Long-time Austin resident Ben Crenshaw revealed his plan Wednesday for a restoration and renovation of Lions Municipal Golf Course.
In front of a packed ballroom in the Muny clubhouse, Crenshaw, a 19-time winner on the PGA Tour and now a successful golf course designer with business partner Bill Coore, proposed rerouting many of the holes, returning the embattled Tarrytown course to its layout from 1951-1974.
His plans include an expanded practice facility and a teaching center. He also proposed shifting the entrance of the course from Enfield Road to Lake Austin Boulevard.
The plan enlists the assistance of local land planner Corey Hoffpauir, who has worked on golf resorts from Shenzhen, China to Horseshoe Bay, Texas. Crenshaw will donate his golf course design services as a part of the project.
The cost of the proposal has not yet been determined, but initial estimates are $10-$12 million. Crenshaw and other Save Muny figures are convinced the funds can be raised privately for the project.
“We feel confident we can go to the private sector, both to individuals and foundations, to raise this money,” said Scott Sayers, Crenshaw’s long-time friend and business manager. “The generous nature of the Austin community has always come forth when it comes to saving our precious green space, and Muny is without question one of our city’s most important historic, recreational pieces of parkland.”
Until recently, the future of Muny looked bleak. The University of Texas System did not appear to be open to negotiations of the lease past 2019.
The UT System has softened its stance in recent months on the matter. In a letter dated Jan. 17, 2016, University of Texas President Greg Fenves indicated the university would be willing to negotiate a lease extension past 2019. But, the lease would come at a much higher cost. Nevertheless, this marked a major victory for Save Muny.
“I’m so excited at this point that we have some important things to talk about. Some more hope,” Crenshaw said.
Crenshaw’s plans for the course depend on negotiations between the city of Austin and the UT System to extend the lease past May 2019. Another possibility is the passage of a Texas Senate bill proposed last week by Sen. Craig Estes, a Republican from Wichita Falls. The bill would shift ownership of the land to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department from the UT System.
It is not clear how much support the bill has within the legislature.
“Just as it is hard to imagine New York without Central Park, New Orleans without City Park, Houston without Memorial Park and San Antonio without Brackenridge Park, it is impossible to consider Austin without Lions Muny,” Crenshaw said in a press release.