A family fights to keep downtown Austin golf course


AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin staple and the only downtown golf course could be under new leadership, all because of a paperwork error.

Butler Park Pitch & Putt is a nine-hole course sitting on land that is owned and leased out by the city.

It’s the kind of place where tank tops, bare feet and four-legged companions are par for the course, which is just the way Lee Kinser likes it. 

“It’s more than a business to me, it’s family,” she said. 

The course has been in the Kinser family since its inception in 1948. A year prior Winston Kinser approached the city about leasing the land. At the time it was was a dumping ground for many of the people who lived nearby. 

With the city’s permission, Winston and his brother cleared off the trash and started installing holes one by one. 

Now 71 years later, it’s a thriving course with 35,000 golfers each year.

However, the course could soon change hands after a paperwork oversight.

Kinser accidentally failed to sign a page of her business proposal to the city, which is finally up for reconsideration after 15 years.

The next day the city’s purchasing office sent her a letter saying her proposal wouldn’t be considered. Then her appeal was denied.

When KXAN reached out to the city’s parks and recreation department we were told it can’t comment on requests for proposals.

Two other groups submitted business proposals, which were evaluated by the city.

Now some golfers are writing to city leaders asking them to reconsider the decision. They’re worried the course will lose what makes it unique.

“I can imagine people putting a bunch of money into it and changing it all up, having to charge more,” said golfer Chris Carpenter.

The Austin City Council has the final say on who will be the next operator. It’s expected to make that decision in June. 

“All I’m asking for is for my bid to be considered along with the other two,” said Kinser. “And to be graded fairly.”

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