Scott Ball / Rivard Report
The future at the San Pedro Driving Range & Par 3 Golf Course is so bright it shines in the dark.
When a $4 million renovation project is complete, golfers will be able to drive balls and play nine holes beneath LED lights until midnight, seven days a week.
If the demand is strong enough, the facility could remain open 24 hours. “It could go on all night,” said Jim Roschek, president and CEO of Municipal Golf Association – San Antonio (MGA-SA). “This will be the coolest place to hit golf balls in San Antonio.”
A driving range and par 3 built in 1950 will soon transform into a 21st Century entertainment venue. Think urbanized “Top Golf” for the serious golfer – with a hook for potential newcomers.
Instead of bays and tiered driving targets, there will be a 350-yard range, a 1,600-yard, 9-hole course, three putting greens and a teaching academy. A new 5,245-square foot clubhouse will feature a restaurant, bar, and state-of-the-art golf simulator.
The simulator can provide high-tech data analysis of golf swings and show a live tournament or a Spurs game on a 24-foot screen. The simulator allows golfers to play more than 100 simulated courses around the world, such as St. Andrews and Pebble Beach.
“We are blending the fun and the seriousness with technology and teaching,” Roschek said. “And a really neat par 3.”After closing for renovations in 2016, San Pedro hopes to re-open exactly one year to the day on April 1. The driving range and clubhouse will open first, with instruction offered from former PGA Tour professional and Texas Open champion David Ogrin. The golf course and putting greens will open in May. A grand opening is planned for early June.
Roschek hopes golfing under the lights will attract serious players. He also hopes the renovated par 3 and new clubhouse will attract the curious and the time-conscious.
“In golf, time is so important,” Roschek said. “So instead of playing 18 holes at four hours and 15 minutes, you can get in a round in an hour, have lunch and go.”
Spouses can relax on a patio outside the clubhouse and watch golfers on the driving range. Couples can sit in the bar, enjoy drinks and watch games on TV.
Since May 2007, MGA-SA has partnered with the City Council to improve and manage Alamo City Golf Trail, a network of San Antonio’s eight municipal golf courses. Roschek supervised the $4.5 million renovation of Brackenridge Park GC, the state’s oldest public course, in 2008.
San Pedro represents another major project. According to Roschek, the clubhouse cost $1.8 million to build, the 9-hole course $1.2 million to remodel, the lighting and other features more than $700,000.
The money was borrowed from the city on a 10-year note, Roschek said, to be repaid through operations. “We have done this on other projects,” he said, “and it has worked well.”
According to Roschek, the MGA-SA has spent $125,000 over the past 18 months improving Riverside Golf Course and will spend $1.5 million on new bridges at Olmos Basin Golf Course and Willow Springs Golf Course.
When renovations are completed, those who frequented San Pedro will not recognize the place. The old clubhouse has been razed. A modern one has been constructed. The par 3 has been extended. There will be a synthetic putting green, a natural grass putting green, and a third green for chipping.
In years past, regulars hit balls on the driving range under partial lighting until 9 p.m. Golfers could drive under the lights but were unable to follow the balls as they disappeared in the dark. New lighting will change that experience.
“The biggest thing that will separate San Pedro from any other course in the city will be the lights,” said Travis Salkowski, the San Pedro operations director. “The entire place is lit. The driving range and the golf course will have lights. So, extending the hours of golf past sundown is the difference.”