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

Results of Cortez Kennedy’s autopsy released

Medical examiner: Former Seahawk and Pro Football Hall of Famer died of ‘congestive heart failure’

Hall-of-Fame voter says Edgar Martinez worthy of induction

The Mariner great is one of 10 players ex-Herald baseball writer Kirby Arnold voted for this year

Jr. Silvertips try to nail down league title

Everett’s 16U midget team can clinch the crown this weekend in Minnesota.

NHL wants Seattle, but is the Emerald City a hockey town?

Seattle is the biggest market in the country without a winter sports team.

Police will not release suicide note in Hilinski’s death

Police say the WSU quarterback shot himself last week in his apartment

Sounders loan midfielder Aaron Kover to Los Angeles FC

The Garfield High School graduate appeared in 44 games over four season with Seattle

‘Braveheart’ helps UW men’s basketball salvage road trip

The film rejuvenated the Huskies, who beat Colorado on Saturday after Thursday’s loss at Utah.

Monroe High’s Monique Fierke looks for the basket during drills at practice on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 in Monroe, Wa. Fierke is the leading scorer for the Bearcats. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Q&A with Monroe’s Monique Fierke

It didn’t take long for Monique Fierke to make a good impression… Continue reading

Monday’s prep stars of the night

Paris Smith, Cascade bowling Smith, a junior, rolled a 383 series with… Continue reading

Most Read