ActivePaper Archive Golf deal on rocks for now - Hobbs News Sun, 2013-10-13

Golf deal on rocks for now

• Lack of ruling from IRS puts HCC, Ocotillo pact on hold

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Carts wait for golfers Saturday at Ocotillo Park Golf Course in Hobbs. The course will host a Farewell Tournament today before closing down for an extensive renovation.

Today is the last day of paid golfing at Ocotillo Park Golf Course for the next year, but Hobbsans no longer have another in-town option to get their links fix.

The federal shutdown has hit home. A contract between the City of Hobbs and the Hobbs Country Club to allow Hobbs golfers who are not members of HCC to play at the club for the same price as they would at Ocotillo has died.

Hobbs Mayor and HCC board member Sam Cobb said the contract fell through because the club could not get a ruling from the IRS due to the federal shutdown.

“If we breach our nonprofit IRS status, then we have to pay corporate taxes and the club struggles to make money,” Cobb said. “The dues are not subject to gross receipt taxes because it is a private club, but they would become taxable if we lost our non-profit status.”

The issue is one the club has known about since the contract discussions began, but has been unable to get a reply from the IRS and now with the shutdown, simply cannot get any information.

The issue is the club cannot make more than a fixed amount of money from outside sources in order to retain its nonprofit status. The contract with the City of Hobbs for use of the course would have put the club over that fixed amount.

The contract called for three $200,000 payments to the club to offset lower green fees and for increased maintenance costs. A round of golf at Ocotillo, with cart, costs $27, but a round at the club for non-club members is closer to $45.

However, non-club members are not guaranteed a spot on the course as club members are given first pick on tee times.

“We are going to try and work out a solution so there is an interim plan and a long-term plan,” Cobb said.

Hobbs City Manager J.J. Murphy said the long-term future is unclear, but for the moment the city is going to continue to allow play at Ocotillo after the closure.

“When we close the course for paid play on Sunday, I am going to, at least until end of the month, allow free play,” he said.

Golfers will have to walk and there will be no club house or golf carts available. The course will also be cut to nine holes for the next month while workers begin killing and moving grass for the reorganization of the course.

Today the course is open only for a tournament and spots in the tournament are full.

Murphy said the city will continue to seek a solution to give Hobbs golfers a place to play during Ocotillo’s closure.

While it may be a problem for some golfers, others were more non-chalant about the affair.

“You can’t blame the country club because that’s their course,” said Robert Quesada as he played Ocotillo Saturday. “Hopefully, they’ll work something out. It’s not a done deal as far as I know. I’d like to play at the country club. If not, I’ll head over to Lovington, Eunice, Seminole or even Andrews.”

Still having a course close at hand is nice.

“It’s going to be a tough year without the golf course,” Quesada added.