Jeremy Barnard stands near the Rio Grande River in Brownsville, Texas. If the federal government builds a wall along the border, Barnard and his family could lose more than 80 percent of River Bend Resort & Golf Club. (Courtesy of River Bend Resort & Golf Club) Fifteen of the 18 holes at River Bend Resort & Golf Club in Brownsville, Texas, could be casualties if a proposed wall is built along the Texas-Mexico border.  (Courtesy of River Bend Resort & Golf Club) The Barnard Family bought River Bend Resort & Golf Club in Brownsville, Texas, two years ago. (Courtesy of River Bend Resort & Golf Club)

President Trump's border wall plan could become an immovable obstruction for Brownsville golf course

With all the debate about whether or not the United States needs a wall to increase security along the Mexican and U.S. border, one thing that isn't talked about much is how it would affect those who live along the border on the U.S. side.

In the case of one South Texas family, a proposed wall would have dire consequences, especially to the family business -- River Bend Resort & Country Club in Brownsville, Texas.

15 of the 18 holes of this 6,825-yard par 72 golf course that opened in 1985 would be on the south side of the wall. While still on U.S. soil, that part of the course is on the Rio Grande levee. The section includes some 200 homes, and the land on which they sit would be claimed by the federal government under eminent domain to complete the wall project. Essentially, that would mean an end to the golf course as well as displacing hundreds of people. Here’s an aerial view of the 12th and 13th holes at River Bend Resort & Golf Club. The holes would be two of the 15 lost if the proposed border wall is built through the property:

Video: The 12th and 13th holes at River Bend along the Rio Grande

Jeremy Barnard, part owner and general manager of River Bend Resort & Golf Club, located at the southern tip of Texas near South Padre Island, doesn't know what will ultimately happen – whether the wall gets built or not -- but his concerns are understandable. And he's invited President Trump, who proposed the wall in his presidential campaign (promising that Mexico would pay for it), to come out and play his golf course and get back to him.

"We would like to get him down here," said Barnard, who grew up playing the course his family wound up buying two years ago. "He's a golfer, and he owns golf courses. How would he like to be treated? 'What would you do if you owned this course,' I'd ask him."

In other words, Barnard just wants to be heard. He said if the president still wants to do it after hearing his family's case, then he would support him.

Green fees for River Bend are $25-30 for 18 holes with a cart. Annual memberships are under $3,000. RV rental spots onsite make it an affordable vacation destination in Texas.

Barnard isn't sure that wall will ever be constructed, but he is taking precautions. The family has retained an attorney to make sure that they are treated fairly during the process if plans for the wall come to fruition.

If the wall is built, Barnard doesn't believe it will be continuous along the border between states like Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. He thinks it will be constructed in the more remote areas where surveillance is much more difficult.

Back in 2007, a fence authorized by the Bush Administration was built along the Texas-Mexico border near his golf course. The fence stops at the course and starts again on the other side. And to help control illegal crossings along the golf course, the family completed a sample project that cleared the banks of the Rio Grande River, which makes it more difficult for illegals to hide while crossing.

That visibility, Barnard believes, has cut down on the number of illegal crossings near his golf course, and would be a good solution instead of putting a wall between him and most of his golf course and displacing friends and families near the river.

This isn't the first time a border town golf course has been affected by security concerns. In 2015, Brownsville's Fort Brown Memorial Golf Course closed after a steady decline in play following the completion of the border fence.

May 18, 2017

Join the conversation

Post a comment 

sailpgd's avatar
sailpgd wrote at 2017-05-24 18:09:52+00:00:

Yeah, let's keep the border wide open for anyone who wants to come here for a golf course. The lengths people go to in order to criticize our president is remarkable. 

Related Links

Mike Bailey

Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in the Houston area. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 20 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @Accidentlgolfer.