I know how Joni Mitchell feels. The courses of my youth weren’t paradise, but they’ve paved my par 3’s and put up a parking lot.
I spent many pleasant hours in the 1960s at the Carl Garrett Golf Center at Witte Road and what used to be called the Katy Highway. I learned to putt, chip, and hit short irons on that par 3 course and once threw a slippery-gripped 6 iron deep into the driving range when it slid out of my hands on a hot, humid, Houston day. The fees were so cheap that I often spent more on peanut butter crackers and Cokes than I did on green fees.
That old par 3 and driving range are gone, replaced by a shopping center. A JoAnn Fabrics sits where the 1st green was and an Academy Sporting Goods fills the old driving range and 9th hole. The turn off from the Katy Highway onto Witte I used to make would not only be highly illegal, it would be a fatal maneuver on today’s Interstate 10.
As a grad student at Texas Tech I spent many late afternoons and evenings at the Treasure Island Golf Course on 4th Street. The course was lit for night play, so Loretta and I often played with another couple on summer evenings before having a late dinner. I made my only ace on that course, sadly unseen by anyone else. Treasure Island is now a shopping center. A Wendy’s sits where the 1st green was and a WalMart Super Center sits on the driving range.
Treasure Island had some low areas that were seasonal ponds, and those low areas are now retention zones for runoff from the parking lots. The hole where I made my ace was in the low area and the vague outlines of the hole are still there if you know where to look and have a good imagination.
So what’s a golfer to do when his old par 3s are gone? Joni Mitchell might be able to make a hit song out of it, but I don’t see her as an avid golfer and I’d much rather play golf than try to sell her on the idea. It’s much more fun to create a new par 3 course course and play a tournament with a group of good friends that likely have their own memories of parking lots and disappearing courses.
That’s what we did at the Flying L Par 3 tournament. The holes on the front 9 were modified to par 3’s, with some as traditional holes and others “creatively” designed for maximum fun. Gill Davidson, Larry Cramer, and Larry Henson proved they knew how to enjoy a day on the golf course by winning their flights.