The Fort Brown Memorial Golf Course in Brownsville, Texas, was shut down several years after the border fence was erected across a portion of the former owner’s property, the paper reported.
The paper lamented the closing of the course saying, “It remains to be seen whether President Trump will be successful in delivering on his campaign promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, but such a barrier has already made this historic golf course in Texas’ deepest south unworkable and doomed.”
The fence was erected after the passing of the Secure Fence Act passed in 2006, long before Donald Trump jumped into politics.
“I had a business, the community had a place people could meet and socialize and enjoy life, and golf had an affordable spot,” the course’s former owner, Bob Lucio, told USA TODAY Sports. “Now it is like it never even existed.”
Lucio added that he began losing customers in 2009 when the government began to erect the fence on his property which butted up against the Rio Grande River.
“The government did what they did — they forced it on everybody,” Lucio told the paper. “In 2009 they actually started building the fence. It hurt our business right away. We slowly started to lose our membership.”
While USA Today focused heavily on the U.S. government as the reason the golf course finally closed in 2015, there was one other hint tucked down in the article.
Some customers stopped going to the golf course because, “they could sometimes hear gunfire from a drug cartel turf war raging on the Matamoros side.” From the article, “I didn’t know what war sounded like. I never went to war,” former member Bob Prepejchal said, remembering a wild Thursday afternoon when a peaceful round was interrupted by sounds of carnage. “When the (Mexican military) helicopters (were) flying and hovering over and let go of these rockets, it was unbelievable what it sounded like. Then there are those electronic Gatling guns … they were just raining down shells like crazy, and it went on for a while.”
Along with the drug war came skyrocketing insurance costs for his golf course and it all eventually forced him to declare bankruptcy.
Despite the drug gangs chasing customers away and the impossibly expensive insurance costs, the paper and the course owner felt it was all more about politics.
“I don’t get it,” Lucio said. “I didn’t get it then, and I still don’t. I have lived here all my life, and we used to celebrate our joint history with Mexico. When I put my time into the course, it was because I thought I’d be here forever.”