“John, I’ve got some bad news.”
Dan Jenkins, waiting for his ride outside the Savannah Rapids Pavilion, couldn’t have looked more troubled. Which was surprising, since he had just been honored for being honored at the Golf Writers Association of America’s annual dinner.
The world’s greatest golf writer cut to the chase: “They’re closing Z Boaz.”
Witnesses say that I made some gaspy, guttural sounds and began swaying like a pine in a stout breeze. My Top 50 aide-de-camp clutched my elbow and offered to send someone for a ginger ale.
“No,” I said, regaining my composure. “But I’d like some grapes.”
My flunky hustled inside, leaving me to get the whole story from Dan. The Fort Worth City Council, he told me, had voted by a margin of 6-to-1 to close the scenic and 11,237th-ranked Z Boaz Golf Course in September and replace it with a 138-acre community park. “I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings,” Dan said, “but I know how you feel about Z Boaz.”
A month has passed, and I’m still reeling from the news. Z Boaz featured prominently in my 1994 almost-best-seller, America’s Worst Golf Courses: A Collection of Courses Not Up to Par. While not the worst course I’ve ever seen — that distinction still belongs to Florida’s Ft. Meade City Mobile Home Park Golf Course — Z Boaz is undoubtedly the worst course I’ve played multiple times to increasing levels of satisfaction and fondness. Z Boaz was the venue for the annual Dan Jenkins Partnership & Goat Hills Glory Game Reprise, a two-man scramble tournament for sandbaggers, golf writers, aging celebrities and down-on-their-luck PGA Tour pros from across the country.
“It’s all about the money,” Dan told me at the Masters. “Z Boaz is supposed to generate enough revenue to pay for itself, but usage has decreased from 46,873 golfers in 2000 to 21,844 in 2010. They say Z Boaz lost $234,000 last year.”*
*This may not be an actual quote by Dan, unless he was reading to me from an April 3 article by Bill Hanna in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
I’ve done a little research of my own since then, and I’ve found evidence that Z Boaz’s demise is being promoted by well-funded lobbyists for the dog-park and mountain-bike-trail movements. (See the Star-Telegram’s coverage of a public hearing, which states, “Other speakers advocated for a dog park at Z Boaz and the possible addition of mountain bike trails.”) Some park proponents have poisoned the debate by characterizing Z Boaz golfers as “profanity-spouting layabouts with coarse habits, showing minimal regard for taxpayer dollars” — as if that justifies shuttering an operation that has served its community for more than 80 years.
Am I going to take this lying down? Probably. I’ve reached the age where a thrice-daily nap is critical if I’m to operate at peak efficiency.
But I will not take this standing up! I hereby announce that John Garrity’s Top 50 Blog will join Hall of Fame golfer Kathy Whitworth and the ghosts of Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan in pleading for Z Boaz’s life. It’s not too late, Fort Worth City Council! It’s not too late!
(Tomorrow, I’ll reprint the Z Boaz chapter from America’s Worst Golf Courses. In the meantime, I invite my billionaire readers to consider a generous donation to the Save Z Boaz Foundation, if there is such a thing.)
Top 50 on TV: The PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship is being played at 32nd-ranked Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. The practice range at Quail Hollow ranks in every pro’s Top 5, as you’ll discover when you read my SI Golf Plus article from 2006, “7 Days on the Range.”