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

WSU defensive lineman voted a first-team All-American

Washington’s Pettis and WSU’s O’Connell make the second team; UW’s Vea earns a spot on the third team

Community roundup: Local runners help win a national title

Club Northwest won the Men’s Masters division at the USATF National Club Cross Country Championships

It’s official: NL MVP Stanton now slugging for the Yankees

The Yankees announce they have acquired the slugger from the Marlins in a four-player deal

VIDEO: An introduction to competitive orienteering

Several Snohomish County high schools compete in the Washington Interscholastic Orienteering League.

BLOG: Carter Hart named WHL Goalie of the Week (yes, again)

Carter Hart has been named the WHL Goaltender of the Week for… Continue reading

An ugly ending as Seahawks lose to Jaguars, 30-24

The other bad news: The Jacksonville Jaguars intercepted Russell Wilson three times.

All Cs and Ds: Grading the Seahawks in loss to Jaguars

Seattle’s defensive unit earns one of its lowest marks of the season.

Seahawks gave the Jaguars a scare in the fourth quarter

Down 27-10, Seattle rallied with a pair of long touchdown passes.

Silvertips run their winning streak to nine straight

Bryce Kindopp scores the winning goal with 18 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Tri-City

Most Read