Rub of the Green 

Golf course at T.O. Fuller State Park scheduled to close this fall.


T.O. Fuller State Park in South Memphis may have been the second designated African-American state park in the United States, but that historical distinction doesn't seem to be enough to save its golf course from the chopping block.

The 75-acre golf course at T.O. Fuller is facing closure for the second time in two years, thanks to state budget cuts. The course is due to close in September.

Unhappy with the planned closure, the Friends of T.O. Fuller State Park, a nonprofit organization advocating for the park and golf course, has scheduled a rally for Wednesday, July 20th, at 6 p.m. at the park's baseball field.

"We hope people contact their elected officials and ask them to go back to the drawing board," said Ralph Thompson, president of Friends of T.O. Fuller State Park. "We're asking for fairness."

Built in 1937, T.O. Fuller State Park at 1500 West Mitchell was the second state park in the country created for African Americans, and it's one of two historically black parks in Tennessee. The golf course, added in 1954, was threatened with closure last year, but the state legislature and Governor Phil Bredesen negotiated to keep the course in the budget.

If the golf course is closed this fall, its eight employees will face termination. The course's five permanent full-time employees will have first preference for state job openings they qualify for, while the other three full-time seasonal employees will be out of luck.

Meg Lockhart, deputy communications director for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said the 2011 state budget does not include funds to subsidize the course due to ongoing budget constraints.

"With public funds unavailable, the department must make difficult decisions in order to keep revenue-generating operations, which include golf courses, inns, cabins, marinas, restaurants, and campgrounds, self-sufficient when taken as a whole across the state park system," Lockhart said.

According to Lockhart, from 2009 to 2010, the park posted a net loss of $298,483.

Lockhart said the department is open to lease agreements to bring another operator in to keep the course open, but there hasn't been an agreement secured.

The course is scheduled to close on September 18th, after the current golf season. The land will remain part of the park, which won't be affected in the decision.

Thompson said they've talked to elected officials, requesting they keep the park's golf course open, but efforts have fallen on deaf ears.

"This is a historic golf course and park, but the state is looking at it from an economic side," Thompson said. "We're looking at the economics and the historic value of it."

Thompson said he hopes that the golf course will stay in business. If closed, he fears the park may be next to go.

"The first thing I think about is the people who are going to lose their jobs," Thompson said. "The second thing I think about is, what are the alternatives to what they're doing now? We need to have some way to work this out, where the course and the park can stay open. There's a feeling that if you close the golf course down, the revenue-generating side, you're going to lose the park in short order."

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

    • Creative Process

      Memphis Brooks Museum of Art leader talks about the decision to consider leaving Overton Park.
    • Fun Money

      Locals, tourists invest in good times here.


News Blog

Supreme Court Steps In on Fayette Church Matter

Intermission Impossible

Muhammad Ali Meets Stepin Fetchit at The Hattiloo Theatre

News Blog

Task Force Considers Medical Cannabis

News Blog

Trolleys Return to the Tracks for Testing

Music Blog

Jessi Zazu: In Memoriam

Beyond the Arc

Deflections: The Roster, TV Angst, and The Buy/Sell Clause

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

The Vietnam War

We Saw You

Cooper-Young Fest, Big Bugs, Art of Caring

Music Blog

Linda Heck: Bound to ExCITM tonight

Intermission Impossible

A Memory of Charles Billings


More by Louis Goggans

  • Partners in Rhyme

    Starlito & Don Trip: artistic “stepbrothers” and collaborators.
    • Mar 13, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation