Muny cannot continue to highlight an
important side of the American story
unless we take action to preserve it as
a resource for its community.
Stephanie Meeks, National Trust for Historic Preservation
Alfred Tup Holmes in his early 20s.
(Holmes Family Archive)
s the first public course in
the South to racially desegregate, Lions
Municipal Golf Course is listed in the
National Register of Historic Places. It’s a
big title, but the story was simple. In late
1950 – following the Supreme Court’s
decision in Sweatt v. Painter but well
before Brown v Board of Education – two
black youths walked onto the course and
began playing.
Still in the throes of the Jim Crow era,
there were not yet any integrated public
golf courses in the south. The Muny staff
working that day called City Hall to seek
advice on how to handle the trespassing
youth. After a quick discussion with
council members, Mayor Taylor Glass
said, Let them play.
This simple act – allowing a couple of
kids to finish their round – is how Muny
earned the title of the first desegregated
municipal Southern golf course. Soon
after, and with the formal recognition of
the Austin City Council in early 1951, Lions
Municipal Golf Course was open to all
who came to play. Unlike other southern
courses that would follow – years later –
Muny’s desegregation came peacefully,
without protest or court order.
The information contained in this book has been assembled to
provide an easy historical reference to many of the events leading
up-to-and following the desegregation of Lions Municipal Golf
Course in 1950, and contains the material provided to the National
Parks Service as part of the application for inclusion on their National
Register of Historic Places which was approved in 2016.
The reasons for saving Muny are many---the preservation of the
historic 97-year-old golf course, saving a 141-acre green space that is
also a wildlife sanctuary sitting on a water recharge zone with hundreds
of heritage oak and pecan trees, and most important, celebrating
the Civil Rights history that took place on the property.
Lions Municipal is the busiest golf course in Austin, with nearly
60,000 rounds of golf played annually. It is the practice course for
numerous high school golf teams, the site of UIL championships
and the home of the Austin Junior Golf Academy. Muny provides
affordable golf for people of all backgrounds, and for all ages and
ability of golfers. We thank you for your attention to the history that
makes it critical that we Save Muny. For Good.
Preserving and Promoting Lions Municipal Golf Course
Historic, Inclusive, Aordable
Best regards,
Ben Crenshaw
Co-chair Muny Conservancy
Scott Sayers
Co-chair Muny Conservancy
e Muny Conservancy
Ben Crenshaw,
Scotty Sayers,
Jerry Bell
Lori Beveridge
Noel Bridges
Ray Castillo
Ed Clements
Richard Craig
Matt Davis
Sgt. Tim Gaestel
Angela Garcia
Mike Haggarty
Bob Kay
Albert Koehler
Bill Miller
Volma Overton
Holly Reed
Nav Sooch
Steve Wiener
Mark Williams
Greg Wooldridge
Table of Contents
Introduction from
Ben Crenshaw
Why a golf course matters
so much to Austin
Golf for the People
How Muny Became a
Home for Everyday Golfers
Let Them Play
How Civil Disobedience
Changed a Courses History
A Course of History
Why Muny Earned a Place
on the National Register of
Historic Places
Recognizable Significance
Notable Support for Historical
Preservation at Muny
Be It Proclaimed
Resolutions Passed to
Help Save Muny
Muny in the News
Stories From the Fight
to Save Muny
Legislative Movement
Texas 85th Legislative
Sessions Senate Bill 822
How We Keep Playing
A Plan for the future of Lions
Municipal Golf Course
An ask to those who
want to save Muny
Civil Rights Landmark
Research based on archival records and oral histories
has revealed that, in 1950, two black youths played a
round of golf at the course, four years before the racial
integration of schools and other public facilities was
ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of
Education. Lions Municipal is recognized by historians
as the first municipal course in the South to voluntarily
This unique history has garnered national attention
for the course, known locally as “Muny”. In 2009, the
Texas State Historical Commission approved a marker
for the course, in recognition of its groundbreaking
desegregation. In 2016, the National Park Service
added Muny to the National Register of Historic
Places and the National Trust for Historic Preservation
identified the course as one of “America’s Eleven Most
Endangered Historic Places.
Rich Sports History
Around 60,000 rounds are played each
year at Lions Municipal. World Golf Hall
of Famers Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite
grew up playing the course. Crenshaw
purchased the putter he used to win the
1984 Masters Tournament from the Lions
gi shop. In 1950, Ben Hogan famously
began his comeback to the game in an
exhibition match with World Golf Hall of
Famer Harvey Penick against UT golfers
Morris Williams and Ed Hopkins. Former
World Heavyweight boxing champion
Joe Louis—an avid golf enthusiast
visited the course twice in the early
1950s aer hearing about its integration,
shooting near par in 1953.
Why a golf course matters
so much to Austin
Course Construction, 1920s
Endangered Urban Open Space
Lions Municipal Golf course sits on 141
acres in the heart of Austin. Open spaces
benefit the public because they support
the health of the local environment,
increase the value of surrounding land,
and overall enhance quality of life for the
community. Once an urban area loses a
green space, it is gone forever.
The Greater Austin Chamber of
Commerce commissioned a study
comparing Austin to cities deemed as
competitors for new business. The report
concluded that Austin was “behind”
Phoenix, Denver, Seattle, and Raleigh/
Durham in access to open spaces.
About Lions Municipal Golf Course
Lions Municipal Golf Course was built in 1924 at
a time when the only other course in Austin was
a country club. The land was originally owned by
Colonel George Washington Brackenridge who
gied the land to the school in 1910. Brackenridge
was a UT regent for 25 years, until 1911, and later
for two more years, until 1919, a year before he
died, making him the longest-serving regent in
school history. UT has leased the land to the city
since 1936 but announced in 2011 that the lease
would not be renewed aer it expired in May 2019.
Since then, the course has been on a five-month
rolling lease, as negotiations continue between the
City of Austin, The University of Texas, The Muny
Conservancy and the Save Historic Muny District.
Newly-formed Save Muny citizen group, 1973
Ben Crenshaw at Muny, 1973
Lions Municipal Golf Course was established
in 1924 by Austin Lions Club members with a
vision for a modern, inclusive municipal golf
course. The first public course in Austin, it was
constructed on a leased portion of wooded,
fairly level, riparian land—a 503-acre parcel
given to the University of Texas in 1910 by one
of its benefactors, George W. Brackenridge.
The golf course was designed by Austin Lions
Club member B.F. Rowe, who also supervised
construction. A brick clubhouse designed by
local architect Edwin Kreisle was added in 1930.
The Lions Club operated the golf course until
donating it to the City of Austin in 1936. In 1936
eminent golf course architect Albert Tillinghast
contributed to the course enhancements,
redesigning several holes.In 1926, Lions Club
member John H. Tobin described the grounds:
“Raising your eyes you behold the beautiful
scenery which is an inspiration to the
player”. The eighteen-hole course offers
scenic views of surrounding hills. Today,
Lions Municipal remains an urban green
space. The grounds evoke a park-like
setting enjoyed by walkers and golfers alike.
(National Register of Historic Places)
It is proposed to have a
modern up-to-date golf
course where all citizens
of Austin interested in
golng can play
- Austin Lions Club
Golf for the People - How Muny Became
a Home for Everyday Golfers
World Golf Hall of Famer Ben Hogan
played with Harvey Penick (against Ed
Hopkins and Morris Williams Jr.) in an
exhibition match at Muny in 1950. During
the match, it is said that Hogan stood on
the seventh tee box and asked “Wheres
the fairway?”. He went on to birdie this
now-famous Par 4. Aer the match, Hogan
apparently commented that the course
was “so good, it makes you think youre not
in Texas.” One month later he would win
the U.S. Open at Merion, his fourth major
The fairway at “Hogan’s Hole, No. 16.
One of the nest
courses in this part
of the country
- Byron Nelson, 1948
George Washington Brackenridge never attended
the University of Texas, but he is one of the most
important figures in the school’s history and, even in
death, a central figure in the “Save Muny” campaign,
which dates to the early 1970s.
Brackenridge settled in San Antonio aer the Civil War
and made his fortune in banking and infrastructure
investing. He was a UT regent for 25 years, until 1911,
and later for two more years, until 1919, a year before
he died, making him the longest-serving regent in
school history. He donated freely to various causes,
but especially to support education. At one point,
shortly before his death, he offered to underwrite UT
when the governor vetoed a funding bill.
Brackenridge provided funding to support women
interested in studying medicine, architecture and
the law, established a school for Mexican-American
children in San Antonio, and donated 216 acres and
financial support to Guadalupe College, a school for
blacks in Seguin, Texas. He also donated land in San
Antonio that became a golf course, and of course,
deeded the 500-acre Brackenridge Tract to UT in
In 1924, the Lions Club leased land from UT to build
Lions Municipal on the Brackenridge Tract. It was
the city’s first public course, opening as a nine-holer,
then growing to 18 holes.
The Lions Club transferred the lease to the city in
1936, and for many years it also served as UT’s home
Brackenridge was pro-Union in a Confederate state,
and his sympathies forced him to flee Texas during
the Civil War. When he returned, he garnered
respect with his unusually generous philanthropy.
