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Construction continues for Rockwood Golf Course renovation

Rockwood Golf Course

The original Rockwood Golf Course, designed by golf course architect John Bredemus, opened in 1938. It has subsequent upgrades by golf course architect Ralph Plummer. It is scheduled to re-open October 2016.

1851 Jacksboro Highway

Fort Worth 76114

www.fortworthgolf.org

West side development

The Rockwood Golf Course renovation is one of several projects coming to Fort Worth’s west side. Just minutes away from Rockwood is The River District development, which will be located between Roberts Cutoff and Priddy Lane along White Settlement Road. The 276-acre project, headed by Fort Worth developer Fort Capital LP, will feature residential, retail and entertainment space, such as an outdoor amphitheater called Crystal Springs on the River.

Also nearby is the ongoing townhome development in the Linwood Park area, headed by Fort Worth developer Village Homes. In April, the Fort Worth City Council voted to rezone a block surrounded by Wimberly, Whitmore, Currie and Weisenberger streets so a future townhome development can come in. The specifics of the development haven’t been planned yet, said Mary Nell Poole, lead administrative executive at Fort Worth development company TownSite, which has been working on the project with Village Homes.

The greens haven’t been so green at the municipal Rockwood Golf Course, as golfers have found themselves swinging through patches of grass that have grown rough over the 78 years the course has existed.

“It was not in great condition, particularly in the summer when irrigation became an issue,” said Kevin Long, executive director at The First Tee of Fort Worth, a youth golf organization with offices at Rockwood. “There are jokes that sometimes Rockwood was aptly named because it was so hard and firm.”

But now the old grass is gone. The city temporarily closed Rockwood in November to make way for a $5.1 million renovation, with Houston-based Heritage Links as contractor and Arlington-based Colligan Golf Design as designer. The 18-hole course that lies between Jacksboro Highway and the West Fork of the Trinity River is going through an extreme makeover, replacing just about everything from the tee boxes to the greens, and adding a new irrigation system and cart paths among other renovations. The renovated Rockwood is scheduled to reopen in October.

“It’s not the same golf course,” said Nancy Bunton, assistant director of golf and athletics for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. “It’s very exciting.”

Rockwood has never been renovated since it opened in 1938, and after the 2008 recession, the aging course struggled to compete with other more modern courses in Fort Worth, Bunton said. After the recession, independently owned golf courses began lowering their rates, nearly matching the lower rates of city-owned courses (city rates run between about $6 and $30, depending on how old you are and what time you play). When golfers began realizing they could play a newer course for about the same price as a municipal course, they began taking their clubs to places other than Rockwood, Bunton said.

Rockwood lost money, recording revenue losses totaling $679,847 during 2013-2015.

Some hope came after voters approved a 2014 bond package that included $2 million to renovate Rockwood. With the rest of the funding coming from gas revenues and capital funds, the project was good to go.

Bunton said she hopes the renovations will turn things around at Rockwood. Not much is left of the old course other than some trees and a stone bridge on the back nine. Pretty much everything else is new. Since construction began in December, workers have been busy reshaping the course and building tee boxes and bunkers. The course will also have a double- and triple-row irrigation system – an upgrade from the outdated single-row irrigation system the course had, Bunton said.

The new irrigation system should create a better playing surface, along with the new grass that will be laid down in the next few weeks, she said.

Bunton said Rockwood also hopes to build a new clubhouse, maintenance facility and cart barn in the future if funding is approved.

Though the main course is closed, The First Tee’s office at the Ben Hogan Learning Center remains open, along with four holes out of the six-hole practice course known as The River’s Edge. The practice course should fully reopen once renovations are done.

Long, who would often play at Rockwood before it closed for renovation, said that while the old course was fine, he’s “excited” about the new course.

“It was a very fun little course to play,” he said. “It’s grown past its time over the years. With that course being there now, the new golf course, what that’s going to do is draw a lot of new players.”

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