Name game: Golf switch brings flak

Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — Some have been sounding off the dissatisfaction of the new name of the local municipal golf course.

It’s been expressed on social media and in casual conversation that changing Jasper Municipal Golf Course to Buffalo Trace Golf Course, a decision that was announced at a Jasper Park Board meeting Tuesday, is a bad choice, unnecessary and irrelevant to the area.

Officials expected some backlash.

“I don’t care what you name it — you will not make everyone happy,” said Jasper Councilman Kevin Manley, executive director of the Dubois County Tourism & Visitors Center. “The local people will continue to call it Muni. But this is for marketing the golf course outside our area.”

Park Director Ken Buck agreed. He said he has heard from a few people who liked the new name as well as a couple who didn’t like it. He’s also noticed the plethora of comments on social media from people bashing the name.

“But we get that about everything we do. Some people like it and some don’t,” he said. “We knew that whatever we changed the name to wouldn’t make everyone happy.”

The five-member committee that selected the name consisted of Buck and another member of the park and recreation staff as well as members of the park board, tourism commission and the mayor’s office; some of them play golf on the course. Buck didn’t share their names because he didn’t want the volunteers to be harassed.

The committee reviewed the 168 suggestions submitted by the public for a naming contest. Each member selected from the list five or six names as the top choices. The top suggestions were discussed, and the committee noticed Buffalo Trace on four of five lists. No other name made that many lists.

“We talked about the names. Some of the committee members mentioned the significance of the Buffalo Trace to the area,” Buck said. “I wasn’t aware before of how the buffalo roamed through here before Jasper was formed and before Indiana was a state.”

The role buffalo migration played in getting settlers to this area was the reason Phil Volz of Jasper submitted the name into the contest.

“The golf course lays close to Buffalo Run Creek, which is around Buffalo Flats,” Volz said. “The buffalo migration route from Louisville to Vincennes is what helped the settlers get here.”
Buffalo Trace was a path created by migrating bison from the Ohio River to the Wabash River near Vincennes.

Early settlers used the trace as early as the 1700s to travel west. The trace weaved through the northern part Dubois County well before county or state boundaries were established. Buffalo also frequented the creek in the area known as Buffalo Flats, which is near Kellerville Road and Cathy Lane, just east of the golf course’s back nine.

“It’s part of the history of the area,” said Volz, who won a $50 gift certificate to use at Buffalo Trace or Ruxer Golf Course as a prize for creating the winning name. “I submitted the name for the historical aspect of it.”

That historical significance is why the committee, and ultimately the Jasper Park Board, signed off on the Buffalo Trace name, Buck said.

The word buffalo appeared in at least five submissions — Buffalo Trace, Buffalo Trail, Buffalo Park, Buffalo Run and Buffalo Hills. Some other suggestions were Bainbridge Hills, Patoka Hills, Wood Capital and The Narrows of Jasper, which was in reference to the course’s narrow fairways.

A few names based on the community’s German heritage were also submitted. That list included Black Forest, Pfaffenweiler Course, German Village Course and Deutsche Golf Klub Haus, which the submitter said is translated as German golf clubhouse. Someone submitted the name Edelweiss, which is a white flower found in the Alps as well as the name of a song in the musical “Sound of Music.”

“We had a good discussion about this,” Buck said. “We gave people a chance to submit suggestions.”

People in the public have wondered aloud if there will be some confusion of the course’s new name with the Boy Scouts’ Buffalo Trace Council or Buffalo Trace bourbon made in Kentucky.

Buck didn’t think that would be a problem. The Buffalo Trace Council moved west of this area in the late 1980s, he said. And he’d never heard of Buffalo Trace bourbon and didn’t think people would confuse a golf course with an alcoholic beverage. The park department researched possible copyright issues,but could not find any copyright for the name, Buck said.

The department is working on creating a logo so signs, flags and other identifying markers can be altered.

Manley said he will begin using the new name this weekend when he attends a golf show convention in Louisville.

“We have banners with the new name that we’ll use,” he said.

The tourism department will visit six golf shows this year — in Louisville, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Mich., and Novi, Mich.

“When golfers hear the name ”˜municipal,’ they think it’s a lesser course and less expensive,” Manley said. “When they do golf trips, they don’t want to play at golf courses they think are of a lesser quality.

“It’s a perception. We don’t want our course to have that perception, because it’s so much nicer. It’s one of the nicest city-owned golf course I’ve ever played. I’d put our golf course up against any course, and we have to market it that way.”

Manley also noted that many golf courses owned by municipalities have shed the municipal moniker.
“We have one of the finest courses in the region, probably in the state,” Buck said. “But we know there could be improvements. We know we need a new pro shop. But money is tight, so we haven’t been able to do that.”

Buck hopes the marketing will help bring more business to the course.

“We hope to get more players and maybe make more money to get that new pro shop,” Buck said. “Golfing has been down so many years. We want to do what we can to boost that for our course.”
Both said they know the name will not change for the locals.

“We know people are still going to call it the Muni or the Jasper Muni,” Buck said. “They’ve played it for years. That’s what they are used to.”

Contact Candy Neal at

More on