Ken Tiemann, a “Save Muny” leader, argues that
Brackenridges extensive donations to minorities and
women le a telling legacy – that “hed recognize the
value of a civil-rights site and what that could mean
to the University of Texas.
About George Washington
George Washington Brackenridge
Lions Municipal Golf Course
Brackenridge Park Golf Course
in San Antonio, Texas
The desegregation of Lions Municipal Golf Course
preceded many other milestones in the history of
civil rights in America. Shortly aer Sweatt v. Painter
desegregated the University of Texas Law School in
1950, Muny became the first municipal golf course in the
southern United States to desegregate. Archival records
and oral histories have identified this as among the first
instances of racial integration of public accommodations
non-violently and without court order in the states of the
old Confederacy. In late 1950, two black youths played
a round of golf at the course. Alvin Propps (1941 – 2010),
was only nine years old when he unknowingly became
part of civil rights history.
Propps, a nine-year-old caddie at Muny, and another
black youth, were detained in late 1950 for playing the
course in defiance of Jim Crow laws. Taylor Glass, the
Mayor of Austin at that time, quickly conferred with
members of the city council, and a decision was made
not to prosecute Propps or his companion. According
to interviews with former caddies, the course regularly
attracted black golfers from the region and across Texas.
Later, in 1951, Austin desegregated its public library, and
a fire station on Lydia Street in Austin was integrated
in 1952. Notably, all of this occurred well before the
groundbreaking 1954 decision by the U.S. Supreme
Court in Brown v. Board of Education, which mandated
that schools and other public facilities be racially
(Source: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)
In 1951, prompted by a suggestion to construct an East
Austin course for black golfers, Councilwoman Emma
Long recommended that they be permitted to play
on all municipal courses, effectively ratifying Muny’s
desegregation. Other jurisdictions including Miami,
Houston, Beaumont, Atlanta and Nashville routinely
fought desegregation of public accommodations even
aer Brown, further evidence that Austins dearth of legal
battles against integration was unusual.
Let em Play - How Civil Disobedience
Changed a Courses History
Heman Sweatt, registering
for courses at the University
of Texas law school, Austin,
1950. Sweatt won admission
to the University of Texas
law school as a result of
Sweatt v. Painter, United
States Supreme Court.
Councilwoman Emma Long
1974 Taylor Glass Interview
“I remember one day I got a call from
City Hall wanting to know-there were
two colored boys playing golf on the golf
course. This was before there was any
mixing of races in restaurants, schools, or
anywhere was going on. So I said, “Well, I’ll
be right up there.
I called Bill Drake before I le my office,
didn’t tell him what it was ‘till I got up
there. He said, “Well, what is it?” I said,
“Well… that old golf course is pretty big
open space out there and I don’t see
why it ought to bother anybody out there
and I’m for leaving them alone and not
Interview by Joe O’Neal, May 23,
1973, Austin History Center
even calling the newspaper and see what
happens.” And he said, “I’m with you.
I had to call one other member of the
council to see that we had a majority and I
called Mr. Johnson. I knew Mr. Johnson was
just like us and we told him how we felt. He
said, “It’s the wisest thing you have ever
done. Don’t call that press either.
So we went on and let them
play and never heard a word.
Lions Municipal Golf Course, 1939
One day in late 1950 or early 1951,
William Bacon finished caddying at
Lions Municipal Golf Course, collected
his fee – 85 cents for 18 holes back
then – and started walking to his home
in Clarksville, a black enclave near the
Bacon took a shortcut through the
woods by the 18th hole and noticed
something unusual: two young black
boys – a caddie named Alvin Propps,
and the other whose name
has been lost to history –
were hitting their tee shots
on 18. At the segregated
course, that was a sight
never before seen during
regular playing hours.
Bacon, a doctor now retired
and living in Florida, recalled
a friend saying “that Roy
Kizer was going to catch
it.” Kizer was the Lions
superintendent from 1937 to
1973, living in a small house
on property; a city course
since has been named in his
Bacon, then only 10 or 11 years old, was
too young to appreciate the magnitude
of that day’s events. Sometimes on rainy
days when play was light or on nights
when the moon was bright, some of the
young black children from Clarksville
would slip across Exposition Boulevard
to play a few holes.
So when Bacon saw Propps playing in
broad daylight, “We didn’t think it was
that big a deal.
That round by Propps, then only 9 years
old, was a big deal then, and it’s still a
big deal 65 years later. In defying Lions
ban on blacks, Propps brought about
the voluntary desegregation of the
course, with the acquiescence of Mayor
Taylor Glass and other city officials.
General Marshall, Bacons fellow
caddie and lifelong friend, recalls that it
was a white city council member, Emma
Long, who said, “Just let them play.
And so they did. Lions Municipal is
believed to be the first municipal course
in the South to voluntarily desegregate,
coming four years before the U.S.
Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v.
Board of Education.
Propps played at Lions less than a year
aer a U.S. Supreme Court decision
that rocked Austin and UT. In Sweatt
v. Painter, a UT law-school applicant
successfully challenged the separate-
but-equal doctrine of segregation
established by the court in 1896.
Black golfers were accepted at Lions
Municipal, but with reservations.
A small, block clubhouse was built
for black players, but Marshall said
African-Americans had too much
pride to use it.
News of Muny’s integration spread
quickly. Marshall recalled
the black doctors, lawyers
and teachers, some coming
from as far away as San
Antonio or Houston,
arriving at Muny “in their
big cars and (with) their big
golf bags,” dressed to the
“To me it was such a sense
of racial pride to see these
guys drive up and be able
to play golf,” said Marshall,
who has been involved in
the “Save Muny” campaign
since the early 1970s.
Marshall, 80, who still shoots in the
70s, believes Muny’s significance
extended far beyond golf, serving as a
catalyst to integrate swimming pools,
libraries and other public facilities in
ere was this one course
that opened its doors, he said,
and it led other facilities to
open in the city.
Excerpts from “Fight for History” by Martin Kaufmann / Golfweek, April, 2016
Backers of Lions Municipal believe the ‘Muny’ is worth saving
A Course of History - Why Muny Earned
a Place on the National Register
To me it was
such a sense
of racial
pride to see
these guys
drive up and
be able to
play golf,
General Marshall
Photo by Darren Carroll
People talk about the worth of this
course; it’s incalculable. Not only in its
acres, but what it has meant to people
and what it can mean in the future.
Ben Crenshaw
Alvin Propps
Across the South aer the Supreme Court’s
decision in Brown v. Board of Education,
it was school children who helped
desegregate the nations public schools.
Similarly, it was local school children,
including 9 year old Alvin Propps, who
desegregated Muny. The difference
was that desegregation in the South was
massively resisted and for the most part
waited till well aer the Brown decision
in 1954. Muny’s desegregation took
place in late 1950 and early 1951 when
Mayor Taylor Glass aer conferring
with other members of the City
Council voluntarily, and without
court order, determined
that Propps would not
be prosecuted for playing
Muny in deance of Jim
Crow laws. Mayor Glasss decision
followed the Supreme Court’s decision
in Sweat v. Painter that desegregated
the University of Texas Law School
and substantially weakened Jim Crow.
This in turn paved the way for Brown
almost four years later. Shortly aer
desegregating Muny the Austin Public
Library and a fire station in East Austin
were desegregated years before Brown
was decided. It was the defiance and
courage of a nine year old named
Alvin Propps, coupled with the tolerance
of public officials in response to that
courage, that brought progressive
change on matters of race in Austin
in the early 1950s well before other
communities throughout the South.
Alvin Propps went on to become one
of the most prominent young African
American golfers in Texas.
Legendary heavyweight boxing champion Joe
Louis was one of the most influential amateur
golfers in American history.
Shortly after Muny was desegregated,
heavyweight boxing legend Joe Louis, who
publicly opposed Jim Crow laws and became
an ambassador to the game of golf and fierce
crusader for the rights of African-American
golfers, played the course in 1951 and again in
July of 1953, shooting near par in 1953.
Louis became the first person of color to
compete in a PGA-sanctioned event in
1952. The New York Times reported on Jan.
16, 1952, that Louis said that he
would continue his fight “to
eliminate racial prejudice
from golf, the last sport in
which it now exists.
Color stills taken from footage shot by
Robert Pugh at Lions Municipal in 1953
Joe Louis
is is the last
major sport
in America in
which Negroes
are barred,
Louis told the
Los Angeles Sentinel.
As a course open to black golfers Muny became
a magnet for such golfers in both the Austin area
and the region. National figures played as well.
Both in 1951 and in late July of 1953, Joe Louis,
the former heavyweight champion, and national
icon for the symbolic blow he delivered against
German racism by knocking out Max Schmeling,
played Muny while in Austin. These rounds
played by Joe Louis at Muny are important for at
least two reasons. First, the course was available
for Joe Louis to play at a time when he would
have had extremely limited access to play on
any course in the South, let alone a municipal
course. Second, and perhaps most importantly,
it is hard to view Joe Louiss rounds at Muny
as anything other than a consecration of the
fact that the course was available to play for
blacks. Louis had fought hard to bring the game
of golf to African Americans in the post war
period. He did this not only by fighting for black
participation in professional golf tournaments
such as in San Diego (in which Louis played)
and Phoenix. He also used his celebrity to serve
as golf’s Ambassador to the African American
community. In doing so he would have tried in
the North to open up more access to play for
a small but expanding black middle class in
the post war era. And in the South he would
have fought for a poorer African American
population that may have had access only
through caddying. Dr. Bacon indicates that
Joe Louis played the course twice. He saw Joe
Louis play at Muny shortly aer the course
was desegregated and before he went to
college in September of 1952. Louis played
the course with Ted Rhodes, the great African
American professional golfer who tried to
break into the PGA and who taught Joe Louis
to play. Joe Delancey, who played on the “black
circuit” (United Golf Association sanctioned
events), also played with Louis and Rhodes. Dr.
