Work on major improvements begins soon for the University of New Mexico’s North Golf Course, now part of Bernalillo County’s Open Space Program.

The golf course will close on Monday, Feb. 10 while contractors overhaul the irrigation system, improve landscaping and transform the popular walking and running trail around the course’s two-mile perimeter.

The walking trail will remain open during the two months of construction, except for partial closures in segments. Signs along Stanford Drive will advise runners and walkers of alternate routes.

“Bernalillo County is proud to sponsor major improvements to the University of New Mexico’s North Golf Course, the newest Open Space in our program,” Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins says. “This is the last best green space in the heart of New Mexico’s largest city, and these improvements are long overdue. I want to thank my University of New Mexico colleagues for their collaboration on this important project.”

Planners estimate the irrigation project overhaul could save about 20 to 25 million gallons annually. The current watering system, constructed in the 1940s, is estimated to be only about 20 to 30 percent efficient today.

Crews will work to maintain the aesthetic appeal and design of the original course, and to reclaim some areas that have deteriorated due to insufficient irrigation.

“This golf course and the trail around it are an integral piece of our city’s history that has long been embraced by the community and the university,” says UNM President Robert G. Frank. “These improvements allow us to bring together the best of old and new.”

Trails will see safety, aesthetic and accessibility upgrades to provide a safer and more effective path around the golf course. Workers will add some trees and maintain current ones, allowing sunlight to better support the turf growth.

Duininck, Inc. is the contractor for the golf course irrigation work, and Heads Up Landscape Contractors, Inc. will renovate the public trail and provide the landscaping around it. Duininck is scheduled to complete its work on April 15, and Heads Up is set to finish in early May. The project was designed by the local landscape architecture firm Sites Southwest, with Staples Golf, Inc. as a consultant on the golf course work.

The golf course will open as soon as the irrigation work is completed, scheduled for mid-April.

The project is made possible by a 2012 agreement, approved by the Bernalillo County Commission with UNM to protect the North Golf Course as Open Space for 15 years. UNM maintained ownership of the property, and the county contributed $1.5 million toward the rehabilitation project.

For more information and project updates, please contact Karen Wentworth of UNM at 505.277.5627 or John Barney of Bernalillo County at 505.314.0404