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April 2019

Speculation Rampant About “The Wall’s” Impact on Golf

By Steve Eubanks

As with everything dealing with Pres. Donald Trump’s proposed border-security barrier, the politically-charged “wall,” speculation is running rampant about who will be affected. Golf is a big part of that. Low-lying areas of the Rio Grande basin in Texas have been perfect for golf courses for years. 

The Max A Mandel Municipal Golf Course in Laredo, for example, sits nestled between the river to the south and highway 69W to the north. Should the wall come to Laredo, it will likely be right along the course.

“We welcome Border Patrol to come in and put their sensors, their cameras,” said Mauricio Vidaurri, who owns 140 acres along the Mexican border in the Laredo area. But Vidaurri, like many residents, worries about where a wall will be built and how the government will take the land.

“The way the eminent domain laws are written, we have no rights,” said Gary Jacobs, a 77-year-old retired banker in Laredo. “That’s abhorrent to me.”

For some, the questions are not hypothetical or philosophical. In Brownsville, the Fort Brown Memorial Golf Course has been gone so long there is almost no trace that it ever existed. Located on a peninsula in one of the Rio Grande’s many bends, an Obama-era fence, one of the ones with slats that has been shown in the news lately, cut off the course from the rest of Texas. Only one small gap in the fence remained for golf traffic. 

But while the fence has been cited as the final blow to Brown Memorial, other factors played a large role. Several additional golf complexes opened in the Brownsville area, putting pressure on rounds in the depth of the Great Recession.

There was also gunfire. As drug activity increased on the Mexican side of the border — one of the main reasons the fence was erected in the first place — membership at Brown Memorial dwindled.

No one knows if any golf courses will be affected by the proposed wall, just as no one knows how much, if any of it, will be built. But that won’t stop speculation from running rampant.
It already is. 

Steve Eubanks is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and New York Times bestselling author.

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