Bacon believes this round was played in 1951.
Interview with Bacon by Ozer (October 30,
2015). This would mean that the round that
Louis played in 1953 was his second at Muny.
Joe Louis became something of a “black golf
ambassador” attracting black celebrities to the
game, increasing its visibility among blacks, and
fighting racially exclusionary practices by the
white golf establishment.
Excerpt taken from the National Register
of Historic Places nomination.
Right to Le: Joe Louis, Teddy Rhodes and Bill Spiller
Holmes v. Atlanta U.S. Supreme
Court decision prohibits restricting
days races can play municipal
May 17, 1954 Brown v. Board of
Education. U.S. Supreme Court
rules that state laws establishing
racial segregation in public
schools are unconstitutional.
May 24, 1954: Houston Integrates
Municipal Courses. The Supreme
Court denies review for Beal v.
Holcomb, forcing Houston to abide
by the District Court’s decision to
integrate their courses. Albeit by
force, this marks the second golf
course desegregation in the South.
Joe Louis filmed playing Muny on
a return visit, and shooting near
par, as reported locally by the
August 1952 Austin Fire
Department Integrates Fire
Station #5
June 5, 1950: Sweatt v. Painter; U.S.
Supreme Court rules that separate
facilities provided to Herman
Sweatt at the University of Texas
Law School did not provide him
education opportunities equal to
those of white students.
In Late 1950 Alvin Propps
Desegregates Muny Austin
Statesman article from 3/12/51
states African Americans have
been playing golf at Muny for
several months”.
This acceptance of African
American golfers would not
happen at another municipal
course in the South for several
April 1951 Austin City Council
Publicly Acknowledges Muny
Desegregation. Council minutes,
and newspaper coverage,
document Emma Longs objection
to a separate golf course for
Africian Americans. She states
they are already playing at Muny.
Boxing legend, Joe Louis, and
African-American golfing-great,
Teddy Rhodes, play Muny.
In December 1951, Austin
Desegregates Libraries, specifically
the Main Library and Carver Branch.
Board of Regents approved
transfer of golf course lease
to City of Austin, and A.W.
Tillinghast’s improvements are
made with help of WPA labor
Austin Lions Club transfers lease
donates improvements to the
City of Austin.
A.W. Tillinghast consults on
partial redesign and a modern
irrigation system.
Austin Lions Club negotiates lease
with UT to use a portion of the
tract as a municipal golf course.
Austin Lions Club designs,
constructs, and opens Austin
Municipal Golf Course (Muny).
Col. George Washington
Brackenridge donates 503
acres of riverfront land to the
University of Texas (UT).
THC Board of Review approves
National Register nomination
and deems the history nationally
National Register of Historic
Places lists Muny based upon its
civil rights significance.
National Trust for Historic
Preservation lists Muny on Americas
11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
The Brackenridge Tract Task Force
Report recommends that a master
plan be prepared to guide the
development of the entire tract
by leasing the tracts including the
Golf Course and WAYA facility to
meet “pressing financial needs of
the University.
Texas Historical Commission
(THC) awards Muny a state
subject marker.
The Board of Regents hires New
York firm Cooper Robertson
for $4.9 million to develop
a conceptual master plan to
reimagine the Brackenridge Tract
as a residential and commercial
2021 to Present
Negotiations concerning Muny’s
fate between UT and the City of
Austin continue with input from
The Muny Conservancy and
the Save Historic Muny District
“Evening with the Masters” virtual
Muny Conservancy fundraiser in
October raises critical funds to
continue the campaign to save
Lions with viewers from more
than 25 states tuning in to watch
and donate.
SB 2553 (passes): Relating to
the creation of the Save Historic
Muny Distric
Muny Conservancy formed as
501 (c) 3 to raise funds for 141
acre tract purchase.
The Cultural Landscape
Foundation names Lions Municipal
Golf Course a threatened site.
Preservation Texas lists Muny on
Most Endangered Places.
SB 822 (fails): Relating to the
transfer of certain property
from The University of Texas
System to the Parks and Wildlife
in December 1987 a 20 year lease
for the golf course was signed.
The Brackenridge Development
Agreement (BDA) land use plan
adopted in 1989 contains a
provision that if the golf course
lease is cancelled, the BDA is also
U. T. System Board of Regents
creates the Brackenridge Tract
Task Force to review and identify
facts and issues that impact use
of the land, identify alternatives,
and make recommendations
concerning the Tract.
UT announces plans to break the
lease that is scheduled to end in 1987.
The “Save Muny” campaign is born.
Course design is altered by architect
Leon Howard as part of a city-
funded improvements project that
is agreed to with the continuation
of the long-term lease.
A new lease between UT and
the City of Austin is approved to
commence Dec. 1, 1973 and end
the last day of March 1987. This
lease states that “one of the primary
considerations for the granting
of the lease is “the construction,
operation and maintenance of a
first class golf course available to
the students, faculty and staff of
the University of Texas System as
well as the public at large.
City records suggest that Lions allowed
African Americans to play without limits as
early as 1951, when two black youths were
le undisturbed as they walked the public
golf course - long before Oliver Brown
petitioned the Topeka Board of Education
and Rosa Parks refused to surrender her
seat on a bus in Alabama.
Until the new information about Lions
was found, the earliest documented full
desegregation of a Southern municipal
course occurred in winter 1955 aer a
lawsuit brought by black golfers in Atlanta
reached the U.S. Supreme Court and
forever integrated golf courses in that city.
Other Southern courses permitted
African Americans to play for
abbreviated periods or on certain
days; black caddies, for instance,
were allowed to play on days that
some country clubs were closed.
But Bob Ozer, Ken Tiemann
and General Marshall of Austin say oral
histories and City Council minutes that they
have assembled show Lions to be the first
documented case of African Americans
having unfettered access to city golf in a
sport long seen as a stubborn bastion of
“The city was forward. It was far ahead
of other cities,” said Marshall, a lifelong
resident of Austin.
A University of Miami scholar who
researches the integration of golf courses
has validated the evidence.
“It’s not one piece of evidence that one
can single out, ” said Marvin Dawkins, the
Miami sociologist. “It’s the corroboration
of the pieces of evidence.
Austin American Statesman 10.26.2008 / By Kevin Robbins
e city was forward. It was
far ahead of other cities,
said Marshall, a lifelong resident of Austin.
Dawkins was unaware of Lions until the
sleuthing by the amateur researchers in
Austin. They found an oral history on file
at the Austin History Center recounted by
Taylor Glass, mayor of Austin in 1951. In
the transcript of the interview, Glass said
he remembered getting a telephone call
about two black youths playing golf at
Lions in 1951.
“This was before there was any mixing
of the races in restaurants, schools or
anywhere, ” Glass recalled in the interview,
dated May 23, 1974.
“I don’t see why it ought to bother anybody
out there, and I’m for leaving them alone
and not even calling the newspaper and see
what happens, ” the oral history continues.
“We went on and (let) them play and never
heard a word.
Until now, Austins city courses were
thought to have been integrated in 1959.
But longtime black players at Lions such
as Marshall remembered seeing African
Americans from other cities coming to
Lions earlier than that year to play.
Marshall, a retired professor at Huston-
Tillotson University, played his first round
at Lions in the late 1950s, when he was a
student at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
But he caddied at Lions as a 10-year-old
who walked in the late 1940s from his
home in the Clarksville neighborhood to
tote bags for 85 cents a round.
“There were a number of white caddies,
too. But they could play,” Marshall recalled.
The research also included minutes of
council meetings in January 1951, when the
mayor suggested that the city build a nine-
hole golf course in East Austin specifically
for African Americans, a Jim Crow-
influenced idea that was never realized.
According to the minutes, Council Member
Emma Long replied “that with other needs
in east Austin, a golf course would be too
expensive now, and that there were two
golf courses already in existence.
“I thought it was unnecessary and said
so, ” Long, now 96, said
Long said she remembers
no controversy, deliberation
or even awareness among
council members that
the city was formally
desegregating a golf course. Lions was
already desegregated, Long said. The city
saw no need for a law or proclamation, she
Aer Ozer and the others involved in the
research found the evidence that Lions
had been integrated long before they
had thought, they contacted Dawkins, the
Miami sociologist. Dawkins, who co-wrote
a book published in 2000 called “African
American Golfers During the Jim Crow Era,
” reviewed the evidence.
He said last week that it “clearly established”
that Lions was the first recorded municipal
course in the South to allow black players
to play without limitation.
