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Golf course rededicated

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By Don Pace

Highlands University’s Gene Torres Golf Course is now open to the public after a ribbon-cutting ceremony that rededicated the refurbished links on the northeast side of town.

Whether you play golf or not, the golf course is a little oasis that is just another asset that makes Las Vegas a unique little city tucked away in the Sangre de Cristos, officials said.

President Jim Fries told a large crowd at the ribbon-cutting that the renovation cost around $3 million.

“It’s a significant project, a major investment in the recreational opportunities of this community. We’re very proud of what has been achieved here, and if you have a chance to get on the greens, I think you’ll see it really is a wonderful and challenging course that is going to take some real skill to master,” Fries said.

Fries quipped that work on the course was not totally done, “but we thought we’ve delayed this just as long as we possibly could without being lynched.”

“So even though there are a few more details to be completed, we wanted to get this under way and open it. We do intend to plan, design and build a path for walking and jogging through the property that I think will be very popular and an important addition to the community.”

Fries said there remains more landscaping and lighting to be done.

Fries said the university has been working with three golf pros during the last several months to get their advice in terms of projecting what the operating expenses and type of fee structure that would be needed to ensure that the golf course is self-supporting. He said Highlands is a state-supported institution, but the funding formula doesn’t pay for the golf course.

“So it really is going to be important that the fee structure is able to support the operating expenses and this be a stand-alone operation. We just don’t have any other source of operating revenues,” Fries said.

The president said the university has looked at all the courses and the fees within a 200-mile radius, “and we are hoping that you think the fees are reasonable and also factor in all the gas that you’re going to save by being able to golf right here in lovely Las Vegas.”

He said if the university finds that the course is able to support itself over time with lower fees, an adjustment would be made.

The Gene Torres Golf Course was a pet project for former Regent Walter Adams, who chaired the building and grounds committee during his tenure. He asked repeatedly about the progress of the work being done.

“We want to make sure that the community is included and give them some other recreational options and have a great time,” Adams said.

Student body president Nichole Parra-Perez said students have been waiting a long time for the golf course to open and now that it is, students will have yet another place to relax and hang out.

Gene Torres began work as the golf course manager in March 1962; he became the course superintendent in 1966 and became the golf pro in 1970.

Torres, who had the nickname “The Rock,” was remembered as a phenomenal golf pro. His family said he had big dreams for the course, which is named after him, and would be proud of the new layout of the course.