A golfer practices his swing before entering the course at Historic Brackenridge Park Golf Course.
A golfer practices putting before a round at the historic Brackenridge Park Golf Course. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Golf is sometimes referred to as “the greatest game.” That is because golf teaches its players – especially young ones – life skills such as honesty, integrity, and perseverance.  Golf is a game of self-discipline, focus, and skill in which the golf course is the opponent.

One of the most influential people to ever play the game, the great Bobby Jones, once said, “The secret to golf is to turn three shots into two.” In San Antonio, the nonprofit  Alamo City Golf Trail turned eight poorly operated, City-run golf facilities into one great golf system.

Prior to 2007, the City of San Antonio’s municipal golf courses were operating at a financial loss. The courses were mismanaged and underfunded, and customer service was nonexistent. Today, playing the municipal golf system is a vastly different experience, and those changes all started at the historic Brackenridge Park Golf Course, otherwise known as Old Brack.

December will mark the 10th anniversary of the re-opening of the historic Brackenridge Park Golf Course. Originally designed in 1915 by noted golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast, Old Brack was the first public, 18-hole golf course in Texas. From 1922 to 1959, it hosted the Texas Open professional tournament, which in the beginning boasted the largest purse of any golf event. In the late 1960s, the construction of U.S. Highway 281 cut off a portion of the golf course and removed the river from several of the holes, sending the course into disrepair.

In 2007, the Alamo City Golf Trail, the City of San Antonio, and the local golf community, recognized Old Brack’s historic significance and ongoing importance to the San Antonio and Texas golf scene. The City provided the Golf Trail with funding to restore the course, and the Golf Trail’s board of directors hired a noted architect to restore the course to its original design and grandeur. The historic clubhouse was updated and an outside pavilion added, resulting in many awards for the restoration.

Historic Brackenridge Park Golf Course.
The restored clubhouse at the Brackenridge Park Golf Course Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Significantly, the Golf Trail restored the historic Borglum Studio to become an events center. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum created the original designs for Mount Rushmore and other famous statues from the building.

Now, Old Brack is again host to significant golf events and the home of the Texas Golf Hall of Fame. The Hall’s “Walk of Fame” connects the clubhouse to the Borglum Studio, and the clubhouse contains artifacts and photos of Hall of Fame inductees. In the future, the Golf Trail and the Texas Golf Hall of Fame will be adding more facilities at Old Brack to create another landmark museum along the Museum Reach of the San Antonio River Walk and will further enhance the Broadway Cultural Corridor.

The Hall of Fame at Historic Brackenridge Park Golf Course.
The Hall’s “Wall of Fame” at the Brackenridge Park Golf Course. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The Brackenridge Park Golf Course is the flagship for the eight courses in San Antonio’s municipal golf inventory. Without Old Brack, the economics of the rest of the Golf Trail do not work. And with the upgrade in the quality of the municipal golf facilities, San Antonio now offers a superior golf product that is accessible to all at a reasonable fee.

Members of the national and statewide golf communities have applauded and congratulated San Antonio for the work at Old Brack after 10 years. The Golf Trail’s CEO, Jim Roschek, is retiring at the end of this year, and on Dec. 10 the board of directors will acknowledge his leadership and honor him at its holiday party.

Like Jim, Old Brack is a treasure and worthy of acknowledgement from the community. To learn more about the course and golf history in San Antonio, click here. 

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Reid Meyers

Reid Meyers is the founding board chairman of the Alamo City Golf Trail and currently serves on the board of the Texas Golf Hall of Fame.