Richard Greene

Really great match: Arlington, Texas Rangers both win on this golf course

Arlington’s Ditto Golf Course undergoing massive renovation

Ditto Golf Course in Arlington is being carved and shaped in to a brand new course, the city intending for it to be a top five course in the Metroplex.
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Ditto Golf Course in Arlington is being carved and shaped in to a brand new course, the city intending for it to be a top five course in the Metroplex.

A recent letter to the editor of this newspaper expressed concern about being “pushed out” of the new Texas Rangers Golf Club.

Since that’s not actually happening, some clarification is in order for how the city’s residents became the big winner in achieving the results of an arrangement that produced the only Major League Baseball-branded golf course in the country.

It all began when Arlington voters authorized the redevelopment of the aging Chester Ditto Golf Course that first opened for play in 1982. When plans for its renovation were announced two years ago, a Star-Telegram story described it as “a rugged stretch of Martian terrain.”

Next came an opportunity that arose out of the city’s 46-year partnership with the Texas Rangers Baseball Club that authorized the use of the team’s name to raise the course’s identity to national prominence.

Among the recent letter writer’s qualms was that the Rangers would own or operate the course, or maybe both. Neither of those worries are a reality, as the city continues to own and manage the course through its Parks Department.

What then, you may ask, did the Rangers charge for that privilege? Intellectual capital is a valuable commodity, and strong brands don’t often allow others to incorporate them without some amount of monetary compensation.

As a result of the bond between the city and the baseball club, the cost was zero. That’s right – not one dime.

OK, so the next question could logically be what was the revenue sharing arrangement? Again, the answer was that the city would retain all the income from the operation of the new golf course.

There was a bartering aspect of the agreement where the city would receive tickets to Rangers games for the team’s use of the course. It would be a value-for-value exchange, and the city would then be able to provide game tickets for youngsters and others who could not afford them.

The complaint also addressed concerns that the price to play on the new course would be higher, perhaps unaffordable to residents who were used to being charged $45 for a round on the old course.

Actually, the city has worked out rates that include a variety of discounts that result in costs comparable to the previous Ditto fees.

The Parks Department website explains, “Residents of Arlington receive a 20 percent discount on all posted daily rates, while both resident and non-resident golfers age 62 and older receive further discounts off most posted rates. Deeper discounts are available for frequent Player Program subscribers.”

It goes on to explain that residents will be able to play for as little as $36 on Monday-Thursday, $39 on Fridays and $42 on weekends during twilight play.

Even the $99 cost of joining the Frequent Player Program is recovered by playing only a total of three rounds of golf in a calendar year.

If none of those benefits work out for golfers, there are three other courses operated by the city at Tierra Verde, Lake Arlington and Meadowbrook, all accessed with the full benefits of the Frequent Player Program, lower fees and lots of options.

The new course is already being considered by PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan for the Tour for developing professional golfers coming to Arlington.

Star-Telegram sports writer Drew Davison quoted Monahan in a story last week responding to a question about the new course, “When you have an opportunity to do something with a great brand like the Texas Rangers. … if the opportunity presents itself, I’m quite certain we would take a really hard look at it and see if we could make it happen.”

It sounds to me like this is a classic win-win outcome resulting in a significant boost for the city’s growing tourism industry and local golfers alike.

Chalk up another reason to celebrate Arlington’s privilege of hosting Major League Baseball.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor, served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency and lectures at UT Arlington.