AUSTIN (KXAN) - One of Austin's most storied golf courses may be on borrowed time.
Part of the Riverside Golf Course, once home to the city's country club where PGA stars like Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw honed their talents 40 years ago could be ripe for redevelopment once a lease deal with Austin Community College expires in December.
The current property owner of the 195 acre site, ACC is working on expansion plans for its Riverside campus. The college is considering using part of the public golf course on Grove Boulevard to help accommodate four-thousand more students by 2025.
72 year-old Randy Petri, a one-time PGA tour golfer and a contemporary of Kite and Crenshaw was out playing a round this week at Riverside. He told KXAN it's another example of the Austin's rapid growth squeezing out longtime recreational spaces.
"I'm a golf pro. I wish it would stay, but if it's not going to stay, education's a lot more important than me trying to beat these guys (the other members of his foursome) out here."
Recently, Austin Community College formed a bond advisory committee to take its building expansion plan to the community. A decision is expected by summer on whether to ask for public money in November's election to redevelop up to 20 per cent of Riverside's links and fairways.
The first phase of ACC's master plan includes putting two large buildings on the southern end of the Riverside campus. That would effectively erase the 3 rd and 4 th holes, according to one course staff member.
The businessman who leases the course from ACC and runs it, is hopeful the college can keep golf in its future.
"I don't they have a strong desire to see the golf course go away. I think it's just a matter of whether that's the best thing for them and their expansion plans, said Mike Ussrey of OnCourse Strategies.
Ussrey says depending on what ACC decides, he sees a way to reconfigure the course and keep 18 holes even if some buildings have to be moved.
He admits given the uncertainty of the future of the course, it's difficult to turn a real profit or invest in improving the course. ACC collects $10,520 in monthly lease payments from On Course Strategies.
An ACC spokesperson said the school will solicit for golf course management services this fall before the current lease runs out in December.
The new lease will incorporate any possible changes to golf course operations influenced by the final campus plan," said Alexis Patterson Hanes, ACC spokesperson.
Austin Community College acquired the Riverside Golf Course property in an exchange deal in 1989. It paid 3.8 million in the swap which involved the developer of Davenport Ranch. It in turn, developed the Austin Country Club's current location for its members off highway 360, south of the Pennybacker Bridge.
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