By: Shilo Urban
Some things never cease to bewilder. Our government is one of them. It has suddenly decided that the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay need nicer accommodations.
That’s right. The federal government is planning to spend millions on renovations, which will include better housing, cable TV and a brand new soccer field. Are you believing that? First, we waterboard them. Now, we’re going to make them play soccer. Will this abuse never end?
But local government can be equally puzzling.
A few weeks ago, the Fort Worth City Council voted 6-1 to close the legendary Z. Boaz Golf Course. Located just west of downtown, Z. Boaz was built back in 1930. It was frequented by such icons as Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Dan Jenkins. In fact, Dan chose Z. Boaz as the site for his annual invitational golf tournament, known for plenty of beer and his wife June’s famous meatloaf sandwiches. It was an event some of us will never remember.
You see, back in the day, Z. Boaz was unique. And what made it so unique was the way it was maintained. There are very few things found in nature that were harder than those fairways. Long drive contests usually had to be settled the next day, because that’s when the ball stopped rolling. The rough was actually the nicest part of the course. The only time anyone had difficulty finding the ball was if it landed on the green.
I doubt there’s a golfer in this area who hasn’t played that golf course. And I guarantee you that every one of them has a horror story. But here’s the thing. When they talk about it, they’re always smiling. It’s kind of like being thrown in jail with a real cute date. You really don’t want to be there, but deep down, you’re loving every minute of it.
That’s why there’s a soft spot in everybody’s heart for Z. Boaz. It has even received national recognition. Several years ago, it was voted one of America’s 20 worst golf courses. And although we may poke fun at it, here’s something you may not know. It was designed by one of the best golf architects of all time, John Bredemus. That just happens to be the same guy who designed Colonial Country Club a few years later. (John obviously got a little better at his job.)
Of course the reason the City Council voted to close the course and turn it into a park is because it hasn’t generated enough revenue lately. I’m not sure about this, but I’m guessing that one of the adjoining landowners is pretty upset with the idea of a family attraction. It might scare off the clientele. After all, it’s probably a little awkward hearing the words “there’s Daddy” when you’re strolling through the parking lot at Rick’s Cabaret.
Now I like a park as much as the next guy, but according to the City Council’s own analysts, the conversion of Z. Boaz would cost upwards of $7 million. Plus, it’s going to cost around $150,000 a year just to maintain. How are we going to pay for that? Swing sets don’t generate a lot of income.
And if the Council wants to get rid of things that are too costly to maintain, how do members explain Camp Bowie? Every brick on that street is replaced at least once a month. But as much as I complain about having to drive on them, I’d sure miss those bricks if they were gone.
Same with Z. Boaz.
The landscape of Fort Worth is changing at a rapid pace. Seventh Street is now unrecognizable, save for the old Montgomery Ward building. That may be good, but it’s a little sad watching the few remnants of the past gradually disappear. That’s why I want to save that little golf course.
There’s a faint glimmer of hope. If fans can prove by the Sept. 30 closing date that the course is financially sustainable, the Council will revisit the decision.
I don’t have much money, but I’d be willing to skip watching Maury a couple of days a week and donate my time. If you’re willing to chip in some money, I’ll caddy for you. I’ll even tend the pin while you putt.
Assuming, of course, we can find your ball.
By: Shilo Urban