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Location: Las Colinas, the Colony, and Dallas
What You’ll Need: Big Bertha driver, GPS range finder
The Dallas area is home to three golf courses that allow players to experience what the game is like at the top level. You can play the same holes the pros have played, and you can achieve the duffer’s grand slam: 72 holes in 48 hours. I took my 23-year-old son, Barrett, along for company (and for his keen eyes, which can locate my misdirected shots), but to squeeze in all that golf, we had to start on Friday. We stayed at the Four Seasons Resort and Club, in Las Colinas, the only way we could play TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas, the site of the HP Byron Nelson Championship. We arrived in April, and with the tournament less than a month away, the conditions were flawless. The fairways are generous, but the course has more bunkers than the Siegfried Line. A 2007 redesign by D. A. Weibring and Steve Wolfard altered every hole except the 406-yard fourteenth. You can’t improve on impossible. The only way to play this dogleg right is a high fade around imposing trees; hit it straight and you’re in the water. The second shot is into the wind across more water to a peninsula green. Amateurs, of course, can choose a friendly tee box, though it was not friendly to me.
We rose at 5:30 to make our 7:12 tee time at the Tribute Golf Club, which Golf Digest rated as the number one public golf course in the area. Located in the Colony, north of Dallas, Tribute pays homage to the greatest holes of the British Open from the Scottish championship courses. Among the ones represented are St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Muirfield, and Turnberry, where the 2009 Open will be held. You can play the famous Road Hole at St. Andrews (minus the road), and yes, I did hit my drive into a dreaded pot bunker, from which the only escape was to hit backward toward the tee. My favorite hole was Royal Troon’s Postage Stamp, a par three whose name references the minuscule size of the green.
Next we headed to South Oak Cliff for our third championship course: Cedar Crest, the site of the 1927 PGA, the first major ever held on Texas soil. The design was the creation of A. W. Tillinghast, one of the first great American golf course architects. Most of the greens are original (if rough in places), and Tillinghast’s ability to challenge players by using the natural terrain, without yielding to the temptation to trick up a course, is most evident from the first hole: 602 yards with a downhill and a sharp right turn.
To complete our duffer’s grand slam, we played Cottonwood Valley, the Four Seasons’ second course. The first hole has a bunker shaped like Oklahoma and a green shaped like Texas—a fine political statement by the original architect, Robert Trent Jones Jr. My approach landed in Lufkin and rolled to Tyler; unfortunately, the pin was in Laredo. Recently redesigned by Jay Morrish, Cottonwood Valley is no pushover, but by the rigorous standards of TPC and championship golf, it seemed like putt-putt. When we finally arrived at the eighteenth green, I looked at Barrett and said all that needed to be said: “Seventy-two.” He nodded. We had done it. I was ready for the six-headed shower at the men’s spa back at the resort, but Barrett had different plans. “Hey, Dad,” he said, “is it okay if I take a lesson?”
Dallas-Area Golf Tour
Cedar Crest Golf Course 1800 Southerland Ave., 214-670-7615 or golfcedarcrest.com. Weekend greens fees $40.
Four Seasons Resort and Club, Dallas, at Las Colinas 4150 N. MacArthur Blvd., 972-717-0700 or fourseasons.com/dallas. Rates start at $230 a night.
TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas and Cottonwood Valley Golf Course are part of the resort. Weekend greens fees $185.
Tribute Golf Club 1000 Lebanon Rd., 972-370-5465 or thetributegolflinks.nemexinc.com. Weekend greens fees $129.