AUSTIN, Texas — The longtime operators of the Butler Park Pitch & Putt are preparing to hand over the keys to the new managers Tuesday.
- Kinser family ends Pitch & Putt management
- Managed course for 71 years
- Threw a party on the last day
Many supporters of the par-3 golf course in South Austin, stopped by for one last round under the management of the Kinser family.
Steve Martin spent his lunch break, Monday, at the course. The longtime Austinite said he has been coming to the course since 2007.
“It was a place, I didn’t feel like I was judged or anything like that. Just come out here and give it a try, it was a lot of fun,” Martin said, “There’s not a lot of flash to this place, but it is, very homegrown.”
Other golfers on this last day had similar feelings. Weston Schmitt, 27, said the pitch and putt is quintessentially, “Austin.”
“I’ve been here almost 10 years, but this place has always been kind of home for me,” he said.
Back in June, the Austin City Council voted to turn over the lease to Pecan Grove Partners, after rejecting manager Lee Kinser’s bid because she missed a signature. Kinser’s family has been operating the golf course, which is on city-owned land, since 1948.
“I don’t think they really showed a lot of respect into what me and family have done to this piece of property, because when we took it over, it was on the outskirts of town. It was a dump. There wasn’t any of these trees here,” she said. “For 71 years, we’ve not only have grown a business that everybody loves, we’ve been good stewards to this land.”
Kinser said she plans on retiring and start volunteering. Monday, the family threw a party that included a barbecue and a golf tournament to celebrate the final day of the Kinser family’s management.
“It’ been a silver living in this whole thing how many people are complimentary and appreciative,” Kinser said. “It’s really nice to know so many people like your lifetime work.”
Kevin Gomillion, the golf division manager for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, said any major changes to the golf course under Pecan Grove Partners will have to go through a process with the city. Parks officials have to authorize those changes.
"The course will be open tomorrow and has no plans to close until a larger scale improvement to the golf course is approved. That is not likely to take place until next spring. The new operators will take over tomorrow and will continue operations as is,” Gomillion said in an email.
Martin said he hopes the new operators will consider maintaining most of what the Kinser family has developed.
“Hopefully they treat it with, you know, the same spirit and kindness,” Martin said.