Harlingen Launches $ 3.1 Million Golf Course Project; Executives choose architecture firm with “local flair”

by | Oct 16, 2021 | Golf Courses

October 16 – HARLINGEN – After about five years of planning, an architecture firm with “local flair” is preparing to launch a $ 3.1 million project aimed at luring players back to the Tony Butler Golf Course – and pull him out of the hole.

Earlier this week city commissioners selected Jeffrey D. Blume Golf Course Architects to renovate the Rio Grande Valley’s 92-year-old icon’s irrigation system while upgrading the greens to pump revenue into the 230-acre course that has been around for more than eight years.

Officials are now negotiating a contract with the Houston-based company, City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez said on Friday.

Commissioners selected the company after presentations from GolfScapes Inc. of Arlington and Ross Golf Design of Austin.

“If you look at the amount of work that has been done – Texas A&M and the list of projects they have done – that’s a lot of projects,” Commissioner Richard Uribe told commissioners, referring to Blume’s company during the meeting on Monday. “I liked the fact that they showed before and after pictures, real work – this is how it used to be, this is what it looks like now. They are very detailed. “


During his presentation, Blume told commissioners that his 32 years experience in golf course architecture includes designing and renovating award-winning golf courses in the US, Mexico, Japan and China.

“I myself have probably done more community work in Texas than any other architect,” he said.

The company’s experience includes designing golf courses for Grand Pines Golf Club in Bentwater, Montgomery, Golfcrest Country Club in Pearland, Boiling Springs Golf Club in Woodward, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M University Golf Club.

“Local flair”

Rene Rangel, chief executive officer of Sterling Golf Management in Houston, from Harlingen, and his nephew Roman Robledo learned how to play golf on the course, while Bennett Campbell, an irrigation planner from Laguna Vista, was 40 on the course. has played long years.

The story goes on

“We think we’re bringing a very local flair to our team,” he said. “Our team knows Tony Butler better than anyone you consider. They are all from Harlingen and South Texas and regularly play the golf course.”

As part of the project to overhaul the golf course’s old irrigation system, Campbell plans to narrow the gaps between the sprinkler heads while installing HDEP pipes that will not “leak”.

“I know the course – I’ve played it for 40 years,” Campbell, a certified golf irrigation planner, told commissioners. “I want golf to be successful in the city of Harlingen. I think you have a beautiful golf course. I’ve always liked it and I want to do everything I can to make sure it stays green and stays constant.” Green.”

Nine-hole short course

During the presentation, Blume told commissioners he was planning to upgrade the golf course’s Executive Nine, the nine-hole short course popular with winter Texans and young players.

Last year, the previous commission closed holes 19-27 to reduce maintenance costs while considering the sale of a 30-acre lot spanning holes 19-23, prime land along the front road of Interstate 69 with a estimated value of about $ 5 million.

Meanwhile, holes 24 to 27 remained open for play.

At the time the past commission voted to close the short course, officials expected the money to be used to fund upgrades to the golf course as part of their plan to withdraw golfers.

But they have tabled a decade-old city resolution restricting the use of the land to parks and recreation, Commissioner Frank Puente said, adding that voters must decide whether the city can sell the land.

In July, the new majority of the commission voted to reopen the short course and expected to attract winter Texans back to the golf course.

“Although the project is only listed as 18 holes, we will be looking at the entire property. We know there were nine more holes – and what the best use of this property could be, ”Blume told commissioners. “It could be the third nine. Maybe we can do something with it that can make the facility’s revenue a little better.”

In San Antonio, the company designed a lighted nine-hole par-3 course that is the second largest money maker out of eight properties owned by the city’s municipal golf association, Blume said.

“So we should go see something like this,” he said. “Tony Butler has some good (topography) to work with, so it’s an exciting range.”

The project

As part of the $ 3.1 million project, city officials plan to overhaul the golf course’s old irrigation system for $ 1.9 million, upgrade the greens for $ 575,575, and develop a drainage system for the golf course $ 264,000 along low-lying areas.

Officials are counting on the upgrades to generate more revenue so the golf course pays for itself.

In July, a financial report showed the golf course generated $ 666,986 while taking in $ 983,470 in expenses, leaving a shortfall of $ 316,484 last year.

According to the report, the golf course recorded annual deficits between $ 419,713 in fiscal 2015-2016 and $ 223,731 in 2018-2019.

Now the golf course’s total deficit is $ 846,548, a report showed.

Consultant’s report

In 2019, officials paid $ 22,000 to hire the National Golf Foundation, a national golf consultancy, to recommend upgrades to increase revenue so that the course pays off.

In a 97-page report, the consultants recommended improvements valued at $ 3.7 million to $ 7 million aimed at overhauling much of the golf course.

Recommendations included rebuilding or replacing “key infrastructure components of the 18-hole course – greens, irrigation system, bunkers, drainage” at a cost of $ 3.75 million, the report said.

“We recommend replacing and / or upgrading at least all major infrastructure components, including greens, irrigation systems, bunkers, drainage and tees.”


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