Golf was a different game in the early 60’s. Popularity for the sport was increasing yet access was still primarily limited to expensive private golf courses and clubs. In short, golf was a difficult sport for the “common man” to take up.
During this time period, a group of citizens would rally and begin to work with the city government. Their goal was to create access to affordable golf by developing a new municipally operated public golf course.
The first step taken by this group was to solicit the Johnson City parks and recreation department. The department, through its board, embraced the concept and worked with this group to move the process forward.
As support grew, the city decided to further investigate the merits of the project. The Johnson City planning department was asked to conduct a feasibility study. Their conclusion was that the construction of a new public golf course would be of great benefit to the city. Some of the benefits noted were: The golf course would provide wholesome recreation for all – be an economic development tool to attract new industry – provide new park space – provide beautification and open spaces – act as a tourist and convention attraction – increase property values.
Based on these findings, city management decided to pursue the project. A plan to issue general obligation bonds for construction was created. Leaders knew that the city would be receiving an urban renewal grant and the thought process was that the construction of the golf course could be included as one of the projects receiving funds from this grant. If approved, the federal government would pay for 75% of the project with the city paying for the remaining 25% (through golf course revenues) thus most likely resulting in the city not being tasked with having to sell the bonds. The original budget for construction of Johnson City Municipal golf course was $243,000.
At this point a few citizens questioned if opening a golf course was the right course of action. They organized and began to solicit signatures on a petition that would place the issuing of bonds for a golf course to a referendum. They wanted a public vote on the matter. They succeeded in meeting the requirements and a referendum would be held.
This referendum was held on December 12, 1961. The issue passed with a final vote of FOR–1945 and AGAINST–1470. It was now official; the city was going to build a golf course.
Construction would begin in the spring of 1962 with golf course architect Alexander G. McKay overseeing the project.
Most of what is now the back nine was farm land while parts of what is now the front nine included numerous occupied houses. As a result the front nine took longer to finish due to the securing of land, etc.
Finally on March 23, 1963 the course opened for play on what is now the back nine. Daily green fees were $1.50 and yearly passes were offered for $50. Construction would continue with all 18 open for play by 1964.
The course would be known as Johnson City municipal golf course up until 1970. At this time a contest was held to come up with a name for the course. City resident Jack Lewis came up with the winning name, Pine Oaks golf course.
Pine Oaks would evolve into one of the most popular public golf courses in the area. Offering quality course conditions at an affordable price has allowed Pine Oaks to meet it’s original mission from all those years ago of simply providing a place for the “common man” to play golf. The wisdom and efforts of those early citizens will forever be remembered by all those that continue to enjoy Pine Oaks Golf Course.
DO YOU REMEMBER 1963?
Top grossing movie - Cleopatra
Top Song - Sugar Shack by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs
Average cost of a new house - $12,650.00
Average income per year - $5,807.00
Average cost of a gallon of gas - 29 cents
Average cost of a new car - $3,233.00
Green Fee at Pine Oaks - PRICELESS ($1.50)