AUSTIN, Texas — For years now, we’ve heard the pleas, and the voices are getting louder. But so is the silence on the other end.
Save Muny. Preserve one of the oldest public golf courses in Texas, its staunch supporters say.
But this is about so much more than golf and keeping a venerable course built in 1924, the same year Royal-Memorial Stadium went up on the University of Texas campus. It’s about social history, about civil rights as the first desegregated public course in the South, about opportunities for young and old, about high school golfers and senior golfers, about teaching the game, about a university’s umbilical cord with a city that supports it, about urban green space, about doing the right thing.
And, yes, it’s about money. Alas, the rallying cry might be falling on deaf ears.
Lions Municipal Golf Course is every bit as much in danger today as when the city’s lease for the historic property on the north bank of Lady Bird Lake expired in May 2019. Ever since, under an agreement between landlord UT and the city of Austin, Muny has operated on a five-month rolling lease.
Basically a handshake agreement. And the more quiet the university gets, the more worried Muny friends get and the more at risk the future of the course becomes. The site is already listed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the 11 most endangered historic sites in America.
“The university has an opportunity to embrace this and understand what a great jewel it is and heal a part of the tortured past it has with the issue of race,” said Gary Bledsoe, the president of the Texas NAACP. “It’s a really big deal. This is an opportunity for the university not to continue its history of hostility toward African Americans. I don’t know if I’m disillusioned, but I have a great deal of concern and alarm.”
Looking for a cause? Follow the money
The problem is money, as it always is. Muny sits on the 345-acre Brackenridge tract, and the 141 acres for the golf course could command a price tag ‘in excess of $750 million,” one prominent local real estate developer told the American-Statesman last week.