Butler Park Pitch & Putt changes operators

The iconic Butler Park Pitch & Putt is now under new management. 

After controversy involving a missing signature on paperwork, the family who helped start the course is handing over the keys. 

“I loved my time here this is really a big part of my identity, a big part of my life, but you know things change,” said Lee Kinser. 

The iconic South Austin course was founded by Kinser's family more than 70 years ago. 

“My father and I worked here together for a long time until 2000 when I took over,” said Kinser.

Monday marked the last day for Kinser to operate the Pitch & Putt. 

“I'll miss it. One window closes another one opens,” said Kinser. 

Dozens of people showed up to the park to hang out, eat, and have one more tournament, all to make sure her goodbye would be a hole in one. 

“That's been the silver lining,” Kinser said. “I’ve had so many people tell me they appreciated what I’ve done for the community and how much it has meant to them.”

Kinser spent Monday going through old pictures and filling a time capsule for the park as the keys get handed off to Pecan Grove Partners. 

“I wish them good luck,” said Kinser. 

The change in operators was met with some controversy earlier this year. The course is on city property and with the contract coming to an end, the Parks and Recreation board opened it up for companies to apply for ownership by detailing improvement plans. Kinser was left out of that process after forgetting a signature on the paperwork.

While Monday is the last day for Kinser, it isn't the last day for golfing at the park. According to the Parks Department, whoever manages the park must keep golf, and they must keep it affordable. 

Regulars at the course, like Casey Amsler, are hopeful not too much about the park changes. 

“I would like to keep the kind of freedom and independence of the park, it's obviously a place where people can come and be themselves,” said Amsler. 

For Kinser, she hope the course doesn't lose its old Austin feel, something she said you see less of everyday across the city.

Kinser says she will be retiring.

While Pecan Grove Partners have not released their plans for the course, at a Parks board meeting over the summer, they did say they wanted to keep the course accessible.