The golf course at Bastrop State Park may have closed its fairways in February, but the park is looking to turn the site of the historic nine-hole public links into a showcase of the natural and cultural heritage of the “Lost Pines” area.
“Although the golfing chapter of the park’s history has regrettably come to an end,” said Carter Smith, Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “the community and TPWD are committed to continuing their close partnership as new recreation and conservation opportunities are explored for future generations of visitors to this iconic park. While we will miss the golf course and its longstanding significance to the State Park, we will not miss the chance to chart a bright, new future for these important park lands.”
The course was an original feature of the Civilian Conservation Corps design of Bastrop State Park and hosted golfers as early as 1936. For decades, the golf course was operated as a leased concession, but after struggling for years to remain viable, it was recently forced to close for financial reasons. This is the second time that TPWD has initiated a search for a new operator of the course, but both efforts to find a new manager and concessionaire did not yield a single response.
“While we are saddened that the course is permanently closed, we understand why this is necessary,” said Bastrop Mayor Ken Kesselus. “The city manager, council and I have worked diligently for several years to help keep it operational. In so doing, we discovered the many factors that led to the state’s inevitable decision. Our community has been intimately involved with Bastrop State Park since its inception, and our citizens look forward to the next chapter in our long relationship.”
In addition to sustaining the golf course, the park and community of Bastrop have endured landscape changing events, including record setting drought, a historically catastrophic wildfire, and extreme flood damage. These events have resulted in a strong and collaborative effort between the park and the community towards rebuilding, restoring and recovering all that was affected.
“The world of recreation is changing, and Bastrop State Park must change with it,” said County Judge Paul Pape. “It is my hope that this beautiful park property in the heart of Bastrop County will be even more accessible to all, encouraging families to enjoy nature in a meaningful way.”
Together with the support of community leaders, TPWD will be initiating a process to gain public feedback about how to best repurpose the golf course for other conservation and recreational uses consistent with the department’s mission and obligations for the designation of Bastrop State Park as a National Historic Landmark.
“We will use this as an opportunity to think and act creatively to meet the future recreational needs of our park visitors,” said Smith. “We look forward to an open and inclusive dialogue with local leaders, community members, and other stakeholders to devise a plan for this acreage that appropriately reflects the area’s unique heritage, values and setting.”