Public Access Golf is Alive and Well in Oklahoma
By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Sunrise at Karsten Creek
The golf world has eyes on the Sooner State of Oklahoma this week as the 104th PGA Championship takes place at Tulsa’s Southern Hills Country Club. Oklahoma, which is right in the heart of the South Central United States, boasts some incredible public facilities.
Some of the true gems that Oklahomans are proud to call their own include the following…
LaFortune Park Golf Course
Just a few miles south of Southern Hills Country Club, LaFortune Park GC offers an 18-hole Championship layout, an 18-hole lighted par-3 course and a fantastic lighted driving range, making it the pride of Tulsa golf. Since 1960 LaFortune Park Golf Course has been a shining example of Tulsa golf in Oklahoma. Recent renovations to their traditional layout by Tulsa golf course architect Randy Heckenkemper have brought new life to this facility.
Lincoln Park Golf Course
Lincoln Park Golf Course in Oklahoma City has two impressive championship golf courses. The East course at Lincoln Park is sure to test your skills and is certain to provide an enjoyable round of golf every time you play it. The West Course is the featured golf course at Lincoln Park. Both of these courses are always maintained in tournament conditions.
Kickingbird Golf Club
Currently undergoing a complete renovation, Kickingbird will feature a new clubhouse and banquet hall along with an expanded driving range, a new short game facility as well as all new greens. They plan to re-open in the fall of 2022 and will continue to be one of the most popular courses in the city of Edmond.
The Club at Forest Ridge
The Club at Forest Ridge features an award-winning championship golf course. Always in excellent shape with good greens, a great staff and all the amenities, the strength of the course lies in the par 3’s. 13 and 15 feature brilliant rock walls that run next to the green and offer the most memorable shots of the round.
Shangri La Resort
Shangri La Resort offers 27 holes of pristine lakeside golf on its premier championship course. The course offers a relaxed, traditional golf experience that reminds you of what a golf outing should be. Nestled along beautiful Grand Lake, there is no rush and a definite feel of lake life while you play. With a new 18-hole executive course opening soon, Shangri La will soon be the go-to destination for Oklahoma golfers.
Karsten Creek Golf Club
Karsten Creek was named after the founder of Ping, the late Karsten Solheim. The course was designed by Tom Fazio. The 110 acre lake Louise, named after Karsten‘s wife, is a predominant feature on the course, especially on the par 5 closing which comes into play the entire hole. The Solheim family are major backers of the Oklahoma State University golf program, and that support can be seen through the OSU private practice facility located close to the clubhouse. Karsten Creek is ranked 48th in Golf Magazines top 100 Courses You Can Play, and 24th on Golf Digests America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses.
“The courses you highlighted are all PGA facilities employing some of the best golf professionals in the South Central PGA. Our section has some of the best public golf around supported by our PGA Members. These courses support section programs. They host section events, junior events, and foundation programming. They are fantastic facilities.” said Brian Davis, Executive Director of the South Central PGA Section.
Recently, PGA REACH, the PGA of America’s foundation arm, through their "place to play" initiative donated $250,000 to two city-owned courses in Tulsa. That pledge is part of a much bigger investment that Tulsa is making in its municipal golf facilities going forward. In a press conference in late April, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum pledged that the city would provide the funding necessary to ensure that the golf courses are properly maintained for years to come.
Earlier this year, the Tulsa City Council approved $1 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding for golf course improvements. The funding is contingent on the community raising $1 million in matching funds. The PGA’s $250,000 donation was a great start towards that $1 million goal.
“We hope it inspires others to lean in and help maximize the $1 million matching funds grant the city of Tulsa has provided,” said Kennie Sims, senior director of PGA Reach Impact. PGA REACH will also establish a PGA Jr League program in Tulsa and provide services to veterans through its PGA HOPE initiative.
Public golf is alive and well throughout the great state of Oklahoma, and in Tulsa specifically, an investment in the future of the game is a shining example of the importance the game plays on a larger scale in communities throughout the United States.