Fundraising for city golf courses going well, officials say, but more donations needed | Policy

The local golf community has raised nearly $800,000 since May to improve the city’s public golf courses.

It’s a big change, but it’s still $200,000 less than the $1 million in private dollars needed to get a $1 million match from the city.

Golf course designer Randy Heckenkemper, who sits on the Citizens Golf Advisory Committee leading the fundraising effort, said he was delighted with the response from local golfers.

“To raise nearly $800,000 since May shows tremendous commitment and support for public golf in the Tulsa community that I don’t think city officials anticipated,” Heckenkemper said. “People who don’t even play it understand the importance of what public golf does to a community.”

But they are not there yet. As of Tuesday, the committee had raised $788,000, including a $250,000 donation from the non-profit PGA Reach Foundation of the PGA of America.

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Anyone wishing to donate to the Tulsa Public Golf Course Alliance fund can go online to [email protected] or call 918-494-8823.

The organization released a video on Monday showing improvements already made to the Stone Creek and Olde Page golf courses in Page Belcher.

The $500,000 job was paid for with 2020 and 2021 green fees, when golf boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We removed trees and topsoil, added 6½ acres of sod to repair areas,” Heckenkemper said. “And then the maintenance staff did a great job of fertilizing and watering, and some of the excess funds…(used to) top up the fertilizing and watering budget.”

Heckenkemper said that once the citizens’ advisory committee raises the $1 million in private funds and has the public funds in hand, he plans to then focus on the city’s other 36-hole golf course, Mohawk Park, beginning with the installation of a new irrigation system. .

The Mohawk Park golf course has natural water sources such as Lake Yahola nearby, but no reliable way to bring water to the golf course, Heckenkemper said.

“You see water everywhere, but their irrigation system is so old and broken that they can only really water green spaces right now,” he said. “And so the greens look good, but the rest is brown.”

Other work planned for the city’s golf courses includes bunker renovations, cart path repairs and other tree and turf improvements.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Anna America said it was great to see the community pull together in a major way.

“The city, private donors and golfers themselves are coming together to invest in public courses and make them something Tulsans can be proud of,” she said.

Heckenkemper said he hopes Tulsans will continue to come together to raise the remaining private funds needed to secure the city’s funding, which will come from the nearly $88 million Tulsa has received in American Rescue Plan Act money. .

“I think the feedback we’re getting from golfers at Page (Belcher), where we’ve spent the money so far, is that they’re shocked,” he said. “It was a gradual decline from very good to very poor, and golfers are really pleased and surprised that we were able to turn the corner so quickly.”

Michael C. Ford