I am now and will forever be a homer for municipal golf, and there are few Dallas experiences I dig more than closing out the work week with twilight holes at Stevens Park. Get there after 4 p.m., and for $36 you can play until the sun dips, catching a glimpse or two of the Dallas skyline even as most of the Kessler Park track feels treed and secluded. It’s good and fun times.
Which is why I was as bummed as anyone at the news earlier this year that one of the city’s gems would have to shut down during the peak of the season.
But after two months closed and an estimated half-a-million dollars in renovations—not all of that toward the greens—Stevens has returned. And I can confirm after a post-work jaunt around the front 9 last Friday that it’s looking more tidy and manicured than ever. Changes include a rebuilt tee box at the first, re-sodded worn patches of grass surrounding cart paths, and trimmed back trees. Drainage and irrigation issues were also addressed.
“It was a bad event losing the greens,” says Stevens Director of Golf Jim Henderson. “But the city of Dallas took that and spun it around so that it became a really good deal.”
The decision to shut it down didn’t come easy. The problems emerged in late March, when management noticed the greens weren’t shaping up as usual. Henderson says greenskeeper techniques and a pre-emergent herbicide were deemed the culprits. It’s not uncommon for courses to have some issues here and there, but this struck every putting surface. After a few weeks of dumping fertilizer to try to turn things around, it became clear things weren’t getting better any time soon.
Henderson says the course was reinvigorated in 2011 when a renovation spurred renewed, heavy traffic from golfers across the city. Keeping a golf course profitable is not particularly easy these days, and he’s rightfully protective of the reputation his course enjoys. That, he says, was at stake when the greens started to go.
The city could have conceivably grown them back over time and tried to weather a long storm. Instead, on May 13, it closed down for that costly, two-month renovation. The course re-opened on July 19. Henderson estimates lost revenue over that period at—gulp—$625,000.
“Golfers would’ve had to suffer through it, our reputation would’ve suffered through it, and thankfully the city decided this would be a better way to address it,” says Henderson. “And I agree with them 100 percent.”