Z Boaz's future worries golfers

FORT WORTH -- Almost every Monday, 81-year-old Jack Deegan heads to Z Boaz Golf Course for his weekly round.

Deegan's rounds there aren't just about golf. He commiserates with his buddies, many of whom he knows only by their first name, and gets exercise by walking rather than using a cart.

"It's a friendly place; a lot of people know each other. I really enjoy going out there," said Deegan, a retired Texas Wesleyan University marketing professor.

But Deegan and other golfers are worried that the days of playing the public golf course, which opened in 1930, may soon end.

In December, the city Parks and Community Services Advisory Board recommended closing Z Boaz and turning it into a community park.

If it becomes a park, Z Boaz, between Interstate 30 and Camp Bowie West Boulevard, could offer walking trails, picnic areas, athletic fields and possibly a dog park.

The city is holding a meeting at 6:30 tonight at the R.D. Evans Community Center, 3242 Lackland Road, to discuss the golf course's future.

"The main goal is to get public input," said Richard Zavala, director of parks and community services, who added that city staffers will outline the staff's recommendation for closing the course. The City Council is scheduled for a briefing at its March 6 meeting, but no date has been set for a council vote.

At its December meeting, the park board also recommended placing the city's other money-losing course, Sycamore Creek, into the general fund even though the nine-hole course lost more money than Z Boaz. City officials have said keeping Sycamore open is a key to the economic revitalization of that area of southeast Fort Worth.

Mayor Pro Tem W.B. "Zim" Zimmerman, whose district includes Z Boaz, said most responses he has heard favor converting the golf course to a park, though he has heard from golfers who oppose that.

Because the course has not been self-sustaining as an enterprise fund, Zimmerman said, it "is catering to a real small part of the taxpayer base."

A city analysis found that the market is oversaturated with golf courses, especially on the west side. The report also predicted that some golfers would use other city-owned courses if Z Boaz closed and that others would move to courses outside the city.

Under the staff plan, the other three municipal courses -- Pecan Valley, Rockwood and Meadowbrook - are expected to pay for themselves in the enterprise fund. Rockwood operated with a small deficit last year but is expected to change with improvements there.

Zimmerman said he hasn't made up his mind on the golf course's fate but said the argument for a park is compelling.

"I'm leaning that way," Zimmerman said.

Golfers like Deegan and Wendy Helm, a member of the city's golf course advisory committee, believe that the city isn't considering Z Boaz's value as a golf course.

Helm, who led a petition drive last year to save Z Boaz, said it would draw more golfers if the city invested in it as it has with other golf courses, and he said it is an asset to the west side.

"Once you lose something like a golf course, you really can't get it back," Helm said.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

Twitter: @fwhanna

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