The scent of cool grass, the feel of leather worn smooth on your glove, the cluttered clang of irons in your bag, and the sharp crack of club against ball are a few sensory touchstones any golfer can bring to mind.
It’s a unique game, whether played as a competitive sport or just a relaxing weekend getaway with a friend or two. Its escapist nature is owed in large part to its field of play: a vast greenspace, well kept and as much a product of nature as it is of manmade precision. No baseball diamond or soccer pitch can emulate the golf course’s sense of scale or relative privacy. It is exactly these traits that make golf courses such prized possessions, for towns, cities or universities like ours. However, the cost is obvious.
Land and more land — that is what’s required to shape a fine golf course. Land is needed not just for the fairways, but also for the clubhouse, driving range, short-game practice greens, and landscaping between holes. Often it's simply a case of the more land the better, with long courses snaking over waterways, between neighborhoods, and across thousands of yards. Our own golf course on the Northeast corner of campus spreads across almost 170 acres. It may be hard to picture just how massive that area is relative to our campus, so consider this. The A&M Golf Course encompasses an area larger than Kyle Field, the MSC, Academic Plaza, Simpson Drill Field, Koldus and Spence Park combined. In that sample space lies so much of the university’s history, prestige, and iconography. As we grow larger than ever before, our future will be shaped by our resources and commitment to academic progress. With this in mind, and with a firm fondness for golf in my heart, I ask you to consider the necessity, or lack thereof, of the campus golf course.
As we’ve grown into one of the largest global research institutions in the world, we’ve built scientific marvels across our campus, from nuclear reactors to deep ocean core vaults. Pristine new buildings dedicated to research and education such as Zachry and AGLS provide students with modern facilities to experiment and learn in. On-campus housing clears away outdated dorms and opens brand new ones, on both main and west campus. This growth isn’t going to stop any time soon, nor do we want it to. When considering what other uses we would find for the golf course’s acreage, we do not need to fully know just yet. However, it’s important to understand that we can only expand so much further into West Campus, and with each westward expansion, managing traffic and on-campus travel becomes more difficult. Utilizing this vast space on main campus, bounded directly by George Bush Drive and Texas Avenue, would be far more efficient in the long run. An undergraduate population of our size would benefit from more on-campus housing. New dorms would enhance livability of main campus, allowing students to build communities here rather than heading to far-off campus to private housing communities. There are already plans for a second rec center in that area to better serve the students living in The Commons and The Quad. A new rec center, combined with more housing, dining, and comfortable greenspace, would fit perfectly into the future growth of A&M.
Now let’s not continue without acknowledging the roles and accomplishments of the Texas A&M Men and Women’s Golf teams. Head Coaches Andrea Gaston and J.T. Higgins, along with Assistant Coaches Katerina Bruner and Brian Kortan, have been leading teams of Aggies all over the U.S. (and outside it as well), where they compete eminently well and grow the prestige of Texas A&M with each tournament. Taking a look at their records, I glanced at the player’s averages and sighed deeply, acknowledging that I have more chance of starting QB next year than earning scores like theirs anytime soon. Fortunately, giving up our campus golf course would not affect them too much, since they have long since moved their training to the brilliant course at Traditions Club. In fact the course at Traditions continually rises in rank as one of the finest courses in the state of Texas, and the property boasts a number of state-of-the-art training facilities for our teams.
It’s important and reassuring that we would not be abandoning our golf teams if we chose to redevelop this sprawling section of campus. In fact, we would be serving more students than ever before, more effectively than ever before. This vast space would not just be home to two or three primary uses, but many more than that. New, cutting-edge academic facilities, beautiful dorms, walking trails and expanded parking would all be expected and welcomed. However, it's what we can’t precisely plan for that will earn that region of campus its name. What monuments, traditions and stories will spring forth in time from that land? Knowing the passion of students here at A&M, I’m certain it will not take long.