Lloyd Morrison’s Scheduled Departure From Lions Municipal

A combination of factors are about to result in Lloyd Morrison ending a 35 year tenure as head professional at Lions Municipal Golf Course.   Those factors include the expiration of  Lloyd Morrison's contract for operation of Lions Municipal and Hancock pro shops, the renovation of Morris Williams golf course, and decisions by the City of Austin about how to manage Austin's municipal golf courses during the rennovation of Morris Williams and into the future.    

This article will explore these factors, acknowledge Lloyd Morrison's accomplishments as a golfer and a golf professional, and hear Lloyd Morrison's comments on his 45 years of golfing experiences in Austin.  We start with one factor that has served as a catalyst for all this change, that being the renovation of Morris Williams Golf Course. 

Renovations at Morris Williams Golf Course
Using 2006 bond money along with some funding from the water and electric departments,
Morris Williams is about to undergo a complete rennovation of the clubhouse and some modifications to the golf course.  The familiar front counter and snack bar shown here will give way to a larger clubhouse and pavillion.

Images of the rennovation have been on display at Morris Williams for some time and represent the concept of the clubhouse changes.  Although the scope of the project is not, final Kevin Gomillion – Director of Golf for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, has indicated there will be renovation of greens, tees and perhaps some fairways.  With respect to design Gomillion indicates that this will be an inhouse project.  He commented that they have staff that have done golf course design and construction and that they will use USGA standards for any green construction or modification.     


Staffing Changes
Lloyd Morrison's latest 90 day extention of his contract to manage Lions Municipal Golf Course and Hancock Golf pro shops will expire February 15, 2012.   At that time, City of Austin personnel will begin operating the pro shops at Lions Municipal and Hancock.  Beth Cleckler, Golf Manager at Morris Williams,  has been designated to manage the pro shop operations at Lions and Hancock during this period of  renovation at Morris Williams.  The staff from Morris Williams will be used to operate Lions Municipal and Hancock pro shops and they will be supplemented with additional city employees where necessary.   Some consideration will be given to the Lloyd Morrison's staff in filling any open positions at Lions and Hancock golf courses.      

Lloyd Morrison, Lions Municipal and Hancock Golf courses
People in Austin who know the name of Lloyd Morrison think of him as the head professional at Lions Municipal Golf Course.  Lions Municipal and Lloyd Morrison have been so closely entwined over the last 35 years that they seem almost synonymous.  Not many folks are aware that Lloyd was one of the best players in Austin during his youth. Nor do they realize that Lloyd is the last in the long line of independent businessmen that have contracted with the city to operate municipal golf course pro shops and driving ranges.  Both aspects of Lloyd Morrison's presence are part of the history of golf in Austin and are worthy of recognition.      

Lloyd Morrison the Golfer
Morrison was smitten with the golfing bug at age 13.  That was in 1961.   Four years later he had won the the Austin’s Men’s City Championship, the City Jaycee Junior Tournament, finished second in the state junior (which at the time included players 21 and younger), qualified for the Texas Open and made the cut at Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio. Quite a record by the age of seventeen. Click on the image below to enlarge text and trace the action of the match play city championship.   Lloyd's march to the title in the City Championship included victories over Roane  Puett, the only five time winner of the Men's City Championship and George McCall, who was also a Men's City Champion.    

Listen to Lloyd's comments on his playing experiences during this time period in the following audio: LM – Beginning Golf, Winning the City, 2nd in state Jr.

Oddly enough, Lloyd did not play golf in high school.  It turns out that he was winning some of the tournaments on the central Texas Bar-B-Circuit and accepting merchandise prizes. Under the University Interscholastic League rules, accepting the sets of irons or woods that were given as prizes in those days made him ineligible to compete in UIL tournaments.  So, despite the fact that he was one of the best players in town in his age group, there was no high school golf for Lloyd Morrison.  Click on the following link  to hear his story of the high school years and who was playing at Austin High School at the time he attended there. LM – high school

In 1967 Lloyd started college at a Junior College in Houston with the intention of transferring to the University of Houston and playing for Dave Williams, the legendary coach at U of H, who had offered him a partial scholarship. After his freshman year he returned to Austin for the summer and played in a partnership tournament at Morris Williams, which he won. 

Subsequent to that tournament George Hannon, the head professional at Morris Williams and Lions Municipal, as well as the golf coach at the University of Texas at Austin, offered Lloyd a part-time job at Lions Municipal for the summer.  Lloyd accepted the offer and went to work for George Hannon as a part-time employee in the summer of 1967.  He decided that he liked working in the golf business. 

