The legacy of Ballinger Golf Course

More than a half century ago, Lake Ballinger Golf Course was a fledgling nine-hole layout near the southern edge of Snohomish County.

Tucked along the north shoreline of Lake Ballinger, the course catered largely to seniors, youngsters, beginners and nearby residents who enjoyed the convenience of a modest, moderately priced golfing venue.

One of the early customers was Jan Japar, who later operated Lake Ballinger GC for many years with business partner Mimi Racicot. But as a younger girl, Japar recalled, “that’s where I learned to play golf.”

For golfers who lived in south Snohomish County back then — before nearby courses such as Lynnwood Golf Course, Walter Hall Golf Course and Harbour Pointe Golf Course opened for public play — Lake Ballinger GC was a convenient and relatively inexpensive golfing option.

But the course also had frequent problems. During the rainy months, the fairways were often soggy, sometimes swampy. And for many years the owners and operators struggled to make money.

Financial problems that became more pronounced during the economic downturn of the past decade — which in turn triggered a corresponding downturn in the golf industry — led to the recent decision to close Mountlake Terrace-owned Lake Ballinger GC.

Former operators Tyrone and Carol Hardy stepped away from their lease agreement with the city in November and the course was closed. Earlier this month, Mountlake Terrace announced plans to turn the property into a passive park with trails, interpretive signs and picnicking facilities.

Japar understands the demise.

The golf course “was always a tough property,” said Japar, who was a Lake Ballinger employee from 1974 to 1979, and then took over management of the course with Racicot from 1979 to 2004. “It’s sad, but it’s not a surprise.

“Everything was always so difficult there,” she said. “I think we had only a few years where we made any money at all.”

Lake Ballinger GC (which in later years was known as Ballinger Lake Golf Course), added a new clubhouse in 1989. The course itself underwent a major renovation in 1999, becoming “a totally brand new layout,” Japar said. “There was not one piece of dirt that didn’t get turned over.”

But in the end, she said, “there were probably too many improvements for what the property could handle. And then the (slumping) economy kind of sunk it.”

More in Sports

Wesco and Cascade Conference athletes honored

Check out the 2017 all-conference teams.

Trump: NFL should suspend Oakland Raiders’ Marshawn Lynch

He sat during most of the U.S. anthem and stood for the Mexican anthem before a game in Mexico City.

3 local basketball coaches will be inducted in Hall of Fame

The Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association will honor the coaches in July.

Seahawks vs. Falcons inactives: Brown plays, Rawls scratched

Seattle will have its starting left tackle Duane Brown (ankle), but running back Thomas Rawls sits.

Prep athletes of the week for 11/13-11/18

Football Dillon Halpin, Archbishop Murphy Halpin, a junior, returned a fumble 80… Continue reading

Regina’s Tyler Brown stops a shot with Everett’s Matt Fonteyne looking on Sunday afternoon at Xfintiy Arena in Everett on November 19, 2017. Everett lost 2-1.(Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Regina narrowly escapes with a 2-1 win over Silvertips

A shot by Everett’s Matt Fonteyne’s bounces off the post in the final seconds

Falcons set to test Seattle’s ‘Legion of Backups’

Playing without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor is “new territory” for the Seahawks.

No playoff berth at stake, but Apple Cup has plenty to offer

Huskies’ dramatic win over Utah sets the stage for the state’s annual Pac-12 showdown

All-conference high school football teams

The 2017 all-conference teams for Wesco 4A, Wesco 3A and the Cascade Conference

Most Read