“Muny’s past might yield
new future, backers say
General Marshall with the Texas
Historical Marker at dedication
ceremony in 2009
Local community activist Mary
Arnold taking questions from
reporters in front of the new
Texas Historical Marker in 2009.
The University of Texas required
that the historical markers be
placed off the property and
therefore are at the entrance on
the city’s land.
I am going to put up
whatever reputation I have
for saving this course
Ben Crenshaw, World Golf Hall of Famer
and Two-time Masters Champion
Muny is everything to me
General Marshall
National Register of Historic Places
Nomination Statement of Signicance:
Muny historians nominate the course for the National Register of
Historic Places with the site being accepted into the register in 2016.
Lions Municipal Golf Course (known locally as
“Muny”), was the first municipal golf course in Austin,
Texas. Muny was established in 1924 by members of
the Austin Lions Club who envisioned a modern,
inclusive golf experience. The Lions Club association
executed a lease with the University of Texas on May
31, 1924, for a portion of the Brackenridge Tract in
West Austin. In 1936, they transferred the eighteen-
hole course and clubhouse to the City of Austin.
While Muny’s course layout has evolved alongside
the game of golf, the property retains its historical
integrity and character. The renowned American golf
course architect A.W. Tillinghast consulted at Lions
Municipal in 1936. Funding and labor from the Works
Progress Administration program led to course
improvements and new buildings in 1937-39. Many
notable golfers have played at Muny including World
Golf Hall of Famers Ben Hogan, Bryon Nelson, and
Tom Kite. A fourth World Golf Hall of Fame member,
Ben Crenshaw, credits the course as instrumental
in his development. Lions Municipal Golf Course,
then, is part of Austins golf legacy. Lions Municipal
Golf Course is also part of a broader, national story
of social and cultural developments around race
relations. In late 1950 – following the Supreme
Court’s decision in Sweatt v. Painter but well before
Brown v Board of Education – Muny quietly became
the first desegregated municipal golf course in the
South (defined as the states of the old Confederacy).
African Americans routinely played at Muny
thereaer. In 1951 and again in July 1953, Joe Louis
(former heavyweight-boxing champion and, at that
time, golf’s ambassador to black America) played at
Muny. The desegregation of Muny and then other
local facilities during 1950-54 occurred without
conflict and with minimal public debate, in contrast
to the hostile resistance of many communities in
the South. Litigation arising from other southern
cities demonstrated that (outside of the events in
Austin) meaningful changes in the desegregation
of city-owned golf courses would only happen aer
Brown was decided in 1954. The desegregation of
Muny reflects progressive changes in the Jim Crow
south before the advent of the post-Brown Civil
Rights movement. For these reasons, the property is
nominated to the National Register at the national
level of significance under Criterion A in the area of
Social History. The property is also nominated at the
local level of significance under Criterion A in the
area of Entertainment and Recreation as a significant
municipal golf course that offered the opportunity
for many to experience the sport of golf without
the club membership required at the Austin Country
Clubs private course (now Hancock Golf Course,
NRHP 2014). The period of significance is 1924-
1966, reflecting the property’s continuous use as a
golf course through the historic period.
This annual list spotlights important examples of the nations architectural and cultural heritage
that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. More than 260 sites have been on the list
over its 28-year history, and in that time, only a handful of listed sites have been lost.
“Now, despite being added to the National Register of Historic Places this past summer, Muny’s
future is uncertain. Muny’s lease, currently held between the City of Austin and the University
of Texas, technically expires in May of 2019, but previous public statements point to a possible
dissolution of the agreement to make way for potential commercial development on the property.
Muny’s future hinges on a longer-term negotiated resolution between the City and the University.
As the complex struggle for racial justice continues to take center stage across America, places
like Austin’s Lions Municipal Golf Course have much to teach us about peaceful efforts towards
increased human decency and respect,” said Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the
National Trust for Historic Preservation. “But Muny cannot continue to highlight an important
side of the American story unless we take action to preserve it as a resource for its community.
National Trust for Historic Preservation:
11 Most Endangered Historic Places (2016)
National Register of
Historic Places: Marker
Dedication Day (2016)
Recognizable Signicance
Notable Support for Historical Preservation at Muny
The National Register of Historic
Places is the official list of the Nations
historic places worthy of preservation.
Authorized by the National Historic
Preservation Act of 1966, the National
Park Services National Register of
Historic Places is part of a national
program to coordinate and support
public and private efforts to identify,
evaluate, and protect Americas
historic and archeological resources.
Muny’s unique legacy has been recognized by distinguished elected
officials, historians as well as state and national organizations.
“The 2017 Most Endangered Places list includes a range of historic places that merit the attention
of Texans statewide. At the local level, grassroots organizations are working to save specific
resources that, if lost, would diminish their communities. We believe that the protection of at-risk
historic places large and small ensures that architectural, historic and cultural landmarks endure
amidst an ever-changing landscape, enriching our quality of life.
Preservation Texas: Texas’ Most
Endangered Places (2017)
“Lions Municipal Golf Course is associated with distinguished golfers and is a respectable piece
of golf course architecture. But, most importantly, the course impacted national history with
respect to race relations in public recreational spaces as the first municipal golf course in the
South to desegregate in late 1950.
Texas Golf Hall of Fame: Registry of
Historic Golf Courses Class of 2017
The Cultural Landscape Foundation -
Landslide: Grounds for Democracy (2018)
From the Press Release: Lions Municipal Golf Course, Austin, Texas. Known affectionately
as “Muny,” Lions Municipal Golf Course was built just two miles west of the State Capitol in
Austin. Aside from its historic design, Muny is best known as the first desegregated municipal
golf course in the South, thanks to the rebellious act of a young African American caddie
in 1950. The University of Texas, Austin, which owns the land that Muny occupies and
leases it to the City of Austin, decided in 2011 that it will not renew the lease beyond 2019,
opting instead to destroy Muny to make way for a mixed-use development. “In the past the
University has advanced the idea of preserving just the clubhouse and not the course itself.
However, the clubhouse was the last part of the Muny site to desegregate, with city officials
even building a separate clubhouse (no longer standing) for African Americans aer the
course was open to them. Prominent leaders of Austins African American community,
including Pastor Joseph Parker of the David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church and Nelson
Linder, head of the local NAACP branch, have pushed back publicly against that idea.
Dr. Paul Stekler
Chair, Department of Radio-Television-Film, University of Texas at Austin
“Muny is an important part of our shared past in Austin, Texas and needs to
be remembered, as both an historical moment in the long process to break
racial segregation and as a living memorial, where people can learn about
that history and still afford the same round of golf that those first African-
American golfers enjoyed in 1950”
Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore
Peter V. and C. Vann Woodward Professor of History, Departments of History,
African American Studies, and American Studies, Yale University
“Historians searching for the impetus of the ‘classical phase of the Civil Rights
Movement,’ preceding Brown v. Board in 1954 and the Montgomery Bus
Boycott in 1955, have posited a ‘long civil rights movement’ that preceded
those iconic struggles. In other words, Lions Municipal Golf Course is
representative of the ‘birth of the civil rights movement.’”
Joseph C. Parker
Senior Pastor, David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, Austin, Texas
“Lions is part of the narrative of racial progress not only in Austin but in the
nation. Preserving it almost elevates to a sacred recognition of what took
place there. My hope continues to be that the University of Texas will respect
the desires of those of us who want it to not be redeveloped. And now with
the considered decision of the registry officials, it appears as if our position
has been affirmed. It seems to me that some serious weight needs to be given
to their decision.
Eddie Bernice Johnson
Representative, 30th District, Texas; Congressional Black Caucus
“Muny has made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of American
history, particularly in the realm of race relations. While other cities litigated
to preserve the segregated nature of their golf courses, Muny set the standard
by extending golf to the African American community as one of the many
privileges of American life that would follow.
United States Golf Association
“Based upon research conducted by the USGA Museum, as well as the work
of scholars within the academic community, we believe that the historical
significance of this municipal golf course warrants our firm endorsement.
Specifically, this research suggests that Lions Municipal in late 1950 became the
first course in the South to desegregate shortly aer the U.S. Supreme Court
decision in Sweatt v. Painter
G.K. Buttereld
Representative, 1st District, North Carolina; Chair, Congressional Black Caucus
“I support this nomination and urge you to list Muny in the Register as a
nationally significant place that should be preserved for its civil rights history.
Jacqueline Jones
Professor and former Chair, University of Texas at Austin Department of History; Ellen C.
Temple Chair in Women’s History and Mastin Gentry White Professor of Southern History
“The National Register should embrace the site, not only for its obvious
place in golf and civil rights history, but as an asset of immense historical and
educational value. It is as much a piece of the American story—and potentially
as powerful as a teachable experience—as the historic battlefields we protect
and embrace.
Sanford Levinson
W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood Jr. Centennial Chair in Law, University
of Texas Law School; Professor of Government, University of Texas at Austin
“So many of the commemorations in recent years have involved shameful
events, like the oppressive violence at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. It
would be good to be reminded, whenever visiting the Municipal Golf Course
for whatever reason (including, most importantly, to play golf), that it was the
site for a nationally significant decision that we can truly be proud of.
