There are lots of wonderful things in Waco, and one of the best examples is Cottonwood Creek Junior Golf Course. This is a textbook example of how one person can make a difference and muster the support needed to get a golf facility built.

Project name: Cottonwood Creek Junior Golf Course
Location: Waco, Texas
Description: 9-hole, Par 3
Maintenance Budget: $35,000
Construction Budget: $90,000
Jim Moore, a former golf course superintendent and now a USGA agronomist, decided that although Waco had a solid junior golf program, the community needed more. So Jim helped form a committee at the existing full-size, 18-hole Cottonwood Creek Golf Course to see if they could add a junior course to the facility. The committee got the City of Waco to commit 10 acres of vacant land near the clubhouse, convinced an ASGCA golf course architect to do a plan, and then set about getting whatever it took to get the plan built.

cottonwood-creek-2The total amount of money raised from grant and gifts was $90,000, and then they set their sights on getting folks to donate equipment, materials, or give deep discounts on purchases. For instance, the local John Deere Company loaned the project a small bulldozer, irrigation companies donated outdated but serviceable equipment, a local NationsRent gave a 50% discount, and the City of Waco loaned a rubber tired loader to the project.

Jim, his three sons Travis, Andrew, and Patrick, ages 17, 15, and 10, respectively, plus three other laborers, did most of the physical work. They completed the project in five months, including the sodding, and the project opened Oct. 19, 2001. The course is designed so only one additional laborer is added to the existing maintenance staff at Cottonwood Creek, thus keeping the added maintenance cost down to about $35,000 per year.

cottonwood-creek-3Waco already had the fourth largest junior golf tournament in the nation, the Starburst Junior Golf Tournament, which attracts 750 junior golfers to the four Waco courses. The Cottonwood Creek Junior Course will allow the tournament to grow even more, for now even four-year-olds and up can compete in a mini-event. The Cottonwood Creek junior program has had 150–200 children enrolled each year, at a cost of $15 per child, which provides eight group lessons, clubs golf balls, lunch, and a T-shirt. The program is run by the golf course staff with volunteer instructors coming from the senior league, students, high school coaches and teachers, and interested golfers and parents. The cost to play the full-size Cottonwood regular course is $11 for juniors, and play of members with children has doubled in recent years.

Editor’s note: The above practical golf case study is an excerpt from “Building a Practical Golf Facility – A Step-by-step Guide to Realizing a Dream” published by the American Society of Golf Course Architects in 2005 and written by Dr. Michael J. Hurdzan, ASGCA.