Potential border wall could split family-owned golf course

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - A family-owned golf course in Texas is right in the path of the proposed US/Mexico border wall, and they have an invitation for the president.

"15 of the 18 holes would be on the south side of the wall, says Jeremy Barnard, owner of Riverbend Resort & Golf Club. "And so I joke with people that they're going to need a passport to play the back half of the course."

Jeremy Barnard may be laughing but the idea of the golf course he manages being split by a border wall, isn't so funny. For him, it's personal.

"I was born and raised in this area. We grew up playing this course," Barnard says. "We'd sit up here after playing this beautiful course and be like man we got to buy this course one day, it's just beautiful."

Two years ago, his family did.

"My dad and uncle own it," Barnard says. "I am the GM. My brother-in-law is head of maintenance. My cousin works in maintenance. Grandma lives on fairway one. My aunt lives on fairway 18."

So the border wall wouldn't just be dividing their business but their family dream.

"We're not some big corporation that we own 18 golf courses or something like that," Barnard says. "This is just a family business and we're trying to make a living out here."

If plans go through, Barnard says 70 percent of the more than 300 acre golf resort would be on the south side of the wall. That's 15 of the 18 golf holes and 200 of the nearly 350 homes.

"The golf course industry is hard enough as it is," Barnard says. "And the numbers are so tight you have to do enough rounds that to now throw in another variable becomes very difficult."

And Barnard may have to scrap his one million dollar expansion plans for new housing.

He acknowledges there are security issues but says there are better ways to support the work border patrol is doing than building a wall.

"We've done a sample project here where we've cleared the banks of the Rio Grande River," Barnard explains.

Barnard paid for it out of his own pocket and says he hasn't seen illegal activity in months.

"Stuff like this increases the visibility of the border and gets a lot less hiding spots," Barnard believes. "It really creates a safer environment because there's nowhere to hide."

While he doesn't have all the answers, he's pretty clear about what he wants to happen next.

"I have an open invitation to President Trump," Barnard says. "Come play the golf course. Come see what we are doing here. And let's have a conversation. And if at the end of the conversation you still think a wall is what is necessary then OK we will support you."

A decision that would change the game as they know it.

 

 

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