James E. Clyburn
Representative, 6th District, South Carolina; Assistant Democratic Leader;
Congressional Black Caucus
“The action of African American citizens in Austin, Texas and the City Council
in desegregating the course at such an early date is notable and recognition
by the National Register should mark a teachable experience for the nation
in our country’s civil rights history.
Be It Proclaimed - Resolutions
Passed to Help Save Muny
RESOLUTIONS & PROCLAMATIONS in support of Muny have been passed by: Travis County Commissioners
Court (2008), Austin City Council (2009), Texas House of Representatives (2009), Lions Club of Downtown
Austin (2015), Austin City Council (2016), Texas Golf Hall of Fame (2016), City of Austin Proclamation (2016),
Preservation Austin (2016) City of Austin General Marshal Day Proclamation (2021).
Its role as a local civil rights landmark
makes it an ideal candidate for
preservation and recognition.
Representative Lloyd Doggett, 35th District, Texas
Muny in the News
close shave
for horns
Ricardo B. Brazziell
Call 445-4040
© 2008, Austin
Muny’s past
might yield
new future,
backers say
By Kevin Robbins
A couple of months ago, a
few friends with a fondness
for Lions Municipal Golf
Course casually began to
explore whether Lions was
the first municipal course in
Texas to integrate the races.
Layer after layer, the evi-
dence revealed a far more
stunning conclusion.
Lions could be the first
verifiable desegregated
municipal course south of the Mason-Dixon
That research from the past could affect the
future of the West Austin golf course, which
is on land owned by the University of Texas
System. UT regents are exploring new ways to
use the property, which has spurred commu-
nity efforts to try to preserve the 80-year-old
Marshall says
shows Lions
integrated in
the early ’50s.
See ROLE, A10
Military preps for
wartime transition
at the White House
daniel craiG: What
its like beinGbond
With financial need
U P, aPPlY for aid earlY
rememberinG the
iconic raW deal
Jay Janner
In a quest for a world record, more than 800
people danced to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller,’
at the Long Center on Saturday. Story, B1.
By Corrie MacLaggan
— Moments before
the plane touches
down, Jay Tronson
swallows a Vicodin to
ease the pain that feels like an
ice pick in his left hip.
It’s nearly 4 a.m., his brain
feels like mush and all he can
think of is the bed in his hotel
room. He can hardly believe
he’s in India. The 54-year-old
Texan has never left North
America before. Never had a
He has come 9,500 miles from
his Pearland home and his
wife, Delia Williams-Tronson,
for surgery he hopes will fix
a worn-out hip that makes it
difficult to put on a sock, much
less walk.
“I’m out of options,” Tronson
says. “Another year of pain like
this, I’d be suicidal.”
How Tronson got to this point
might sound familiar to some
of the 46 million Americans
— including 6 million Texans
— without health insurance.
Hundreds of thousands of
people — the estimates vary
widely — leave the United
States each year for medical
procedures, according to a
recent report by the Deloitte
Center for Health Solutions, a
research arm of the accounting
firm Deloitte LLP.
Tronson, who worked as
a truck driver until his pain
became too intense earlier
this year, didn’t intend to live
without health insurance. In
‘Im out of options. Another
year of pain like this, Id be suicidal.
JAY TRONSON, who traveled 9,500 miles for surgery on his injured hip
With one out of every
four Texans lacking health
insurance, the idea of
traveling abroad for cheaper
health care is gaining
traction. In this
series, staff writer
Corrie MacLaggan
examines the new
world of medical
tourism in India.
See more photos and video
of Jay Tronson on his journey
tourism. Also online:
Interactive map of medical
tourism sites
Medical tourists tell their
personal stories
A look at the variety of
health care options in India
Video of Poonam Dhawan,
owner of an Austin-based
medical travel company
Live chat with staff writer
Corrie MacLaggan at 11 a.m.
Readying to leave: Jay Tron-
son thinks his hip was dam-
aged by years of jumping
from a delivery truck for his
job. The Pearland resident,
packing his bags in August,
decided to go to India to
save money on surgery. He
does not have insurance.
Larry Kolvoord
Thierry Vincent
At the hospital: Jay Tronson’s blood pressure is checked by two nurses
at Apollo Speciality Hospital in India. ‘I hear they treat you like you’re
in a ve-star hotel,’ he said before he arrived at the facility.
Medical travel rms
link doctors, patients
Austinite opened company
after seeing people with can-
cer forgo treatment, A7
COMING MONDAY Insurance companies consider coverage of medical tourism.
COMING TUESDAY Follow Jay Tronson’s recovery and read about issues patients face after overseas treatment.
By Ann Scott Tyson
military, bracing for the first
wartime presidential transi-
tion in 40 years, is preparing
for potential crises during the
handover period, including
possible terrorism attacks
and destabilizing develop-
ments in Iraq or Afghani-
stan, senior military officials
“I think the enemy could well take advan-
tage” of the transfer of power in Washington,
said Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mullen started prepara-
tions for the transition months ago and will
brief the president-elect, the nominee for de-
fense secretary and other incoming officials
calls for cam-
paign nance
overhaul, A5
Experts say
the odds of a
comeback are
against Mc-
Cain, G1
It would be a shame to
bulldoze an amazing Central
Texas historical nd.
Austin American Statesman Editorial Board
Muny in the News -
Stories From the Fight to Save Muny
Save Muny; Save a Piece of History
October 27, 2008 | Austin American-Statesman (TX) Author: Austin American-Statesman Editorial | Page: A08 | Section: Editorial
Given recently uncovered history
surrounding the Lions Municipal Golf
Course in West Austin, the question
no longer is whether to save Lions,
but how?
It is now all but certain that the 80-year-
old public golf course was the first
municipal golf course below the Mason-
Dixon line to be desegregated.
That history became widely known
Sunday courtesy of the American-
Statesmans Kevin Robbins, who reported
on the amazing sequence of events that
unraveled Lions’ past.
The evidence is impressive. City records,
newspaper accounts and eyewitness
testimony now are being validated by
historians, including a leading authority
on the integration of golf courses.
is discovery represents
a need for a corrective
addition to the ocial
history of the desegregation
of American golf, said University
of Miami professor Marvin Dawkins.
Dawkins co-authored the book “African
American Golfers During the Jim Crow
The discovery comes as the Lions golf
course faces an uncertain future.
The golf course sits on the Brackenridge
tract owned by the University of
Texas System. Its board of regents has
hired Cooper, Roberson & Partners, a
planning firm, to explore future uses
for the land, including the golf course.
Austin leases the course from the UT
System, and that lease expires in 2019.
According to city records and other
accounts, Lions allowed African
Americans to play without limits as early
as 1951, years before other southern U.S.
cities did so.
Austin city officials did it quietly without
making headlines when they permitted
two black youths to continue playing
on Lions in 1951. That action - or lack of
action - opened the course to blacks from
across Texas who came to play at Lions on
weekends, said General Marshall, a retired
Huston-Tillotson University professor. As
a 10-year-old, Marshall caddied at Lions
and watched black golfers from Houston
and San Antonio play the course.
Add to that the common sense of former
Austin City Council Member Emma Long,
who balked at the expense of building a
separate golf course in East Austin and
pushed the council not to waste money
on a redundancy.
Though the city did not build a separate
golf course for blacks, it constructed a
separate club house at Lions so white
golfers did not have to shower with blacks.
Minutes of a 1951 council meeting show
that it approved $2,999 for a “lounge” at
Lions that newspaper accounts described
as a “Negro lounge.” It has since been
torn down.
But it still lives in memories of Marshall,
who said African American golfers never
used the clubhouse that sat in the shadow
of the grander clubhouse for whites. “It
was a matter of pride,” said Marshall, who
began playing at Lions in the late 1950s.
Much of the credit for uncovering Lions
past goes to folks associated with Save
Muny, a group mobilized to preserve
the public golf course as the UT System
develops the Brackenridge tract. They are
seeking a historical designation for Lions
and looking into whether it can be named
a National Historic Landmark.
Meanwhile, the Austin City Council is
committed to finding a way to acquire
Lions, but the decision ultimately rests
with the UT System Board of Regents.
Matt Flores, a spokesman for the regents,
told Robbins that the planning firm would
consider the newly uncovered history of
Lions as it weighs options.
That’s good. It would be a shame to
bulldoze an amazing Central Texas
historical find.
Rewritten text for marker
upsets Save Muny leaders
August 9, 2009 | Austin American-Statesman (TX)
Author: Ralph K.M. Haurwitz and Kevin Robbins | Page: A01 | Section: MAIN
Despite reservations from some of its
officials, the Texas Historical Commission
rewrote the text for a historical marker
planned for Lions Municipal Golf
Course at the urging of a member of
the commission and a senior official
of the University of Texas System,
records obtained under the state Public
Information Act show.
The result misconstrues the history of
racial integration at the course, say leaders
of a group seeking to preserve it from
commercial and residential development
by the UT System. Proponents of the
rewording say it clarifies that history.
The marker is the latest flash point in a
larger debate concerning the UT Systems
Brackenridge tract, a 350-acre parcel
along the Colorado River in West Austin
that includes the golf course. A consulting
firm hired by the systems Board of
Regents has recommended eliminating
the golf course and downsizing or
moving a biological field laboratory to
make way for development that could
earn substantial income for UT-Austin.
