City decommissions Ruxer Golf CourseMay 13, 2020
By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — A longtime Jasper training ground for youth and beginner golfers has closed for good.
Ruxer Golf Course was officially decommissioned by the Jasper Park & Recreation Board on Tuesday evening. The nine-hole course and driving range will not reopen for play. And the future of the property remains to be determined.
Located on Clay Street land donated to the city by Alvin Ruxer, the grounds are plagued by flooding issues annually. Ruxer didn’t open until July 12 in 2019 — the latest its season had started during John Bertges’ six-year tenure as the city’s golf director.
“But the bottom line is, it’s just the supply and demand,” Roger Seger, the park and recreation board’s president, said after Tuesday’s board meeting. “It just didn’t stay open enough during the year to warrant putting that type of money into the course.”
He explained that the board had long examined the future of the facility. Flooding problems increased every year, Seger said, while the amount of time that the course was open continued to decrease.
Bertges is sad to see Ruxer go. He detailed how crucial the course is to game development for less-experienced players, saying that other area courses are more challenging and not designed for that level of play.
“Without that particular course, there is really no option for the younger kids to play golf in Dubois County,” he said, adding that while nearby Sultan’s Run Golf Club and Buffalo Trace Golf Course are both great venues, “neither one of those courses, as is, is a good stepping stone for players that have never been introduced to the game, or youth below a certain level.”
He does understand, though, the financial concerns and limitations that ultimately led to Ruxer’s undoing. Bertges hopes that Buffalo Trace — which is also owned and operated by the city — can be transformed to meet the needs of the golfing community.
“I do believe that we can make improvements out there,” he explained. This could possibly be done, he said, by introducing more forward tees and a full-length driving range, or utilizing available land adjacent to the 18-hole course for a shorter course.
Seger also said that Ruxer was a “great practice facility for the youth,” and that ultimately closing it was not an easy decision. He said changes will be made at Buffalo Trace for novice golfers.
The future of the Ruxer property is now in the hands of the Jasper Common Council. A potential sale of the course was discussed briefly at that group’s annual public budget hearings in August, and at that time, Mayor Dean Vonderheide said a possible buyer had “expressed an interest for the potential for future golf business” at the nine-hole course. That didn’t work out.
Vonderheide said during Tuesday’s board meeting that the council will now look at the next steps necessary to make the best use of the non-operating property.
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