Sunday, July 20, 2008

Green Fees

There’s been a lot of press in Austin lately about the fate of Muny, a golf course located adjacent to Lady Bird Lake on land owned by the UT but leased to the city. Muny is an old course with short distances (hence walkable, vs. requiring a golf cart) and much favored by beginners and low-key golfers who enjoy its ramshackle charm. Its proximity to water and downtown have caught the attention of developers who want to put the course on steroids and create a different kind of course: private, longer holes, water features, etc. A battle is ensuing between the two camps.

No one has suggested another possibility—that the land become a park for all Austinites. As pleasant as Muny is, do we really need a golf course at all? The number of people who play golf is in steep decline and it’s easy to see why. Golf is a sport that requires a lot of time—leisure time. Its popularity was fueled my father’s generation, a cohort of men who retired with time and money at 65 and played golf every day. This generation is dying off and with it, legions of golfers. Baby boomers don’t have that much time. They notoriously work 24/7 and on weekends, are more involved with childcare and family than my father and his contemporaries were. Boomers aren’t likely to retire at 65, and will have less income to spend on green fees when they do. Most of the remaining golfers are the leisured wealthy. So why not consider making Muny a park?

Grassy swards are also the subject of an article in this week’s New Yorker (the one that got all the attention for its Obama cover). Elizabeth Kolbert provides a concise history of our American obsession with front lawns. She states that the Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that a THIRD of all residential water use in the U.S. on landscaping.

Guilty as charged. That would me, watering my dead lawn.


Anonymous said...

That's a great idea, Libby. It's a beautiful location for a park, and it would protect that green space from developers and let us all enjoy it.

Bob said...

Also Golf courses use more herbacide, insecticide, and fertilizer than a commercial farm of the same size. Wild life wise, they are dead zones. Plant diversity is non-existant. If it's not an oak or an elm, it gets cut down. Just pitiful.
I think you have a great idea.