Guy Wimberly, a founding father of the Sun Country PGA Section, was nicknamed “Mr. New Mexico Golf,” and the endearment fit. For nearly 50 years, Wimberly was an inspirational PGA Professional who grew the game in his adopted state.
Wimberly, a 2011 inductee into the PGA of America Hall of Fame, died May 1, at age 81, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he attended the University of New Mexico and turned professional in 1964. He was elected to PGA Membership in 1971, and went on to help found the Sun Country PGA Section in 1974. From there, Wimberly became a catalyst for programs that elevated PGA Professionals throughout the “Land of Enchantment.”
Perhaps Wimberly’s most prized accomplishment was delivering the PGA Professional Golf Management program to New Mexico State University in 1987. The third school to offer the curriculum in the country, Wimberly was joined by his older brother, Herb, now a PGA Life Member, in the initiative.
“Guy was the key individual who got New Mexico State University’s program running,” said PGA Professional Pat Gavin, 27-year director of the NMSU program. “It owes everything to Guy and Herb. Guy was a great mentor not only to me, but to everybody.”
In 1969, joined by PGA Professional Bob Meiering, Wimberly took over Arroyo del Oso Golf Course in Albuquerque and turned it into a popular municipal golf destination, earning recognition from Golf Digest as one of the “Top 50 Municipal Facilities to Play.”
In 1974, that facility became the basis of New Mexico Golf Ltd., a multi-million dollar entity that grew from one to four public facilities employing more than 100, including a dozen PGA Professionals and assistant professionals. Under his direction, Arroyo del Oso’s 27-hole facility serviced more than 140,000 annual rounds.
Among the leaders in advancing golf tourism in New Mexico, Wimberly also guided the formation of the Sun Country Amateur Golf Association and the Junior PGA Tour within the state. Wimberly was co-recipient with Meiering of the 1979 PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Public Facilities; and in 1988 earned the Horton Smith Award for contributions to PGA education.
Wimberly served from 1982-85 as District 12 director on the PGA Board of Directors; and from 1980-82 as president of the Sun Country PGA Section. He was the 2001 Sun Country PGA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. “Guy nominated me in 1997 for the Section board,” said Gavin, who continues to serve the Section. “He was always there for me.”
Wimberly spent his final 15 years in Elephant Butte, New Mexico, where he served from 2006-08 as PGA Director of Golf at Sierra del Rio Golf Club.
"The PGA of America is saddened by the passing of Guy Wimberly, 'Mr. New Mexico Golf,' one of our Association's legends,” said PGA President Suzy Whaley. “Guy's leadership in the Sun Country PGA Section galvanized golf tourism, advanced competitive opportunities for juniors and was a driving force for aspiring PGA Professionals. We mourn his passing and will keep his wife, Alice, and sons Guy Jr. and Brian, in our thoughts and prayers."