Thursday, September 3, 2020 by Savana Dunning

Municipal golf courses to phase out BYOB policy, negotiating concession vendor contracts

The Parks and Recreation Department announced it will be eliminating its bring-your-own-beer policy for municipally run golf courses, starting Oct. 1.

PARD’s Golf ATX Division quietly updated its website and Twitter on Aug. 21 with a public notice informing golfers that municipal courses will slowly transition away from the BYOB policy in favor of offering concession services.

Kevin Gomillion, the PARD Golf Division manager, said the decision is the result of new Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission rule interpretations and insurers no longer providing third-party liability coverage to the city should something happen to golfers consuming alcohol they brought onto the premises.

“In locations where you have people being able to bring alcohol but it’s also being sold on the premises, if there is a DUI or there is an accident, the first question an insurance provider is asking is, where did the alcohol come from?” Gomillion said. “It’s not much different than ACL Festival.”

The municipal golf course concessioners will be required to sell alcohol, Gomillion said, and this new rule may increase revenue for PARD, though he said that wasn’t the deciding factor in making the switch. By the end of June, the department had collected less than half of its budgeted General Fund revenue, according to the PARD director’s report.

In the midst of this decision, the Save Historic Muny District is negotiating an interlocal agreement with PARD, the city and the University of Texas to run concessions at Lions Municipal Golf Course. The historic district regularly raises money for the course’s upkeep and the agreement would allow Save Muny to subcontract vendors to provide food and drink at the golf course and sell Save Muny merchandise on the property. Gomillion said this agreement is unrelated to the BYOB policy decision.

Save Historic Muny District was created by the 86th Texas Legislature in 2019 to preserve the historic golf course and is a separate entity from the local Austin organization Save Muny Conservancy, which raises money to purchase the land the course sits on from UT Austin. UT leases the land to the city for use as a golf course, but is currently considering other permanent uses for the land. The lease agreement has extended to December.

Mary Arnold, chair of the historic district, said taking over management of concessions at Lions is just one way the district “can aid in assuring that the course remains,” though not necessarily to raise funds to buy the course.

“Aiding the city of Austin in seeking a food/beverage vendor for the course is one service that the district can offer, always keeping in mind its ultimate goal as approved by the Texas Legislature,” Arnold said in an email. “Funds raised through a food/beverage concession at Lions Municipal will certainly go to good use at the course.”

When submitted to the parks department’s consent agenda by the concessions commission, the contract recommendation passed unanimously at the PARD board meeting Wednesday, recommending it to City Council. If it passes, the agreement will extend until the lease ends or the course is sold.

The PARD Golf Division is working to secure concessions contracts for other courses as well, although the recently reopened golf courses are currently serving limited to no concessions.

Photo by Larry D. Moore/CC BY-SA 4.0.

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City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department: The city department responsible for the city's park system, rec centers, and associated infrastructure.

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