San Antonio golfers are saddened by the closure on Monday of their beloved Pecan Valley Golf Club. A note listed on the facility website, www.pecanvalleygc.com, said succinctly, “Pecan Valley Golf Club is no longer open for golf. Ownership has decided to cease operations during the off-season months to investigate all viable options for the Pecan Vally (sic) Golf Course.”
Opened in 1963, the course was designed by the acclaimed Press Maxwell. It hosted the 1968 PGA Championship won by Julius Boros, and also held the 2001 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
The course was shut down by owner Foresight Golf Management. Company CEO Ed Miller attributed the closure to the course’s difficulty and its lack of financial viability.
Miller told Golf.com reporter Art Stricklin that he doubted the course would reopen under new management. “I talked to a few people about it, but mainly I’ve tried to talk them out of it,” Miller said to Stricklin. “We probably wouldn’t rule out any alternative, but I don’t think golf is the best alternative for that property.”
Miller noted that Foresight had gone to the city of San Antonio last fall with a proposal to convert the Pecan Valley property into multi-family housing and a nine-hole course.
“The next step is to wait and see what happens,” he told Stricklin. “Obviously we would prefer not to do this, but the cold, hard facts are that having a PGA Championship there 44 years ago does not pay my employees’ salaries, it does not pay property taxes or buy a bag of fertilizer.”
The news of the closure struck local golfers hard. John Pierce told San Antonio Express-News’ reporter Jason Buch that it was like “a kick to the gut.
“This was the place that was always not just where the good golfers played, but where all kinds of golfers played,” Pierce told Buch.
Tracy Holmes seconded those thoughts. “I thought, ‘You can’t close the Pecan.’ It’s got the PGA,” he told Buch (for his full story, visit http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/f054f54ad1604968976525f37b84dc32/TX–Exchange-Golf-Course-Closed/). “It’s a classically designed course. I just hope somebody picks it up. It’s just too great a course.”
Local stockbroker Chip Puhl, a former golf pro and USGA volunteer, is behind a plan to purchase the course and give it to the city to run. He plans to follow the foundation model that helped save East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
“We’re in this fight until the very end, until we win this battle or there is nothing left to fight for,” Puhl said.
Puhl plans to create a new organization called the San Antonio Municipal Golf Foundation to raise $2.5 million; he told Stricklin he already has pledges from some wealthy local citizens. “The money is in place; all we need is a willing seller,” Puhl said.
“We’re in this fight until the very end, until we win this battle or there is nothing left to fight for,” Puhl told Stricklin (for his full story, visit http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/san-antonio-golfers-working-plan-save-pecan-valley-site-1968-pga-championship).
Ruffin Moore, the head pro who left Pecan Valley when Foresight took over the reins in 2008, is supportive of Puhl’s efforts. “When I left Pecan Valley for the last time, I told them I was leaving them the crown jewels, don’t mess ’em up,” Moore told Stricklin. “It appears they have.”
Noel Precie is another supporter of the course getting a new life, even though it’s been kicking his butt for 25 years. “After four hours, you’ve got a friend,” Precie told Buch.
“That’s I guess the magical thing about golf. You’re not competing against each other; you’re competing against the course. And this course has been beating me up for years.”