Guest Writer John Byrne
Dallas is known for its rich golf history. The city’s courses are steeped in colorful tales of legendary players who got their starts as caddies, of top amateurs and pros learning the ropes on public facilities, and for staging major championships. Here’s John’s take on a Dallas Golf Guide…not bad for a Scot!
Tenison Park was a teething ground for Hall of Famers Ralph Guldahl, Lloyd Mangrum and Lee Trevino. Lee Elder caddied at Tenison for a dollar a day. Across the Trinity River in Oak Cliff, Don January and Jimmy Powell practically grew up on Stevens Park. Cedar Crest brought Dallas its first major, the PGA Championship, in 1927. Northwood Clubhosted the 1952 U.S. Open, then Jack Nicklaus won the 1963 PGA Championship at Dallas Athletic Club.
Despite its tradition, Dallas’ golf courses went largely unnoticed nationally. And some of the landmarks are long gone. Glen Lakes, where Trevino first caddied at age 8, is covered with office towers, strip malls and condos. Bob-O-Link, where Guldahl caddied in the early 1930s while attending Woodrow Wilson High, has been replaced by Lakewood homes. And Hardy Greenwood’s pitch-and-putt course, where Trevino won bets playing with a 32-ounce Dr Pepper bottle, is now a supermarket.
But the Dallas area, known primarily for the quality players it produced, is gaining more acclaim for the high quality of its courses. New developments over the last decade, following the population growth north of the city, have positioned the Dallas area as a prime location for primo courses. Dallas National Golf Club opened to much fanfare in August 2002. The exclusive private club was created to provide its members the ultimate golfing experience while giving Dallas a must-see national layout capable of hosting a major.
Boosted by immense development over the last 15 years, and the past five in particular, the greater Dallas area boasts a wide variety of excellent layouts catering to almost every whim. Inside the city limits, Dallas’ five city courses remain popular spots, enhanced by the city’s Golf Passport program. Tenison’s new Highland Course, designed by D.A. Weibring/Golf Resources Inc., adds a high-end dimension to the historic 36-hole facility in East Dallas.
Cedar Park is one of the state’s best bargains with its crowned greens and strategic layout,and current improvements should only add to its luster. Stevens Park, L.B. Houston and Keeton Park also offer challenging and affordable layouts.
In the suburbs, course construction continued even as the economy weakened. Someexcellent designs were unveiled from late 1998 to early 2001 with 14 new daily-fee courses opening throughout the area. Favorites such as Firewheel Golf Club in Garland, Sherrill Park in Richardson and Carrollton’s Indian Creek have changed with the times, making improvements for the long haul. It’s difficult to imagine a better municipal facility than Firewheel, which now features 63 holes. The Old Course, established in 1983, and the Lakes Course, built in 1987, are ranked among the state’s top municipals by The Dallas Morning News. The Bridges at Firewheel, a 27-hole facility, is the most recent addition, making Firewheel the largest golf facility in the state.
Jeff Brauer of Arlington-based GolfScapes is one reason for the influx of top-end courses in the area. Among Brauer’s creations are Grand Prairie’s Tangle Ridge Golf Club, Grapevine’s Dallas Cowboys Golf Club and McKinney’s WestRidge Golf Club. He also did Plano’s Ridgeview Ranch in 1996, The Trails of Frisco in 2000 and McKinney’s WestRidge in 2001. Cowboys Golf Club, hailed as the world’s first NFL themed course, represents America’s Team with pride. The rolling terrain is unique for the area and its VIP packages provide the feeling of belonging to a private club for a day. Tangle Ridge did much to enhance Brauer’s reputation as a builder of upscale public courses that are as fun to play as they are challenging. Tangle Ridge, which opened in 1995, received much critical acclaim while giving Grand Prairie one of the area’s finest municipal layouts. Grand Prairie also benefited from improvements made at its other municipal course, Prairie Lakes Golf Course, a 27-hole layout that was previously named Grand Prairie Municipal. The name change was made to accompany the enhancements to the course.
The area is stocked with excellent public courses that lure players with unique layouts. One of the newcomers, Fairview’s Heritage Ranch is a scenic masterpiece designed by Arthur Hills. Old oak and pecan trees, as well as lakes and a natural waterfall, dot the rolling terrain and provide dramatic views. The Tribute at The Colony offers something vastly different with its Scottish replica holes. It also is the area’s first daily-fee course to offer caddies on a regular basis, using Dallas-based Caddie club to provide caddies to walking players, and forecaddies to those in carts.
Tour 18 in Flower Mound, just 10 miles northwest of the airport, has been a big hit. Using computer technology and aerial photography, club developers designed 18 of the nation’sfavorite holes. If you ever wanted to play Amen Corner or the famous tee shot on the island hole at Sawgrass, then Tour 18 is the next best thing.
The Golf Club at Castle Hills rivals private clubs with its amenities. The course meanders across wooded hills, creeks and ponds. Water comes into play on 13 holes on this Jay Morrish & Associates design. The club places much emphasis on its comprehensive teaching academy, 500-yard range and three full-length practice holes.
The Old Brickyard in Ferris, a daily fee course located just west of Interstate 45, was constructed on the site of a former brick quarry. The old brick pit, which is 70 feet deep, presents an imposing water hazard. Stewart Peninsula, on the eastern shores of Lake Lewisville, is a seaside-links design using nine holes with six tees and dual greens on each hole. Players hit from the red tees to the red flags for the first nine, then hit from the gold tees to yellow flags for the second nine.
Carrollton has some outstanding layouts, including underrated Columbian Country Club, aprivate facility, and old favorite Indian Creek with its wooded Lakes and Creek courses offFrankford Road. Coyote Ridge is a tremendous new layout that is as challenging as it is picturesque.
McKinney is well stocked with private courses the Dallas Stars Country Club at Stonebridge Ranch, formerly The Clubs at Stonebridge Ranch, and Eldorado Country Club. The quiet suburb also has two strong public facilities WestRidge Golf Course and Oak Hollow Golf Club. Wylie’s Woodbridge Golf Club, designed by Lee Singletary of Plano, is a beautiful layout featuring streams and ponds along tree-lined meadows. And Prosper’s Gentle Creek, another D.A. Weibring/Golf Resources Inc. design, is a scenic private course that winds over rolling terrain.
With so many newcomers on the landscape, golfers reap the benefit by the increased competition, with the recession still holding down greens fees.