Asheville Muni Golf Course gets significant renovations

Asheville – In a remarkable turnaround that has captivated golf enthusiasts, the once-deteriorating 16th hole at the Asheville Municipal Golf Course has transformed into one of the best holes on the course. Previously plagued by steadily degrading conditions over the years, the hole has undergone a stunning improvement under the new management agreement between Commonwealth Golf Partners and the city of Asheville.

Designed by renowned golf architect Donald Ross, the 18-hole course, affectionately known as “Muni,” has been a beloved fixture in Asheville since its opening in 1927. As the last affordable public fee course in the city, it has hosted the Skyview Golf Tournament, the country’s longest-running professional tournament owned and operated by Black residents, for 63 years.

The transformation of the 16th hole was no easy feat. It required a comprehensive approach guided by a $25,000 master plan prepared by golf architect Kris Spence. This plan served as a roadmap for restoring the course’s original Donald Ross features and preserving its historic design. With the plan displayed prominently in the clubhouse, the staff at Muni had a clear vision for the course’s future.

To fund the planned $3.5 million in renovations, the city secured $2.9 million in funding, with a significant portion reserved for stormwater remediation projects to address sinkholes and improve the overall condition of the course. The stormwater project is expected to begin construction in late November or December.

The 16th hole serves as a prime example of the issues that plagued the Asheville Municipal Golf Course. It was patchy and had worn edges, with golf carts carving makeshift paths. But thanks to the efforts of the new management, wooden posts now discourage cart trespassing, and a small staircase leads to the green, which has been resodded with salvaged bent grass from a local course.

Golfers who have frequented the course for years have noticed the dramatic improvement. Lonnie Gilliam, a regular player since the 1960s, described the previous conditions as horrific but now considers the 16th hole perfect and pristine. The positive changes have generated a sense of excitement among the local golfing community.

Under Commonwealth’s management, ongoing maintenance efforts have transformed the entire course. Fairways are well-defined, greens, tee boxes, and fairways have been rebuilt and sodded, bunkers have been restored, and cart paths have been repaired. The removal of trees and trimming of others has improved sightlines and allowed for better grass growth. The introduction of a herd of goats has also helped clear away underbrush and invasive species.

In addition to course improvements, Commonwealth implemented a new rate structure, which included overall fee increases but retained discounts for city residents. The average revenue per round has increased significantly, and the course is expected to host more than 53,000 starts in 2024, up from 41,600 in previous years.

Overall, the transition to Commonwealth’s management has been deemed a huge success. Revenue has increased by 24% from January to September compared to the previous year. Pat Warren, the course’s general manager, expressed gratitude for the positive changes and noted the unprecedented growth and improvement in the last 20 years.

Golfers like Paul Bonesteel, president of “Friends of Asheville Muni,” have witnessed the proper use of funds and the noticeable quality and efficiency of the renovations. Transparency and open communication between course users, management, and the city have fostered a sense of trust and satisfaction among the golfing community.

While there is still work to be done, the Asheville Municipal Golf Course stands as a testament to the dedication and commitment of Commonwealth Golf Partners in revitalizing this historic course. Golfers can now enjoy an affordable and well-maintained course that showcases the unique beauty of Asheville.


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