The City of Liberty says renovations to Liberty Municipal Golf Course are wrapping up in the coming weeks, and city leaders are now eyeing a grand opening in October, a date that could be shifted slightly depending on weather and other delays.
The golf course first closed in April 2021 to begin a $2.88 million renovation project approved by the City and funded by the Cambridge Fund, which comes from profits from the Sam Rayburn Municipal Power Agency. In 2018, the Liberty Community Development Corporation purchased the nine-hole golf course, formerly known as Magnolia Ridge Golf Course, and assists with its annual operating expenses.
The golf course was expected to open in January 2022, but that was delayed by problems with the turf, heavy rains in the winter and drought conditions in the summer.
Chris Jarmon, assistant city manager for the City of Liberty, and City Manager Tom Warner provided Council with an update on the project at the Aug. 23 council meeting.
“All of the greens are in pretty good shape except for No. 1. There are a couple of thin areas. We think we can start growing those in within the next five weeks,” Jarmon said. “We have about 10 tees that didn’t get a lot of coverage and we are talking about re-sodding those 10 so they are playable within a week.”
Jarmon said there are still some issues with the No. 7 and 8 fairways, but he expects those to be resolved in time for the October grand opening.
Council members were also given a list of proposed golf course fees to consider. Using figures from 18-hole golf courses in the neighboring communities of Humble, Atasocita, Mont Belvieu, Anahuac, Beaumont and Huffman, the City came up with the proposed fee schedule.
“We added a non-resident fee for someone who doesn’t live in the city limits. They are $4 higher than base fees, which is a city resident fee. There is a $1 premium for playing on the weekend. We provide junior, senior and military discounts, and have a cart fee of $8 for residents and $10 for non-residents,” Warner said.
The proposed fees for annual memberships are $525 for individuals, $1,100 for families, $550 for trail fees (private carts) and $750 for cart shed rentals. The proposed tournament fee is $40 per person per day.
During the discussion about how “residents” should be defined and how residency should be proven, Councilwoman Dianne Driggers said she believes that all who pay property taxes, including business owners, in the City should also enjoy the benefits of being a “resident” even if they live outside the City.
She also suggested allowing people to walk the trails without a fee requirement.
“I don’t see a financial issue. You will have so few that I don’t see it having a major impact,” she said.
Mayor Carl Pickett said he would advise against allowing walkers as it could be a liability for the City, particularly when he plays golf and misses the fairways.
“You better wear your hard hat,” he said jokingly.
Warner asked Council if they would like to consider having a policy of no walkers on the golf course and requiring golfers to use carts for the trails.
Councilwoman Libby Simonson expressed concern for student golfers, who she believes should be exempted from any policy that requires golf cart use.
Warner encouraged Council to give serious consideration to any changes they want to make to the fee schedule and policies in weeks leading up to the grand opening.
“If we are going to make changes, it would be better to make them now instead of when the course opens,” he said.
He shared projections that indicate the newly-renovated Liberty Municipal Golf Course should see an increase in business.
“Before the course closed, we were averaging 8,000 to 9,000 rounds of golf annually. Jeff Blum (who designed the course) indicated that it should be 10,000 to 15,000 rounds of golf after this,” Warner said.