Murray Parkway Golf Course ready to roll into another busy summer season
May 24, 2018 01:08PM
By Carl Fauver
During the summer months, the Murray Parkway Golf Course is open 16 hours a day. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
Murray Parkway Golf Course head professional John Pearson has been calling that patch of grass — north of Winchester Street and east of the Jordan River — his home away from home, since long before there were any fairways, tees and putting greens.
“When I was a kid we used to train our pheasant hunting dogs down here,” Pearson said. “And now I’ve worked here at the course since the year after it opened.”
It was July 1986 when Murray’s only municipally-owned golf course got its start. Fourteen years later it was renamed the Lynn F. Pett Murray Parkway Golf Course, in honor of the city’s mayor from 1990 to 1998. Before becoming mayor himself, Lynn was an executive assistant to Murray Mayor Lavar McMillan (1986-89).
“Lynn was instrumental in helping to acquire this property and in creating this golf course,” Pearson added. “I will always be very grateful to him, and to the golf pro who proceeded me — and gave me my first job here — Gary Healy.”
Now that their summer season is arriving, the Parkway will be bustling with activity up to 16 hours a day, during its 33rd year of operation.
“We typically host well over 200 golfers a day during the summer,” Pearson said. “People start teeing off as early as 5:30 in the morning, and go until it’s too dark to see, 9:30 at night. Our tee times go off every eight minutes. On at least one day last summer we had 300 golfers.”
The Murray Parkway Course keeps its 150 acres and 6,900 yards of golf attractive and green in a unique way. Course Superintendent David Carruth has been in charge of maintaining it for 22 years.
“When this course was built, it was designed to capture (rainwater) runoff from a large area,” he said. “Water flows to us from as far east as Highland Drive. It runs through pipes below I-215. When it runs through there, rain from the belt route is also captured. All of that runoff accounts for about 85 percent of the water we use.”
Carruth said the Murray Parkway Golf Course irrigation system is so unique and well-respected, it has received awards from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“Our excess water flows directly into the Jordan River,” he added. “It’s a very efficient system, and we’re proud of it.”
While keeping the grass well irrigated is not a problem at the course, there is a different one — a problem that follows a nationwide trend.
“Our number of golf rounds have gone down in recent years, just as they have everywhere in the country,” Pearson said. “The younger generation just isn’t playing as much as they have in the past. We have nearly always turned a profit here at the course, but not in recent years.”
Despite that trend however, Pearson said he has not heard any talk of closing the course.
“We are still one of the busiest golf courses in Utah, so I don’t think that will happen,” he said.
In recent years — to help boost golfer numbers — the course has begun hosting men’s and women’s league play. Men’s league play is held Tuesdays and Thursdays. In 10 years, participation has grown from 45 league members to about 350.
The women’s league plays on Mondays, under coordinator Tricia Cooke.
“We started six years ago with 35 women in the league and this year we will go over 100 for the first time,” Cooke said. “We charge each woman $35 to participate, but all of that goes back to them with our end of the year banquet, trophies and other prizes.”
On the men’s side, 1978 Murray High School graduate Deno Roumpos is a league regular. He’s also the de facto president of the “Golf Pro John Pearson Fan Club.”
“(Pearson) has turned our league tournaments into a huge success,” Roumpos said. “The staff gathers prize donations and we have tournaments that outdraw private country club tournaments all over the state. That’s incredible for a little municipal course, and it’s all due to John and his staff.”
Finally, the course is also home to the Eagle Café, independently leased to and operated by Bryan Gonzales.
“I have made so many lifelong friends in my 31 years working here,” Pearson concluded. “Our golfers grow very close to one another. And there’s always room for new people as well.”
For more information about Murray Parkway Golf Course costs and tee times, call 801-262-4653.