What is Save Muny? Iconic Lions Municipal Golf Course fights to make the sport affordable
AUSTIN, TEXAS: Golf is mostly regarded as a sport for rich and elite people. But there is one golf course in Austin, Texas, with a vital history in the American South that defies the general notion, and gives equal importance to the less privileged. The name of that golf course is Lions Municipal Golf Course, nicknamed Muny, which occupies over 140 acres of Austin land, and “is recognized by the National Parks Department as the first desegregated golf course south of the Mason-Dixon Line, breaking down the racial barrier in 1950.”
As per reports, the 18-hole course sits on the Greater Brackenridge Tract and opened in 1924. Though the land of the course is owned by the University of Texas (UT), the City of Austin has leased it since 1936. However, since the leasing agreement has reportedly expired, the city and the university are still to reach a new agreement.
What is Save Muny?
Save Muny is a nonprofit organization that “has been raising public awareness on the grassroots level since 1973. Now, as UT seeks a permanent use for the 141 acres, The Muny Conservancy is working to raise the necessary funds to purchase and renovate Lions Municipal once and for all,” as per its Facebook page.
World Golf Hall of Famer Ben Crenshaw, who is the co-chair of the Muny Conservancy, has also been involved in the issue. He told Presser, “I grew up three blocks from Lions and split time playing there and at Austin Country Club from age 8 through my college years at Texas. I still play there occasionally to this day and enjoy going by to watch the kids learning golf at the Austin Junior Golf Academy or the high school teams that call Muny their home.”
Crenshaw claimed that he loves UT but also expressed his dissatisfaction over the fact that the matter has not reached any conclusion. He added: “We understand that [the University of Texas] owns the property and that it’s a very valuable piece of land. But, the course is a civil rights landmark. It cannot become strictly a monetary consideration. This is a tremendous opportunity for the U of T to step up in the community.”
Meanwhile, earlier in February, the Facebook page of Save Muny shared a post in honor of Black History Month. The post read, “The Muny Conservancy proudly celebrates and honors Black History Month. As the first public course in the south to racially desegregate, Lions Municipal Golf Course is listed in the National Register of Historic Places,” before adding: “Through February, we’ll be highlighting our unique history and key members of the Muny Conservancy family, who strive for equity on and off the course and embody our passion for preserving this historic landmark.”
The post attracted a few comments with a person writing, “This truly is a significant moment in American history. I’ve never played the course, but my son Tyler does. His wedding rehearsal dinner was held there, and subsequently I was able to visit a place where racial division started to mend.” Another person said, “Long live Muny!”
While a user suggested, “To the Save Muny organization. Appeal to your Representatives and Senators, to have Muny designated as a National Historic site. Based upon the evidence provided, you could easily get the support of the NAACP. Any body that would challenge that, would come under public scrutiny. Politicians would have to support the preservation of the course, or they would have to answer to the voting public. And, those who opposed would quickly become recognized as being on the wrong side of history.”