The marker, which is expected to be
shipped early this week from a foundry
in San Antonio, notes that some scholars
consider the 85-year-old course,
commonly known as Muny, the first
verifiably desegregated public golf
course in the South. Complaints by Earl
Broussard Jr. , a member of the Historical
Commission who also heads a company
that worked on development plans for
the land, and Florence Mayne , the UT
Systems executive director of real estate,
prompted the commissions staff to add
text asserting that “at least one segregated
event” followed the 1951 decision of city
officials to allow blacks to play.
Leaders of the Save Muny group trying to
preserve the course contend that there is
no proof that the event at issue - a private,
invitational golf outing in 1963 - excluded
African Americans. Moreover, they say,
the rewording dilutes the significance of
the day in 1951 when two black youths
were quietly permitted to play golf at
The two youths, whose names are lost
to history, inadvertently desegregated
the course four years before a lawsuit in
Atlanta led to the first formal integration
of a municipal golf course in the South.
Until Save Muny produced its research -
in the form of Austin City Council meeting
minutes and oral histories - city courses
in Atlanta were thought to have been the
first desegregated municipal golf courses
south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Save Muny used its evidence to seek a
historical marker - an effort that drew
resolutions of support from the City
Council, the Travis County commissioners
and the Texas House of Representatives.
Politics or history?
E-mails and other records obtained by
Save Muny and the American-Statesman
show that Historical Commission staff
members were opposed to altering the
marker text but decided to do so, as
one top staff member put it, “in an effort
to satisfy” Broussard and Sarita Hixon ,
another commissioner who had weighed
in on the matter.
Ken Tiemann , a leader of Save Muny, said
the influence of those two commissioners
devalued the importance of the courses
place in history.
“It’s unfortunate that pressure from
politically appointed commissioners
seemed to supercede the opinions of
professional historians,” Tiemann said.
Broussard, Hixon and Mayne said in
interviews that they sought only to ensure
that the marker text was as accurate and
complete as possible. Mark Wolfe , the
commissions chief deputy executive
director, said it made sense to include the
reference to a segregated event because
City Council minutes from 1963 show that
council members discussed the exclusion
of blacks from the tournament.
“That added even more depth to the
story,” Wolfe said in an interview. “If we
can find a way to get it into the marker
text, it helps people understand the site
even better.
The existence of a marker wouldn’t affect
the UT Systems legal authority to develop
the golf course. Even so, the question of
where it will be placed is in dispute.
The UT System, which, as landowner,
gets to make the call, favors the right of
way, although it has not decided precisely
where along one of the streets bordering
the golf course it would like to put the
marker. The Historical Commission also
prefers such a location for wide public
But the Save Muny group, as well as Travis
County Judge Sam Biscoe, say the marker
belongs next to the first tee, where
golfers would be able to read the text.
Biscoe questioned whether the university
views the marker as “an encumbrance on
its commercial interests in the land” - a
suggestion that UT System officials reject.
A final decision on the marker’s location
has not been made, said Anthony de
Bruyn , a spokesman for the system.
Potential for conict
Broussard’s involvement in the wording
of the marker has raised questions about
a potential conflict of interest. One of 17
commissioners appointed to the historical
agency by Gov. Rick Perry, Broussard
is president of TBG Partners Inc., an
Austin-based landscape architecture
and planning firm hired to help prepare
recommendations for the Brackenridge
An assistant state attorney general, Joe
Thrash , cautioned Broussard about his
involvement in the marker’s wording,
e-mails show.
“Joe did contact me, and that’s when
I pulled back,” Broussard said in an
interview. “At all times I acknowledged
that our firm was working on this project.
There was never a question of whether
there should be a plaque. My only issue
was the verbiage and making sure it was
Broussard voted in favor of a marker for
Muny when the matter came before
the commission in January - with the
wording, as is customary, to be le to
the commissions staff based on research
submitted by interested parties. State
ethics law says an official with “a personal
or private interest” in a decision pending
before a board or commission “may
not vote or otherwise participate in the
“Looking back on it, it probably would
have been better to just recuse myself,
Broussard said.
In a May 6 e-mail, Wolfe noted that
Broussard “isn’t supposed to get
involved,” but Wolfe later suggested
adding language about a segregated
event “in an effort to satisfy” Broussard
and Hixon.
That followed an e-mail from Bratten
Thomason , director of the commissions
history programs division, in which she
said Hixon had suggested in a phone
conversation that a reference to the
event “might help quell Earl’s (and
UT’s) objections.” Thomason told her
colleagues that doing so would not add
“to the accuracy of the text or to the
overall story we are trying to tell here.
Wolfe said in an interview that he didn’t
feel pressured by Broussard, Hixon or the
UT System.
Hixon, who is chairwoman of the
commissions history committee, said she
didn’t suggest any particular wording,
only that the inscription be based
on documented facts. She said shes
comfortable with the final wording.
“I don’t normally review every single one,
but if there is a particular marker that has
risen to a level of concern that I’ve been
notified about, for political reasons or
whatever, I like to be kept informed,” she
said. “But I do not give final approval on
the markers. I don’t get to vote. There is
no vote. The staff has the final say.
Marker got special attention
In some ways, the evolution of the marker
text followed a trajectory typical for the
13,000 state historical markers scattered
across Texas. But officials said that this
one has received more attention than
Barry Hutcheson, chairman of the Travis
County Historical Commission, which
backed Save Muny’s application for
a historical marker, recalled an April
meeting attended by representatives of
the UT System, Save Muny and the state
Historical Commission - an “unusual”
occurrence, he said, because marker
text routinely is written by the state
commission, without participation from
anyone else.
“There seemed to be an effort to lessen
the significance of the event by UT. I can
tell you what I sensed,” Hutcheson said.
“They didn’t seem to be interested in
making this a recorded history site.
The Historical Commissions staff
ultimately decided that the marker would
refer to “at least one segregated event”
without further elaboration.
According to City Council minutes
from the 1963 meeting, “a group of
colored citizens” was seeking to play in
an upcoming Austin Golf Association
invitational tournament. Although the
association had allowed blacks to play
in an earlier open tournament, council
members were advised that there wasn’t
enough room to accommodate blacks
this time. The council voted to continue its
policy of allowing private events, with the
city not involved in collecting entrance
fees or determining who is qualified to
Save Muny leader Bob Ozer, an Austin
lawyer, said that policy is essentially
intact today, with various religious, ethnic
and corporate groups holding private
tournaments restricted to their members.
What’s more, he said, the evidence for
concluding that a segregated event
actually took place is inadequate.
“It’s inadequate not only in terms of
historical corroboration. It’s inadequate in
terms of legal corroboration,” Ozer said.
Uncovering history
Bob Brinkman, the coordinator of the
marker program, said Save Muny’s
research in support of its application for
a marker was impressive: The groups
findings included oral histories, City
Council minutes from 1951, newspaper
articles, photographs and even an
analysis of case law about desegregation
in Austin.
But the 1963 council minutes, which
UT System officials found on the city’s
Web site, provided a new layer of
understanding, Brinkman said.
“Even in ‘63,” Brinkman continued, “it
still wasn’t full access. But you had your
access, in one form or another. It still
wasn’t cut and dried.
Mayne, the UT Systems director of real
estate, agreed.
“Yes, it was a huge step forward, absolutely
an important step forward,” Mayne said of
the 1951 decision. “And that’s why we’ve
always said it does need to be honored.
But you don’t honor something by not
also recognizing the challenges that
those African Americans still faced even
Ceremony honors Muny for 1951
groundbreaking integration
October 29, 2009 | Austin American-Statesman (TX)
Author: Kevin Robbins | Page: C04 | Section: SPORTS
With golfers playing in the background Wednesday
morning, supporters of Lions Municipal Golf Course
dedicated the controversial historical marker noting
the 1951 racial integration of Lions as the first known
desegregation of a municipal golf course in the
About 100 people assembled among the divots
on the first tee to hear music and speeches
commemorating the spring day in 1951 when Austin
Mayor Taylor Glass tacitly allowed two young black
men to finish a clandestine round
of golf at Lions.
A citizens’ group called Save
Muny uncovered the event
last year while researching
the history of Lions, known
colloquially as “Muny,” in an
effort to save it from possible
future development.
“In the wide, open spaces of
Muny, everybody gets to play,
Save Muny member Mary Arnold
told those gathered to see the
Texas Historical Commission
marker for the first time.
The black and silver marker was
planted in a temporary hole
on the tee, surrounded by potted plants and green
Mylar balloons. The marker later will be moved to a
right-of-way near a city street along the 85-year-old
course in West Austin.
Speakers ranging from Travis County Judge Sam
Biscoe to General Marshall, a former caddie at Lions,
praised Glass and the city council members who did
nothing when they learned the two black men were
playing the formerly segregated Lions.
“The answer came back: Let them play,” Marshall said.
Lions’ distinction as verifiably the first desegregated
municipal course in the South was confirmed by
Marvin Dawkins, a University of Miami sociologist
who studies golf course integration. Dawkins
attended the ceremony Wednesday.
The discovery last summer accelerated claims from
some quarters of the community that Lions should
not be destroyed aer 2019, when the city’s lease with
the University of Texas System expires. The system
owns the Brackenridge Tract land that includes Lions.
