Prairie Restoration Partnership Project
We are committed to putting the “Meadow” back in Meadow Park! As a result you’ll find that the out of play areas are maintained at a greater height than most courses. This purposeful approach to course operations results in the use of less water, pesticides, herbicides and reduced emissions as a result of decreased mowing.
It also provides important plant and animal habitat. Together we are re-introducing species such as Camas, Lupine, Western Red Columbine and species of concern, Aster Curtis. As part of the greater effort, we also house salvage plant materials to help the Alliance propagate additional vegetation within our open naturalized area for use in other prairie restoration projects throughout the county.
Partner: Native Plant Salvage Alliance
Community Support: REI, Tacoma Community College, Washington Conservation Corps, Washington Native Plant Society and Green Tacoma Partnership
Natural Lawns Partnership Program
Our employees turned the clubhouse lawns into a demo area to help educate visitors about organic fertilizers and provide an opportunity to assess the differences between lawns that have been fertilized with Tagro, Sound Gro, Walt’s Fertilizer, Pierce County Prep Compost and a sulfur coated urea, a slow release inorganic fertilizer.
Partner: Pierce County Health Department
Students Partnering to Learn More About Birds
Meadow Park serves as a valuable outdoor laboratory for Mt. Tahoma High School juniors and seniors, who build and install birdhouses at the park where they can conduct real life studies. Meadow Park Golf Course and The Tahoma Audubon Society hosted a Birdathon where 22 different species of birds were observed.
Pilot Test Bio Retention Cell
The system is designed to provide low impact golf cart wash rack facilities which allow for water treatment and filtration back through the ground naturally.
Salmon Safe Program
Located along Leach Creek, Meadow Park was selected by Stewardship Partners’ “Salmon Safe Program” as one of three golf courses to help develop a pilot program for sustainable environmental practices.
Audubon International Certification
Last year, Golf Course Manager Chris Goodman applied to complete Audubon International’s Certification for Golf Courses. We have already earned our Water Conservation certification and staff members are now working on Water Quality, Wildlife Habitat, Chemical Use and Outreach & Education certification. We expect to complete all modules for full certification within the next year.
The first nine holes of what was then an 18-hole course opened for play Nov. 14, 1915, about six months after the first municipal course opened in Seattle. Back then, what is now one of Metro Parks’ South Tacoma treasures was a privately owned operation. In contrast to the country clubs where membership was required and exclusivity reigned, Meadow Park was the first course in Tacoma open to the public. From the get-go, Meadow Park was promoted as a course unrestricted by the men’s club tradition prevalent elsewhere.
This egalitarian policy endured and grew over the years, including after the course came under Metro Parks governance in 1961. In that year, when the Metro Parks board held a public hearing about future course management, one African-American golfer declared that Meadow Park was the only course in the area that allowed him to participate in tournaments.
Now, course superintendent Chris Goodman and the rest of the Meadow Park crew pride themselves on nurturing young players, providing access and support for players with special needs, and embracing innovations.
Plans for the original Meadow Park course were first publicized in September 1915 in The Daily Ledger, a granddaddy of what is now The News Tribune. An advertisement published on opening day touted the inclusive nature of the place. It proclaimed: “Ladies May Play Any Day in the Week.” This broke from the routine at most private courses that dominated the golf world at that time. Typically, private golf clubs only permitted women golfers on specified days. A trophy from a 1917 Meadow Park women’s tournament is included in a collection of artifacts.
In 1915, the driving forces behind the new course were partners W.F. Jowders and W.B. Beal, who had purchased 165 acres north of a street car line in what was then known as the Manitou neighborhood. To design the links, they hired architect John Ball, who also created courses in Aberdeen, Seattle and Everett. Among other amenities, Meadow Park featured grass putting greens, which were relatively rare among area links at that time, Jowders told the newspaper.
“The face that we are within the city limits is another thing that should find favor in the eyes of golfers who have not the time to make longer trips,” he said.
