The planned Iron Gator golf course will have its groundbreaking this week. From the Corpus Christi Caller-Times (if the link doesn't work, go to bugmenot.com to find a login):
Iron Gator sits on 280 acres off State Highway 35 on the northwest side of town. Now it's just a sales trailer, but in two years, plans call for a nine-hole golf course, competition putting green, driving range, and spaces for 1,000 RVs, some in private, gated, customized lots.
Brock Vardsveen, a co-owner in the project, said he and his partner searched across America before pulling their RV plan into Aransas Pass.
RV park/golf course combos are quite popular in Arizona, Nevada and Florida. Vardsveen said they wanted to spread that concept, but land prices were
too high in Florida. They then focused on Texas, beginning in Brownsville, but
were deterred by an increase in crime. High land costs also steered them away
from Padre Island. Aransas Pass is already on a main RV arterial and is near day-trip destinations in Rockport and Corpus Christi. Vardsveen said Aransas Pass seemed the place to build.
The partners hope to entice winter Texans who pull up and stay for three months, and year-round Texans looking for a classy weekend spot for their RV or boat.
The question with projects like this one revolve around just how good - and how expensive - the 9-hole course will be. A 9-hole course in Port Aransas had to close up shop a year or so ago when it was discovered people didn't want to pay $25 or $30 to play an executive course.
If the Aransas Pass course is reasonably priced and has good upkeep, it should thrive. Coastal Bend residents in the area now have to travel to Corpus Christi, Sinton, Rockport or even Goliad or Victoria for a round.
One good sign is that the course will be designed by Arlington's Colligan Golf Design, which builds solid courses on a budget.
Pam Benson, a member on the Aransas Pass Chamber of Commerce and a former RV park owner, said Iron Gator is a fabulous idea, bringing in golfers to the RV park and RVers into golfing.
"When you talk about retired people who are taking their RVs out, they definitely fall in that category of people who love to golf," she said.
RV vacationing and golfing can be expensive, and any sort of combination may bring down the cost of both, she said.
Richard Kolb, who owns the pro shop at the Sinton city course, said the concept of pairing an RV park with a golf course would cater to the Winter Texans he sees golfing around the area.
"Play in golf has dropped some, but winter Texans are looking for something to do," he said.