When fall rolled around and it was time to go back to school, Lloyd decided that rather than return to school in Houston he would rather stay in Austin and work in the golf business.  He enrolled in St. Edwards to continue his education and worked part time at Lions Municipal Golf Course.  Phillip George, Joe Balander and Lloyd Morrison were all at Lions Municipal at the time. In 1969 Lloyd turned professional.  Lloyd recounts this phase of his career in this audio clip. LM – starts in golf industry

 Lloyd Morrison's chronology as a golf professional in Austin

  • 1967 Started working part-time at Lions Municipal and attending St. Edwards University.
  • 1969 Turned professional and went to work full time at Lions Municipal Golf Course
  • 1969 Enlisted in the National Guard and served six month active duty
  • 1970 Went to work at Morris Williams Golf Course as an assistant professional
  • 1973 Won the contract to manage Hancock Golf Course and became the Head professional at Hancock Golf Course
  • 1977 added Lions Municipal Golf Course to his contract and moved to Lions as head professional   

Management of City of Austin Municipal Golf Course Pro Shops by Independent Contractors 
The City of Austin has contracted with independent businessmen/golf professionals to run the pro shops at all of Austin's municipal golf courses.  The independent contractor arrangement resulted in a shared responsibility for the operation of municipal golf courses with the basic arrangement being that that independent contractor operated the pro shop and driving range and the city managed the course itself.   Hear Lloyd's description of how this arrangement has worked over the years in the following audio clip.LM – independent contractor beginnings

Operation of city golf course pro shops by independent contractors who were PGA professionals was the norm until George Hannon retired from operating Morris Williams in the early 1990’s.  At that time, the city took over the operation of Morris Williams Pro Shop and Driving Range and staffed the clubhouse with city emplolyees.  The trend of replacing independent contractors with city employees continued when Joe Balander retired from operation of the Jimmy Clay/Roy Kizer complex in the late 1990’s, at which time the city took over operations at both courses.  

Operation of Lions Municipal Golf Course

Lions Municipal has been operated under an independent contractor for the last several generations.  Shown here, Tom Penick shakes the hand of George Hannon, who followed Penick in managing Lions Municipal Golf Course. Penick had operated Lions Municipal for 34 years prior to that and as noted in the text below the picture, was retiring to do some hunting. Click on the image to enlarge the text, then use the back button to return to this article.

Morrison's contract for management of Lions Municipal and Hancock golf courses expired in March 2011 and has been extended several times on a 90 basis. The window for extentions of his contract is now closings due to legal considerations of city contract guidelines.  During these extentions, Morrison suffered from Colitus and was severly ill.  His 35 employees kept Lions and Hancock running smoothly during his illness.  He has since fully recovered.  Morrison's employees do not work for the city and will be terminated when his management contract expires.  

Management contracts for the golf course have traditionally been for five years to allow the independent contractors adequate time horizons for purchase agreements with vendors for golf carts, merchandise etc.  To offer a contract with a shorter time horizon would not be practical.  Nor would it be ethical or a resonable expectation to offer a sole-source bid to Lloyd for another year. After interviewing Kevin Gomillion – Director of Golf for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department on this subject, it appears that while it would have been nice if Lloyd's contract could have been extended for another year, it simply was not practical under the purchasing guidelines and contracting guidelines of the city. 

If a new contract were to be put in place, it would need to have a long enough time line to be workable, and as mentioned, those have been five year contracts in the past.   The city's financial analysis of operating these facilities indicates that the transition to city employees will be basically revenue nuetral or slightly beneficial to the city.    Gomillion expressed the difficulty of making these decisions in terms of his personal relationships with Lloyd and his staff on one side of the equation and his fiduciary responsibilities as Austin's Director of Golf on the other.   After his consultations with his staff, the city purchasing department and others at the city, it was simply more practical to manage the pro shops at Lions and Hancock using city employees.  Listen to Lloyd Morrison's comments from his perspective.
LM – Transitions at MW, Lions, Hancock_2

End of an Era at Lions Municipal and Hancock
In many respects this is the end of an era in Austin's golfing history.  This will be the end of Lloyd Morrison's operation of Lions Municipal Golf Course.  And, like Tom Penick and George Hannon before him, it is a notable transition.   Lloyd Morrison has made significant contributions to the Austin golfing community during his tenure at Lions. 

Listen to Lloyds reflections on the past 45 years of being involved in the golfing community, the contributions of his staff, the tournaments and the programs that have been started or fostered during that time and what it has meant to the community.   LM – Reflections on past_1

Of all the tournaments and programs instituted during Lloyds tenure he is most proud of the Lions Spring Partnership Tournament.  Listen to his comments here.LM – Reflections on past_2

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