In less than a month, the University golf course is expected to be torn down -- as construction crews begin a 1.75-million dollar renovation project. But will the new course ultimately drive up fees for golfers?
“We started playing last summer a whole lot,” said Texas A&M Junior Tyler Rosser.
Tyler Rosser said having a golf course in your backyard is just one perk of being an Aggie.
“This summer we started playing some more, and so we were going to get a membership,” he added.
The next perk to playing golf on campus, he says, is the price. For $799 a year A&M students have almost unlimited access to the course; the same goes for senior citizens for $810; and the community for $1,100.
“It’s a lot cheaper to play here than it is in Bryan or Briarcrest,” Rosser said.
When September rolls around, Rosser and the rest of the University Golf Club members will have to find an alternative once the course closes for renovations.
"I re-arranged my schedule for next semester so I could play Monday, Wednesday and Friday's in the afternoon, so after hearing about the closing, it kind of killed my plans," added Rosser. "I just heard they were just going to redo everything."
Houston-based “Landscapes Unlimited” will be handling the $1.75-million construction project. According to the university, all 18 holes will be renovated and three more holes will be added for research. The driving range will be expanded, new water and bunker hazards will be added, as well as a full service snack bar.
“They’ve been talking about the renovations for as long as I can remember,” said Nelson. “Although God has been a good greens-keeper the last few months, the course definitely needs an irrigation system.”
University officials say one of the main goals of the project is to keep greens fees low and affordable for students.
"That might be good for the students, but what about the senior citizens?" questioned Nelson. "We've been playing here every Monday as a group for the last, oh, six, seven years."
The university is outsourcing the management of the golf course to Sterling Golf Management Inc. The renovations will begin once the contract is signed in August. With a new management company behind the wheel, many senior golfers we spoke to fear the price that comes with the new course could drive them to find a more affordable place to play.
“The Sterling group is not taking over for the fun of it, so if they're going to put $1.7-million into it, they're going to want to recoup some of that,” said University Golf Club member Ted Nelson. “Right now it’s really affordable, the cheapest, in fact. It’s not that we can’t afford to come here, it’s all about making a decision as to whether or not or how we want to spend our money.”
The new fees have yet to be determined; but as a retired A&M Track coach, Ted Nelson says he's anticipating a bigger and better playing field once it reopens in 2013.
“I think this is just a plus that Texas A&M has that not every university has,” added Nelson. “A&M has always been really big into recreation for the students; it’s just disappointing for us old folks because it’s going to close for a year.”
In the meantime Nelson plans on finding an alternative course; one that can handle the heat he and his senior league are bringing to the green.
The target date for completion and re-opening is September 1, 2013 Details, such as employment staffing levels and percentage of profits Texas A&M will receive, remain under discussion and will be determined when a contract is signed.