A fundraising effort during the last few months has garnered nearly $800,000 to upgrade the public golf courses in Tulsa, Okla. The Citizens Golf Advisory Committee’s goal is to raise $1 million to secure a $1 million funding match from the city. Once the money is in hand, work will be focused on improving Mohawk Park Golf Course, starting with the installation of a new irrigation system.
The local Tulsa, Okla. golf community has raised nearly $800,000 since May to improve the city’s public golf courses, Tulsa World reported.
That’s a big chunk of change, but it’s still $200,000 shy of the $1 million needed to secure a $1 million match from the city.
Golf course designer Randy Heckenkemper, who sits on the Citizens Golf Advisory Committee, which is leading the fundraising effort, said he’s been thrilled with the response from local golfers, Tulsa World reported.
“To raise nearly $800,000 since May, it shows a huge commitment and support of public golf in the Tulsa community that I don’t think the 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’re not there yet. As of Aug. 30, the committee had raised $788,000, including a $250,000 donation from PGA of America’s nonprofit PGA Reach Foundation, Tulsa World reported.
The Tulsa Public Golf Course Alliance released a video Aug. 29 showing the improvements that have already been made at the Stone Creek and Olde Page golf courses at Page Belcher, Tulsa World reported.
The $500,000 in work was paid for with greens fees from 2020 and 2021, when golfing 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 has done a great job of fertilizing and watering, and part of the surplus funds … (was for) supplementing the fertilizing and watering budget.”
Heckenkemper told Tulsa World that once the Citizens Advisory Committee has raised the $1 million in private funds and has the public dollars in hand, it expects to focus next on the city’s other 36-hole golf course, Mohawk Park, beginning with installation of a new irrigation system.
The Mohawk Park golf course has natural sources of water such as Lake Yahola nearby but no reliable way to get the water onto the golf course, Heckenkemper said to Tulsa World.
“You see water everywhere, but their irrigation system is so old and broken that they really are only able to water the greens areas right now,” he said. “And so the greens look good, but the rest of it is brown.”
Other work planned for the city’s golf courses includes bunker renovations, cart path repairs, and more tree and turf grass improvements, Tulsa World reported.
Parks and Recreation Department Director Anna America said it’s been great to see the community step up in a major way.
“The city, private donors and the golfers themselves are all pulling together to invest in the public courses and make them something Tulsans can be proud of,” she said.
Heckenkemper said he is hopeful that Tulsans will continue to pull together to raise the remaining private money needed to get the city funding, which would come out of the nearly $88 million Tulsa received in American Rescue Plan Act money, Tulsa World reported.
“I think the feedback that we are getting from the golfers at Page (Belcher), where we spent the money so far, is that they are shocked,” he said. “It was a gradual decline, going from really good condition to really bad, and the golfers are really pleased and surprised that we have been able to turn the corner so quickly.”