Harlingen launches $ 1.3 million golf course project

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November 3 — HARLINGEN – The Tony Butler Golf Course is ready for a big makeover.

On Wednesday, city commissioners plan to close a contract paying $ 217,500 to Houston-based Jeffrey D. Blume Golf Course Architects to design a $ 3.1 million renovation plan to bring players back to the course that has been running deficits for more than eight years.

To fund the project, officials turned to the Harlingen Community Improvement Board’s eighth-cent sales tax, which is intended to fund projects eligible for life.

Meanwhile, Tony Butler’s Executive Nine reopened on Monday as part of the committee’s new majority plan to attract winter Texans and young golfers to play on their favorite little course.

“People are already playing there,” Javier Mendez, director of the city’s parks, said on Tuesday. “This month we’re going to see a lot of Winter Texans.”

An architect to design the renovation of an 18-hole course

Last month, commissioners chose Blume’s company over Arlington-based GolfScapes Inc. and Ross Golf Design in Austin to launch the project after about five years of planning.

On Wednesday, commissioners are expected to approve Blume’s contract to design the renovation of the 18-hole golf course.

“The scope of work will include the design of a new irrigation system, the renovation of the greens, the design of the drainage improvement and the renovation of the bunkers,” Mendez wrote in the summary of the agenda of the meeting.

As part of the project, officials are planning a $ 1.9 million overhaul of the golf course’s old irrigation system, a $ 575,575 upgrade to its greens, and the development of a drainage of $ 264,000 along low lying areas.

Now they are working in a narrow window of time to complete the project.

“We are trying to get Blume on board as soon as possible,” Mendez said. “Our window of opportunity to plant grass and sod is in May. This is the optimum growth period for the lawn. So we still have to do the drainage and irrigation. “

By January, Mendez plans to ask for offers from contractors with experience in golf course renovations – “someone who knows the type of irrigation system we want to install, someone who can redo the greens and do the drainage, ”he said.

In February, he plans to start the construction project.

Mendes said Blume will help determine the timeline for the project.

Executive Nine reopens its doors

Meanwhile, the new majority of the board is counting on the reopening of the Executive Nine to generate revenue and help the golf course start to pay off.

In July, the new majority voted to reopen the small course after the previous commission closed holes 19 to 27 to reduce maintenance costs while considering the sale of a 30-acre lot crossing holes 19 to 23, prime land along Interstate 69. Frontage road estimated to be worth about $ 5 million.

At the time, officials planned to use the money to fund improvements to the golf course as part of their plan to attract golfers.

But they introduced a decades-old city resolution limiting the use of the land to parks and recreation, Commissioner Frank Puente said, adding that voters should decide whether the city can sell the land.

For more than three months, Jeff Hart, general manager of the golf course, and his team have been working to restore the small course to playable condition.

In their budget, officials set the cost of reopening the short course at approximately $ 36,882, including $ 23,312 for repairing the greens through a seeding, aeration, fertilization and mowing program as well as $ 11,816 to repair irrigation sprinklers.

“The fairway is in good shape and the greens,” Mendez said. “We fixed all the sprinkler heads. We mowed everything and maintained.”

Now officials are tracking the number of golfers playing Executive Nine to help determine if they will continue to fund the short course.

Based on Commissioner Frank Morales’ request, officials modified the golf course’s point-of-sale software to track the number of golfers playing the Executive Nine, Mendez said.

“Every time we call up a green fee and a cart it comes back,” he said, adding that the golf course was used to track players on handwritten graphics. “It tracks all of our sales and inventory.”

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