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AZTEC — About 10 months after the city of Aztec took over managing the Hidden Valley Golf Course, city officials remain optimistic about the venture.

“Overall, I feel confident that this is a strong venture for the city of Aztec,” City Manager Joshua Ray said during an interview Tuesday afternoon.

In January, the 18-hole golf course was closed until the commission approved a lease.

In late February, the course opened with the city managing it under a two-year lease. Commissioner Katee McClure had initially expressed concerns about the golf course, however, now she describes herself as “cautiously optimistic.”

Since the city signed the lease, the course has averaged 27 rounds of golf each day, Ray said.

The city is currently looking at about $15,000 negative balance for the 10 months it has been open, Ray said.

That relatively small loss is one of the factors leading McClure to reevaluate her initial hesitancy. She says she is optimistic about the side ventures such as a new restaurant, Ruby in the Valley, now open at the course and the liquor license obtained two months ago.

“I think we can build on it rather than staying stagnant,” McClure said.

She said marketing will be crucial to making the golf course a success.

Ray echoed the need for marketing and said he hopes to work with other local golf courses — in particular, those run by government entities — to increase the Aztec course's visibility.

A majority of the golf courses in the area are run by municipalities. The City of Farmington operates both Piñon Hills Golf Course and Civitan Golf Course, and San Juan County manages Riverview Golf Course in Kirtland.

Ray said Hidden Valley also has an advantage because it is open year round, while in Colorado, La Plata County golf courses close during the winter.

Future goals for the course include increasing the number of rounds played each day to an average of 40 or more and hosting two tournaments a month in 2016, Ray said.

He said the rates to play at Hidden Valley Golf Course are very competitive. A $25 fee covers an 18-hole game of golf and the cart rental, providing golfers “four hours of exercise and frustrating fun,” Ray said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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