Say it ain't so: Historic Pecan Valley Golf Club in San Antonio on death watch
There are reports that Pecan Valley Golf Club, the Press Maxwell design that hosted the 1968 PGA Championship won by Julius Boros, may close as early as Sunday. It’s the same course that was also the site of the 2001 U.S. Pub Links and received a $5.5 million restoration just 14 years ago.
According to the San Antonio Express News, one of the Alamo City’s favorite layouts is in grave danger, and why that’s happening isn’t exactly clear. Supposedly, Foresight Golf, which operates Pecan Valley, proposed a plan to develop the property, saving nine holes for play. I can’t imagine that was well received.
For golfers, either local or those visiting the Alamo City, closing Pecan Valley is just short of a tragedy. In fact, I just wrote a piece for GolfTexas.com, naming Pecan Valley among San Antonio’s best courses for architect junkies.
This is a classic 7,000-yard par-71 parkland layout with mature pecan and oak trees, creeks and classic doglegs. It has played host to a number of great state events in additional to national championships. Better than that, though, it had a loyal following. I know for years, whenever I went to San Antonio, I’d try to make the trip over to the southeast side to play it, even when it wasn’t in great shape.
This isn’t the only report of older courses finding the endangered list. Just up the road, as my colleague Brandon Tucker reports on GolfChannel.com, three Austin mainstays are in trouble. And efforts have been well under way in the San Francisco area to save municipal Sharp Park G.C., which was designed by none other than Alister MacKenzie.
I understand as well as anyone that golf courses shouldn’t be a charitable cause and that the state of the game isn’t supporting the number of courses we have in the United States. But the courses that should close shouldn’t be the classic courses without homes. That’s golf in its best form, and I can’t believe these operations can’t be run in a profitable manner.
Maybe the answer is to cut down on the conditioning, given the modest green fees they command. Unfortunately, the golfing public’s expectations are sometimes unrealistic when it comes to course conditions, something superintendents have been complaining about for years.
The bottom line is I don’t like to see courses like Pecan Valley close. It has character, history, charm and challenge, which are traits most courses can’t match. And these are the kinds of courses that every level of golfer enjoys, unlike some modern layouts that only seem to cater to tour pros and high level amateurs.
Fortunately, there may be a contingent in San Antonio forming in an effort to do something to save the course. Guess we’ll have to stay tuned.
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