Lafortune's public golf course has a new look
Lafortune Park course, which opened in the 1960s, was renovated in October 2018.
The Lafortune Park course today. It was renovated in October 2018.
Amid the multitude of new sights and places of interest in Tulsa, LaFortune Park remains an essential landmark. With over 270 acres in midtown, the county park features walking and jogging trails, picnic areas, a community center, playgrounds and its iconic golf course. The latter is comprised of two 18-hole courses, the Champion Course and the par-3 course.
“In the ’60s, this was on the outskirts of town,” says Pat McCrate, director of golf for LaFortune Park.
The first nine holes of the par-3 course originally opened in 1963 and expanded to include 18 holes by 1966. As part of LaFortune’s Vision 2025 project, a $3 million renovation of the turf, accessibility and lighting were completed in October 2018.
Local architect Randy Heckenkemper designed the course renovation. “One of the responsible things was to do as much as possible to make sure that a ball wouldn’t go off the property by adjusting the angles,” says McCrate of Heckenkemper’s design. “Almost all of the holes used to all run north and south, but now most run diagonally. It’s a completely different hole with modernized greens.”
Although the park and the golf course have undergone many expansions and improvements, McCrate says it has remained recognizable through the years.
New lighting around the par-3 course allows golfers to play later than they could at many courses. “I don’t know of another lighted course like this in Oklahoma — there aren’t many in the country,” McCrate says. “Since the renovation, attendance has resurged. I’m very proud that this is Tulsa’s public golf course. It’s a good place for kids, for adults, for everyone.”
Growing up with the sport, McCrate describes himself as a product of public golf and is proud of LaFortune’s efforts to bring the sport to Tulsans. “We wanted to encourage people to learn how to play, so we instituted a free club rental policy,” he says. “If one of your excuses is that you don’t have clubs, we’re taking that away. We want Tulsans to learn the sport. It’s a game you can take with you for life.”