A planning firm hired by
the UT regents suggested
earlier this year that the
system should redevelop
the course to make more
The city and county created
resolutions supporting
Save Muny’s efforts for a
historical marker. The UT
System also got involved,
influencing the language
in the marker to imply
the course was not fully
desegregated aer 1951.
“For me, this isn’t just
about golf, and it isn’t just
about the historical marker,” said Austin City Council
member Sheryl Cole. “It’s about us really getting to
know each other and really moving our city forward.
Carl Mica, director of business relations for the UT
System, was the only representative from the system
at the ceremony.
“This is a good thing,” Mica said
For me, this isnt
just about golf, and
it isnt just about the
historical marker, Its
about us really getting
to know each other
and really moving our
city forward.
- Austin City Council
member Sheryl Cole
Legislative Movement
Texas 85th Legislative Sessions Senate Bill 822
During the 85th Texas Legislative session in 2017, a bipartisan bill that
recognized Muny’s historical significance and provided for the transfer of Muny
to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to preserve it as a heritage site and
golf course was introduced to secure Muny’s future as a public green space.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Craig Estes, passed the Senate with bipartisan
support. It was sponsored by Rep. Lyle Larsson (among others) in the House
but ultimately never made it out of committee to reach the floor for a vote.
Bills would accomplish
what UT has not at Muny
May 2, 2017 | Austin American-Statesman (TX)
Author: Volma Overton Jr. | Page: A9 | Section: VIEWPOINTS
Recent commentary in this newspaper
has suggested using Lions Municipal
Golf Course as a Museum of Housing
Segregation in Texas while develop ing
the golf course itself. This is the wrong
approach - and the university should be
called out on it.
If there is an educational value to
preserving Muny, it rests in some part
on showing the history of racism at the
University of Texas and how the legacy
of that racism still exists in the way the
university has advocated against preserv-
ing Muny and safeguarding the history
associated with it.
One of the most powerful
examples of this racism is the
cynicism through which UT
has manipulated the legacy of
George W. Brackenridge. ey
actually argue that he would
want to destroy a nationally
recognized civil rights
Brackenridge was a union supporter in
the Civil War who was almost hanged
in Jackson County for his sympathies.
Aer the Civil War he had a Confederate
armory demolished using the stones to
build a school for blacks in San Anto nio
named aer Frederick Douglas, the black
abolitionist. Much of his philanthropy
was directed at educational opportunity
for the freedman, not at destroying civil
rights landmarks. UT is besmirching his
good name. But that is only the tip of the
iceberg in how UT has responded to the
community in their efforts to preserve
In fact, instead of embracing and
celebrating Muny’s civil rights triumph, UT
fought us all along the way as we worked
to receive state and federal recognition
of the course as a civil rights landmark.
Behind the scenes, UT had changes
made in the text of a state historical
marker to dilute the importance of
Muny’s desegregation. They requested
the delay of a hearing before the Texas
Historical Commission that resulted in
the expiration of the term of a prominent
African-American preservationist who
was the chair of the State Board of Review.
UT contested the nomination of Muny
for listing in the National Register and
seemed to diminish the role of blacks
in desegregating the course. UT even
questioned whether Alvin Propps had
played the round he did despite it being
witnessed by another African-American
caddie who is now a retired orthopedic
sur geon and former colonel in the military.
In order to more eas ily develop Muny, UT
fought against listing the course that was
desegregated, and instead wanted to list
the clubhouse that remained segregated.
These practices are a throw back to the
way UT benched black football players
so the white guys could win their games.
It is a throwback to the seg regationist
legacy of George Littlefield, whose
theories of racial supremacy still flow
from a fountain on campus. Why don’t
we tear that fountain down and build
the Museum of Housing Segregation
there instead of destroying a civil rights
landmark to do it at Muny?Now, we have
legislation pending that would finally
pre serve Muny and give us the ability to
properly honor its history. Once again UT
is fight ing it.
Muny’s history doesn’t belong in the back
of the bus crowded inside a Jim Crow
clubhouse, while condos sprout up all
around so that the university can shroud
the history. It should be out in the open,
where all can see it and remember what
it means.
I’m supporting Senate Bill 822
and House Bill 4059 because UT
has refused to fully embrace all
that Muny represents. It means
freedom, equality and simple
justice -things everyone should
know and ght for, especially UT.
And in contrast to the privately
owned UT Golf Club, at least since
1951 everyone at Muny gets to
Just like the way UT fought Heman
Sweatt’s admission to law school, I see UT
on the wrong side of history. The riches
to be won from honoring history so far
outweigh the marginal profits they seek.
We give the university a lot, including a
big chunk of the funding for its medical
school. At the very least, UT should give
Muny the respect and honor it deserves
as an important symbol of our country’s
civil rights history.
Overton is a third-generation Austinite
and a member of Save Muny.
House Oks bill to create
Muny district in 2019
“The Save Historic Muny District was created
by the 86th Texas Legislature as a mechanism
for neighborhood participation in the long-
term solution for Lions Municipal Golf Course
(“Muny”). The primary charge of the District is
to preserve 141-acres of green space in Central
Austin that includes Muny, widely recognized as
the first public golf course in the South to become
voluntarily integrated and listed in the National
Register of Historic Places.
In 2019, Senate Bill 2553 by former Austin Mayor
and Texas State Senator Kirk Watson created
this new District in an effort to solve the long-
standing uncertainty surrounding the future of
this significant Austin treasure. The University of
Texas currently owns the land but has leased it
to the City of Austin since 1936. The University
had contemplated closing the golf course and
leasing it to developers to create a mixed use
development. However, the listing of Muny
in the National Register of Historic Places in
2016 cast considerable doubt on that project.
Since then, the University of Texas, the City of
Austin, and the Save Historic Muny District have
been working together to determine the future of
the property.
Many notable golfers have played at Muny
including World Golf Hall of Famers Ben Hogan,
Bryon Nelson, Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw.
Austin legend Ben Crenshaw, who credits his
development as a golfer to his time on the course,
has advocated tirelessly to save the Course for
future generations. The District’s five-member
governing board whose honor it is to serve as
stewards of Muny was named by an appointing
committee consisting of the Mayor of the City of
Austin, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department,
the Texas Historical Commission, the Texas State
Preservation Board, the Texas Nature Conservancy,
Preservation Texas, and the Texas Golf Hall of
Fame.” -
Save Historic Muny District Board Members:
Mary Arnold, Brian Greig, Andrea McWilliams,
Volma Overton III, Ken Tiemann
Since 1924, a beloved natural
green space amid a developing
Host for 60,000 rounds of golf
each year, on average
An attraction for local and
regional golfers, with fewer than
14% of players residing in the
same zip code as Muny
A practice course for more than
12 Austin area middle and high
school golf teams
A perennial location for
University Interscholastic League
tournaments, having hosted
hundreds of schools from across
Host to more tournaments and
charity events than any of the
city’s other public golf courses
A civil rights historical site,
recognized as the first racially
integrated municipal golf course
in the South
A local treasure in the legacy
of Texas golf
A 141-acre wildlife sanctuary
and water recharge zone
Home to protected heritage
Today, Lions Municipal Golf Course is:
The loss of the only 18-hole
public golf course in central
Demolition of priceless green
space in an increasingly dense
urban area
The permanent loss of a civil
rights landmark and National
Register of Historic Places site
The culling of hundreds of
protected heritage trees
That taxpayer funds would be
collected to support decades
of construction work in central
Thousands of additional vehicle
trips in the areas around Muny in
The end of a public place that
has been part of Austins fabric
for more than half of the city’s
A bulldozed and developed Muny would mean:
Remain the most popular and
scenic public course in Austin
Enhance quality of life for all
Austinites as an affordable
recreation opportunity
Offer a world-class municipal
course with restoration led by
local golf legend and acclaimed
course designer Ben Crenshaw
Honor Muny’s early
desegregation and nearly
100 years of golf history with
museum quality displays thought
the course and a learning center
within the historic clubhouse
Have a new clubhouse with
a public restaurant and event
Be open to the public as a park
on designated days
Enhance the value of future
development projects on
surrounding land
Lions Municipal Golf Course in the near future could:
How We Keep Playing - A Plan for the
future of Lions Municipal Golf Course
As the city’s most beloved and affordable
course, Muny currently hosts around
60,000 rounds of golf each year,
stages more charity tournaments than
any Austin course, serves as a practice
facility for more than 12 middle and high
school golf teams, and is known for the
hundreds of heritage trees throughout
the property. Lions is also the home of
the Austin Junior Golf Academy where
young players from all over the City and
from every economic background come
to learn golf and the social importance of
the game from a staff of dedicated golf
professionals and teachers.
The Save Muny Committee has been
raising public awareness on the grassroots
level since 1973. Now, as UT seeks a
permanent use for these 141 acres, The
Muny Conservancy is working to raise
the necessary funds to purchase and
renovate Lions Municipal Golf Course.
Land ownership will allow us to
welcome even more Austinites. We’ll
host community events like farmer’s
markets and concerts, embrace the next
generation with extra putting greens,
lawn bowling, croquet and an expanded
driving range, build a new clubhouse
with a restaurant, and much more.
