The deep, dark secrets behind the scenes at the Harlingen Tony Butler Golf Course can easily be found, simply by asking some of the regular players and members what is their opinion of the real condition of the golf course.
After reading the news report in the Valley Morning Star awhile back (October 2016), about how nice the fairways and greens here at the city’s golf course and how well it is progressing, the golfers that regularly play here do not agree.
Actually, just about everyone fully disagrees with the explanation of the course’s condition.
The players say, “It is somewhat embarrassing to invite our friends from other courses to visit.” We have to start apologizing from the first tee to the last.
In order to characterize and represent the high level of competition, the golf course has to offer, not only to friends and Winter Texans, but to other visitors looking for a place to settle down and call home.
Harlingen can stand high on the list with new, improved playgrounds, the coming of a great new convention center, the downtown improvements and a lot more.
At the golf course, when you walk up to hole No. 1 tee box, you see what appears to be a beautiful nice open green fairway with tall palms waving and inviting you to swing away and have a wonderful day of golf.
However, because of the bad fairway conditions, with hard clay base, hardpan spots painted green, he finishes the hole with a quadruple bogie on an easy par 5 … on to the next hole?
We may need to refer to this one as a reincarnation because of the damaged fairways, sand traps and greens need a real golf expert supervision in order to give them new life.
It is totally obvious to the people playing the course regularly that the fairways are not in topnotch condition. There is still crabgrass, sticky ground cover, weed patches and clover still taking over the fairways. There are also patches of crabgrass growing in spots on the greens.
There are still spots of just hardpan dirt or mud in the fairways that are painted green so it won’t be noticed. But it is noticed by the players as they slip in the mud, dig their clubs into the hard clay type dirt. Some players complain of wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries after playing.
I have been a regular member for over 30 years. Now, I can’t play golf due to a shoulder injury obtained on the TBGC in September of 2016.
The 7:30 group, the 8 o’clock group and the Pan American group all do not agree with the story. The Winter Texans complain about the conditions of the fairways and greens all the time.
I haven’t talked to the coaches of the high school golf leagues, but if they are paying attention to the fairway conditions, they too would probably not be happy with the progress and recovery of the golf course.
I am not saying the people running the course are not trying their dead best to try to remedy the problems. But, as over two years of trying should show, the problem is not going to solve itself.
It is about time to get some outside help. It will cost the city up front. But it will pay off in the long run. Several Winter Texans said they won’t be back next year unless this golf course is fixed.
There are a couple nearby golf courses that have closed down and those players will be looking for a home. Tony Butler is their preferred place.
They say, “I’ll join if they get these fairways and greens fixed.” Their revenue will help fill the void during the slow summer months and will keep activity here year round.
The city of Harlingen planners need to get their heads together and make the changes necessary to get outside professional help to get this problem solved. Do it before we miss out on all the future customers.
Several of them are already committed to go to Florida next season.
Curtis Hatcher Harlingen