BOOZE-FUSION: State gives golf courses the OK to sell alcohol — then doesn’t

By Mark Smith

Enchantment Sports

Editor in Chief

What looked like some bubbly good news for golfers who like suds with their swings quickly went as flat as a day-old draft beer.

On Friday afternoon, New Mexico golf courses were finally allowed to sell alcohol once again.

Sales have not been permitted since Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham reopened the courses on May 1, after being shutdown due to COVID-19.

But less than an hour after receiving the go-ahead from the state’s Alcohol and Beverages Control Department, a second email told N.M. courses stick the cork back in the bottle.

“This is a total s–t show,” one Northern New Mexico PGA pro told Enchantment Sports. “What sense does this make?”

A reasonable question, indeed.

Non-alcoholic beverages can be sold on the course and in the snack bars.

But not alcoholic.

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“Absolutely ridiculous,” a Southern New Mexico pro said. “Look, we’re glad (Lujan Grisham) let us open. But seriously, there is no rhyme or reason to not permitting alcohol sales.”

Countless golfers and pros have contacted Enchantment Sports since the reopening, expressing their displeasure with Lujan Grishman’s policy prohibiting alcohol sales.

Friday’s fiasco isn’t going to help.

And might create even more confusion for those who only knew about the first email sent out Friday to give the go-ahead to sell, but hadn’t heard about the follow up.

“I didn’t know they rescinded it until you just told me,” Arroyo del Oso head pro Casey Coontz said late Friday night when contacted by Enchantment Sports. “We were planning on selling (Saturday).

“I was so busy (Friday) that I only saw the original email, and was scrambling to get everything ready to sell (Saturday) while doing everything else we are trying to do right now. Obviously, I would have seen the second email when I went in at 8 a.m., Saturday, and we wouldn’t be able to sell. But it’s disappointing.”

At 3:43 p.m. on Friday, Sun Country Golf House executive director Dana Lehner sent the following email to courses around the state, after getting word from Andrew Vallejos, the state’s  director of ABC, that it would be OK to immediately start selling alcohol.El Pintojpg


“Sun Country Golf members, professionals, partners, etc.,

Please be advised that we have been notified by Alcohol Beverage Control of New Mexico that Alcohol sales are now PERMITTED going forward at golf courses.
This applies to both takeout service and beverage carts.
Please be sure to abide by all ABC and State requirements and regulations surrounding alcohol sales in addition to Covid Safe Practices including asking servers to have on masks, social distancing while serving, etc.,
Please have a good and safe weekend.  All the best.  DL”

A separate email from Albuquerque Parks and Recreation to the courses confirmed the go-ahead.

Less than an hour later, the courses were informed the decision had been reversed.

A latter email from Lehner read:

“We have received notice from Andrew Vallejos of NM Alcohol Beverage Control that the Governor’s office has reversed their decision this evening.  Alcohol is not allowed to be sold at golf courses in New Mexico.
Please see Andrew’s email here:
ABC email about golf liquor sales
In my discussion with Andrew this evening, the Governor’s office, after speaking with other parts of the administration, decided to reverse their earlier decision from this afternoon and not allow the sale of alcohol.  
Many of you have asked about “written official notice” from the State Government of alcohol being able to be sold or not being able to be sold following earlier emails.  Be advised, they are not willing to make that available at this time.  This is why I have pasted the email from Andrew Vallejos into this email, so you can see it.  It sounds like Andrew was not supposed to do this, but understood the desire for you to be able to see something.   So he provided an email that I could include to show you that this is coming directly from ABC via the Governor’s office.  I’m not sure why they will not provide official written notice.
I know many of you were excited about the news earlier today.  I’m sorry that I’m returning with bad news this evening.  I will continue to work with our leadership to try and get them to allow alcohol sales and other items we’d like to see relaxed.
Lehner didn’t return a call from Enchantment Sports late on Friday night asking about the confusion.
We will keep our readers updated when we find out more.

If you have information, questions or tidbits about New Mexico golf, feel free to contact us at

Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for more than four Mark Smith mugdecades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in state history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio and has been honored nationally for investigative reporting. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at

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