“For Many, the Pandemic Has Led
to the ‘Discovery’ of Golf
- New York Times, March 22, 2021
Even before the covid-19 pandemic, the game of golf was
growing and poised for a renaissance fueled by millennials taking
up the game, expanded youth programs, and communities
reinvesting in their public courses. Golf as a sport has a bright
future with great potential to be a unifying community
resource. Now more than ever, it is crucial to celebrate our
municipal courses and prioritize improvement of amenities and
increased access to the green space they provide. Affordable
golf is an important part of a city’s recreational fabric. It provides
an opportunity for a broader set of community stakeholders to
access a game that is good for the soul and good for health that
can unite players across generations.
“Latest numbers show a massive uptick in play; U.S. golfers
logged 20% more rounds in August 2020 than August 2019.
The increase marks the fourth consecutive month with a year-
over-year increase and underscores a trend: People are playing
a lot of Golf.
Rounds in Texas were up 39%, rounds in Florida were up
37% and rounds in Arizona were up 31%, according to the NGF.
Every state saw at least a 2% increase in rounds played.
( National Golf Foundation)
Around a third of all golfers in the U.S. are now millennials.
Younger golfers are proving the stereotype that golf is a
sport for the older segments of the population wrong.
Between April 23 and May 5, 2021, the number of rounds sold
online at public courses that were open was up 60% from the
previous year.
Juniors (6-17) and young adults (18-34) make up about 35% of all
on-course golfers.
Women’s presence in beginner and junior segments of golfers
has grown as well. They are especially interested in off-course
golf experiences, including golfing ranges, comprising upto
40% of all off-course golfers. (Market Trends & Reports, March 2021)
Why Golf now?
Future plans include a new
entrance leading to a clubhouse
with a restaurant and grill, an
expanded pro shop, meeting and
event spaces, and a tournament
staging area.
New Clubhouse
This event space and learning
center will honor the historic
desegregation of the course, the
personalities that have walked the
fairways of Lions, and Austin golf
Existing Clubhouse
We plan to expand the current
range and add 20 new hitting
and teaching bays.
Driving Range
Renovations will create space
for additional putting greens,
croquet and lawn bowling,
community events, and farmers
Flexible Green Space
Renovation Highlights
New Driving Range and Flexible Green Space, Renovated Existing Clubhouse, Trails to Hike
and Bike Extension, Lawn Bowling, Croquet and Putting Greens, New Clubhouse, New Entrance
Award winning golf course architects, Bill Coore and two-time Masters Champion, Ben Crenshaw have developed
more than 30 acclaimed golf courses around the world, including the Sandhills in Nebraska (#1 modern ranking) and
Friars Head on Long Island (#3). Among their designs are affordable public courses including the Warren Course for
The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. The two esteemed designers have also led historic renovations
on numerous classic golden age courses such as the Donald Ross gem Pinehurst #2, Tillinghast’s Brook Hollow in Dallas
and Maidstone on Long Island.
The firm of Coore & Crenshaw will donate their time to lead the renovation on Lions Municipal, and is an opportunity
the city, state and university should embrace. A Coore & Crenshaw historic renovation of Muny would restore the
pre-1974 routing (below) that originated from the architectural genius of B.F. Rowe as well as World Golf Hall of
Famers A.W. Tillinghast and Harvey Penick.
An updated driving range, covered teaching bays, and new large putting and chipping greens will also be available
to those who seek to learn and practice the game. The existing clubhouse will undergo renovation to provide new
public gathering spaces as well as a museum to commemorate the civil rights history of Lions and Austins extensive
golf history. In the future, Coore & Crenshaw envision an entirely new clubhouse with an expanded pro shop, meeting
rooms, a bar, and a restaurant as well as staging areas for golf tournaments and other public events. Other amenities
will include additional parking and a walking trail connecting Enfield Road to the new clubhouse and Lake Austin Blvd.
These new designs and updates would perpetuate Lions Municipal as a treasured resource where golfers and non-
golfers alike congregate to enjoy one of Austins most precious historic green spaces.
Golfers, green space advocates and civil rights leaders from all over the country are working actively to save Muny
from a terrible fate. You may have a role in how the movement to save the 97-year-old course from development
plays out. The results will say a lot about what we value as a society and will define our legacy for generations.
Municipal courses are the backbone of American golf. These are places built for
the people. For over a century, publicly owned and operated courses have been the
breeding ground for passionate players and lifelong lovers of the game.
“Munis” make up a significant amount of our nation’s golf landscape and they come
in all shapes and sizes. Some are short scruffy and filled with quirk while others are
big brawny and immaculately manicured. They have one unifying commonality —
anyone can play them. What a beautiful ideal to uphold!
Municipal golf has seen both good times and bad in America. In most places they
teeter in between. Some would have them shuttered, claiming that the land and
money should be put to better use. However, there are also millions of people who
are willing to fight for their ability to enjoy public golf.
The game means too much to too many for municipal facilities to become defunded.
That doesn’t mean it will be easy to keep them open and improve their experiences,
but this is’s not supposed to be easy. Municipal golf only works when
we demand that it does. Like most elements of our democracy, we must insist that
our leaders listen, learn, and act if we are to preserve the benefits of public golf.
Municipal courses matter in so many ways and it’s up to those who use, need, and
support them to help share that truth. That starts with putting some skin in the game
and getting involved. Ask yourself, what can I do for my Muni?
Above everything else, golfers need to promote the benefits and beliefs that drive
public golf. In unison, those who want these courses to thrive should proclaim
their support and show their dedication to this cause. Sharing with the masses that
municipal courses uphold an important promise that is fundamental to the future
of the game: Golf is for everyone. A creed that should be proudly shared all across
our country.
Jay Revell
Where Golf Goes From Here
Join the conversation. Donate. Get involved. And help spread the word that we must
save Muny, for good! For the latest information on how to help the Save Muny effort
through the Muny Conservancy, sign up for email updates at and follow
us on social media.
The Muny Conservancy is a 501c-3 and funds are currently being raised from individuals
and foundations to secure the future purchase of the course from the University of
Texas, and to fund renovations and the addition of public amenities to the property. For
giving opportunities, donations can be made online or mailed to The Muny Conservancy
at 1800 Nueces St.; Austin, Tx. 78701. For a personal philanthropy discussion you can
call Scott Sayers at 512-478-3483. Conservancy Board members are also available for
in person meetings and tours of the property.
Your contributions both small and large also make it possible for the Muny Conservancy
to support long term oak preservation, scholarships for the Austin Junior Golf Academy
and other urgent course needs.
How can you help?
General Marshall passed away on June 22nd, 2020. He was a longtime advocate for the preservation
of Lions Municipal Golf Course. General was essential in bringing to light how “Muny” furthered the
racial integration of public facilities in Austin (and beyond) as the first desegregated public course in the
southern United States. Because, in fact, he lived it.
Marshall was born in Austin, Texas on February 27, 1936. He grew up in Clarksville. From the age of ten,
he worked as a Lions caddy during 1946-1952. He was paid 85¢ to carry a bag for eighteen holes (or 50¢
for nine holes) and oen earned double carrying two bags. He personally saw the integration of Lions
during 1950, aer which he recalled: “there were several groups of African Americans who came to play
Muny. I remember specifically that some had big bags and took caddies. I felt especially proud. They
came from San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston.” General played his first round at Muny in 1952.
General Marshall graduated from Old Anderson High School in 1953 and was awarded a four-year
scholarship at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Aer graduating with honors in 1957, he taught high school
for nine years in Statesboro, Georgia, where General and his family helped to integrate the public school
that his children attended, as well as theaters, restaurants, and local golf courses. Aer returning to Austin
in 1966, he earned a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Texas and started teaching at
Huston-Tillotson College. On leave from Huston-Tillotson during 1974-76, General earned a doctorate
in mathematics at the University of Houston. General returned to Huston-Tillotson and retired in 2001
as a full professor. He was a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church. He coached the Huston-Tillotson
golf team from 1971-1981. He was a three-time winner of the Austin Senior Amateur Championship and
was President of the Capital City Golf Association. General was recognized by the University of Texas
Division of Diversity and Community Engagement for his contributions to the city of Austin and also
honored by youth development organization First Tee in 2018 for his representation of its core value of
Marshall was a fierce supporter and spokesperson for the Save Muny initiative since the 1970s. He
also had a love for photography and photographed many events and tournaments at Muny, where he
continued to play until just a few years before his passing, still breaking 80 even at age 80. General will
be dearly missed and fondly remembered by all who knew him, especially his fellow Save Muny members
who will continue his fight to preserve the beloved course. The eighth hole at Lions Municipal Golf
Course is named The General Marshall Hole. His life will be honored at Muny forever.
The City of Austin honored General Marshall with a Proclamation declaring his birthday, February 27, as
General Marshall Day in 2021.
Remembering General Marshall
Photo by Ralph Barrera
Save Muny. For good.
Tx ID: 84-29990
This bookle is o or resle d is ieded or educiol purposes
oly. All coe is copyrighed d reproducio is prohibied.
Addiiol reserch erils, icludig he coplee Niol Regiser o
Hisoric Plces oiio is vilble upo reques  io@sveu.