Text of Texas Historical Commission Marker

Lions Municipal Golf Course

In 1924, local Lions Club members formed the Austin Municipal Golf and Amusement Association to open the first public golf course in the city. The Association leased part of the Brackenridge tract from the University of Texas, and by the fall of that year had converted the heavily wooded land into a nine-hole facility. It later added a brick clubhouse and expanded the course to 18 holes, retaining the name “Lions Municipal” or “Muny” after transfer of the least to the City of Austin in 1936.

The site is near the historically African American community of Clarksville; yet, while young men from that neighborhood helped build Muny and often worked as caddies, a system of segregation at public recreational facilities kept African American citizens from playing the course. In 1950, Mayor Taylor Glass anticipated building a separate, segregated course. However, some City Council members thought it was not a cost-effect measure, and on April 5, 1951, Council woman Emma Long suggested African American golfers be allowed to use existing public courses.

Two black youths forced the city’s ultimate decision by walking onto Muny and playing golf. Authorities decided to let them complete their groundbreaking round, ushering in an era of de facto integration at Muny. Although at least one segregated event was held after this and segregated clubhouses were maintained, play on the course was otherwise integrated. The quiet desegregation at Muny preceded access at other public courses, as well as federal public accommodation legislation, by several years, drawing African American golfers to Austin from around the state. Some scholars consider this the earliest integration of a public golf course in the Southern United States.

 

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