If you're a central Texas golfer, you know about "Muny," otherwise known as Lions Municipal Golf Course, an historic course in Austin's old west side. It's one of the most popular courses in terms of rounds in the state, and some of Texas' most famous golfers in the last century -- from Ben Hogan to Harvey Penick to Ben Crenshaw -- have praised it.
Most golfers around here also know that it's days could very well be numbered if the University of Texas gets its way. The property is leased by the city of Austin from the University of Texas, and that lease is scheduled to run out in 2019. The course, at 6,000 yards on 141 acres, is small by modern standards but still holds its own thanks to doglegs and other subtle nuances that benefit those who have played the course many times.
But here's the trouble: it's a $20-30 round of golf surrounded by prime real estate, during boom years in central Texas. The total land value has been estimated to be around $200 million.
Save Muny group steps up
A local group, Save Muny, took a step towards saving the course, nominating it for placement on the National Register of Historic Places, the Austin American-Statesman reports. The group points to Muny's place in history as the first de-segregated golf course in the South.
The University, however, has its eyes on development dollars and does not support Lions' place as a historic property. From the Statesman article:
"The UT System does not support the listing of the entire golf course as a national historic district," said Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, a system spokeswoman. "However, we strongly believe in recognizing the historical significance of the desegregation of Lions Municipal Golf Course, and we are investigating the most appropriate way to do that in a manner consistent with the use of the Brackenridge tract for the benefit of the University of Texas. The lease with the city of Austin ends in 2019, and we are taking a long-term view in the planning for the property and for the commemoration and recognition of Lions Muny's desegregation as an important event in Austin's history."
Not only does Lions hold historical significance, it's a really, really popular golf course that is busy every day of the week, and few, if any Texas golf courses host more rounds. Lions -- which rates nearly 4 full stars on Golf Advisor with more than 100 reviews -- was also designed in part by A.W. Tillinghast, who is more well known for designing San Antonio municipal course, Brackenridge Park. Brackenridge Park did lose some of its original design to make room for a highway in 1968.
But Muny could be yet another historic golf course in Texas lost forever. In 2012, San Antonio's Pecan Valley Golf Club, host of the 1968 PGA Championship, closed for good. In 2014, Fort Worth lost Glen Garden, a childhood haunt of Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson.