White Sands Missile Range Golf Course Superintended Bill Ticho starts his work day looking out into the Organ Mountains from the 70-acre golf course every morning, where he works maintaining the acres of land, keeping the greens leveled and removing the occasional rattlesnake from the course.
He has done this for 24 years, before that he was stationed as an enlisted Soldier here at WSMR starting in 1984. Ticho retired from the Army and decided to stay at WSMR to raise a family.
“Every day you look at the mountains and you see something different,” he said. “The sunsets, the sunrises, sometimes you can even see the moon where the mountains break.”
Ticho can name every type of grass that is located on the course. The greens are made up of bentgrass, penncross and fairway grasses, the seven boxes are made up of teff, tifway 419 bermuda grasses and are over-seeded with perennial. The course is also home to over 90 different species of birds and is known as the best place within three states to see birds.
The 70 acres are not maintained by Ticho alone, he has the help of his two employees, Paul Self and Charles Tidwell. Self has been an employee for the past 25 years and Tidwell has worked at the golf course for 13 years. The grass must be cut every day, seven days a week.
“They’re the best,” Ticho said. “No other place would take care of 70 acres with just two people.”
Tidwell, who started in 2003, said he likes working at the golf course because of the people he works with.
“Everybody just pitches in and does every type of job at different times,” he said.
Self said he enjoys the job he has been doing for over two decades. His favorite part about the job is being outside.
“I’m looking forward to retirement but I enjoy the team I work with now,” he said.
The course is noted for having one of the best greens within the local area. Ticho said he is constantly approached by golfers who congratulate him for having the best greens they’ve ever golfed on within the El Paso, Las Cruces and Alamogordo region. Some of the benefits the golfers who come to WSMR experience is a serene atmosphere with a picturesque background and the area’s natural wildlife. Ticho said some years ago the area was populated by a vast amount of deer, though the numbers have since dwindled, he said he’s seen them slowly returning to the area. Aside from the scenery, Ticho said the course doesn’t see much foot traffic and therefore lends itself to a country club feel.
“In every hole, except the first, your scenery is the mountains,” Ticho said. “It’s quiet and secluded, you don’t have traffic noise or vehicles rolling around.”
Ticho said what he enjoys most about the job is running into people he thought he would never see again, due to retirement.
“I’ve run into people who come back after 40 years or so of retirement,” he said.
Since Ticho has been here he said they have taken out about 100 trees due to winter freezing or roots coming into the golf courses. However, there are still 460 large trees to enjoy. He boasts that the Sonoma and Red Hawk golf course don’t have any trees, making WSMR the coolest place to golf, in more ways than one.
The golf course is located on the western edge of the main post, closest to the Organ Mountains. The course is connected to the Frontier Club because Ticho said at one point a general decided it would increase foot traffic. Golfers can choose to play 11 holes or 18 holes. Military and Family members can play at a highly reduced rate. Guests can also enjoy refreshments, including beer, and light snacks at the course’s pro shop.
Golfers who wish to visit the WSMR course can reduce their time at the front gate by calling the golf course before their visit and providing them with information that is normally provided at the front gate in order to conduct a background check. If a guest passes a background check, they can receive a pass that is good for a year which can be picked up at the Visitor Center, located at the Las Cruces gate, during normal duty hours.
For more information on the golf course call (575) 678-5310.