The plan was to build a club house within 300 feet of the street car station. From Tacoma, passengers rode the American Lake car to the city limits. The cost: 5 cents.
It’s a reminder of how the value of money has changed. In another advertisement, announcing the opening of the entire, 18-hole course, golfers were invited to sign up for annual tickets, covering green fees, plus access to the clubhouse and locker rooms starting in January 1916. How much? Twelve dollars. A single, 18-hole game cost 25 cents.
Male golfers donned newsboy-style caps, shirts and ties, knickers and knee socks. Women wore long skirts or dresses and hats. Steel-shafted clubs were not introduced until the 1920s, so the stems were shaped from a hardwood called hickory.
It’s a style of play that’s been enjoying a revival of sorts. Many hickory golf enthusiasts enjoy dressing the part and using vintage gear, including a softer, more pliable ball typical of the era. Meadow Park rents sets of antique, Scottish clubs to golfers who’d like to try them.
Meadow Park always has been a public course, but its ownership changed several times before Metro Parks bought it for $250,000 in 1961. The previous year, fire had destroyed the clubhouse. Eventually, a replacement was opened. The present 27-hole facility includes a nine-hole course named after J. Ralph Williams, the Metro Parks commissioner and golf enthusiast who negotiated the acquisition.
This Aug. 22, 1920 issue of the Tacoma Sunday Ledger includes some great shots of the club house, fourth hole and putting on the second green. “. . . a party from the Templar Motor Car Company and a Ledger representative motored to the golf links at Meadow Park in a Templar Sportette to prove the reliability of the model for sport use.”
The club house pictured in this Feb. 12, 1922 issue of The Tacoma Sunday Ledger burned down in 1960. A new club house was built from old surplus army barracks cobbled together.
Now you can have the 1915 Hickory Experience
Meadow Park Golf course now offers an opportunity to celebrate history and experience a small piece of golf’s classic tradition by playing with century-old hickory clubs from Scotland.
Parking: There are 6 designated accessible parking stalls on site with an accessible route to the entry plaza.
Entrance: The entry plaza leads to the Pro Shop, Restaurant, and Restroom entrances. Doors to these facilities are not automated, yet require less than 8lb of pressure to open. The entry plaza is paved.
Route: There is a 36″ + wide accessible route through the pro shop, to the restroom, and to the restaurant landing; all spaces include turnaround space. The route to the driving range, and putting green/chipping green viewing is paved. The golf course is accessible by single-rider cart available at the Pro Shop. 48″ golf cart passage through/to all golf course activity stations is provided.
Assistance: Most customer materials are within the 15-48″ reach range. Staff is available to provide assistance with out of reach items, particularly in the Pro Shop.
Specialized Equipment: Equipment and greens fees are paid in the Pro Shop. The single-rider cart, when requested, is brought to the entry plaza. Reservations of the cart are not required, but it is subject to availability.
Driving Range: The controls for the range servant ball dispenser are operated between 52-57″. Balls are taken at 15″. The Pro Shop staff will issue driving range balls out of the pro shop for any patron upon request.
Restaurant/Hospitality: The restaurant patio is accessible. Restaurant seating on lower tier is accessible by ramp with an accessible table located most conveniently on the route. The hospitality station in the Pro Shop is accessible and assistance is provided. The on-course snack shack is open only when staffed. Staff delivers to the patron’s carts.
Restrooms: The only accessible restroom is located in the main complex. Course restrooms are not accessible. Restaurant restrooms are not accessible.
Viewing: Driving range, putting and chipping greens provide good viewing sites. The restaurant outdoor patio provides accessible viewing. The course is restricted to golfers.
Sensory Experience: Persons with plant allergies or sensitivity should consider the natural setting of the course.
Event & Picnic Space: Event space is available for special events. The event tent is on grass and accommodation planning will be reviewed with the event sponsor based on the type of activities and program offered.
Learn more about Meadow Park improvement projects.
Erik Haag, PGA Certified
PGA Golf & Business Operation Supervisor
Golf Course Manager