Historic golf course hits the rough

By Liz Elan - bio | email

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Financial woes could force a cut to one community lifeline as Shreveport battles with a decision to close all but one of its public golf courses.

One golf patron, Bobby Brown, comes to the Jerry Tim Brooks golf course a few times a week to practice his swing. He can remember when this was the only place he was allowed to practice. "I couldn't play at any place, couldn't go anywhere, they turned us away," he said.

At that time, It was the Lakeside golf course, but it was renamed after a local golf legend who paved the way for African American golfers.

"He was a terrific golfer, he really put golf on the map for minorities," said patron Stuart Collins.

But the landmark course could make a turn for the worse as Shreveport council members battle to prioritize the budget.

"We can't continue to loose a million dollars on golf courses when we need water lines to be fixed," said councilman Joe Shyne.

Tim Brooks and the city's other public golf course, Huntington, have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars just in the past year, and a struggling economy could force the city to place necessity over history. "You need to make a choice. Do you want your grass cut or keep the golf course open," said Shyne. "We are going to have to shut them down."

For a community that has come so far, it's not welcome news. "Now they are talking about closing it. It's kind of like a slap in the face," said Collins.

"It's not just the past creating controversy, but our future. A golf program for kids called First Tee could hit the rough if Jerry Tim Brooks closes. "It's a perfect outlet for keeping kids of the street," said Brown who also heads the program.

"I like the good sportsmanship and helping people out," said one First Tee youth, Calvin Williams. The program is even getting youth excited about the future. "I want to play this in high school and college, but i'm not sure if i want to be a professional, said another youngen, Ellen Jones.

As city council chips away at the budget, kids in First tee and the Jerry Tim Brooks community hope their beloved course comes out swinging.

Querbes golf course is the only city golf course making a profit and will remain open. Council members are expected to amend the budget and make a decision about Jerry Tim Brooks and Huntington in the coming weeks.