Ranch would connect it to the community much more than a hidden Ocotillo on the far northern edge of the community, and would work much like the health walk in giving visitors a pleasing sight when coming to town.

Let’s also not forget that economic growth will likely soon shift east along Joe Harvey and Navajo and the majority of homes in Hobbs’ future will likely come from Ranch View and the 100-home subdivision planned for 88-acres directly across from Taylor Ranch on Marland.

Fixing Ocotillo now is a fix for the present. Building a new golf course at Taylor Ranch looks more like planning for the future in my mind.

Levi Hill is managing editor of the News-Sun.