Friday, January 05, 2007

Say It Ain't Oso!

Oso Beach Municipal Golf Course in Corpus Christi might be about to go the way of the dodo bird.

Extinction.

An article in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times this morning reveals that the city is considering selling or giving Oso and surrounding land to the Texas A&M University System for an expansion of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The university has outgrown the narrow strip of land formerly known as Ward Island on which is sits, near the Naval Air Station, and Oso - across the Cayo del Oso from the school - is the closest piece of land the city could make available.

The Caller-Times reports that deal would be contingent on the city's ability (or willingness) to provide citizens with another course to replace Oso:

City and university officials have been talking about the proposed deal involving about 200 acres since June, and they hope to have a decision within 10 days, City Manager Skip Noe said.

Noe and Hill said they didn't recall where the idea originated, but Noe said the city is willing to let go of the land because the university's success is critical for the region's economic success and long-term growth. However, the deal is dependent on the city finding an alternate municipal golf course by either buying an existing course or building a new one, he said.

Oso Beach Municipal is the golf course of my youth. I've played that wind-blown course with short holes and tiny greens probably thousands of times, although not in about 10 years. If this deal is finalized, I see a road trip in my future for a final, farewell round of golf.

... the city still is considering whether to buy an existing private golf course or build a new municipal course.

A second municipal course to complement the city's Gabe Lozano Sr. Golf Center is necessary because there's a demand for the public courses and most years they are financially self-sufficient, Noe said.

My bet is the city will buy an existing course. There is one semi-private course in Corpus Christi for sale, and and another private one that is bleeding money and headed for the market. The private one is Kings Crossing Country Club on the far southside near Oso Creek. The semi-private one is Pharaohs Golf Club on the southside, very close to Oso golf course.

Kings Crossing in an excellent layout, one of Bill Coore's (of Crenshaw & Coore fame) early designs. But you have to wonder whether the city could maintain a level of conditioning that would keep Kings Crossing among the top courses in town.

Consider Pharaohs the leader in the clubhouse to be purchased by the city and become Corpus Christi's new municipal golf course. I've never considered Pharaohs much better than a typical municipal anyway (in fact, Oso is a much more interesting course). But it did regularly host an LPGA tournament in the early '70s.

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