Cowboys Golf Club: Hilly, Wooded Site A Natural For First NFL-Themed Layout

By David R. Holland, Contributor

GRAPEVINE, TX - Few should be surprised that the Dallas Cowboys have introduced the world's first NFL-themed golf course.

The grass is not blue with silver fairway edges, but there is a star-shaped putting green and the golf carts are blue and silver with names of present and former players on them instead of numbers.

There are plaques at each tee box noting a historical moment in the five-time Super Bowl champions' storied existence.

And talk about a match made in heaven, course superintendent Scott Szydloski is so much a Dallas Cowboys fan that he has a star tattooed on an arm and he named his youngest son Troy, after Mr. Aikman, who led the Cowboys to three world titles in the 1990s.

Put all the Dallas Cowboys hoopla aside and you will find a unique new golf course that is destined to become known as one of the best daily-fee courses in Texas.

"I knew immediately when I saw the site," said architect Jeff Brauer, "that we had a piece of land that was going to be a winner. There aren't many sites this close to Dallas that have a remote feel, dramatic elevation changes up to 100 feet, so many trees, creek features and wildlife. We've seen bobcats and even a cougar."

Construction crews also had to work around a heron rookery located in 100-foot tall cottonwood trees. Cowboys Golf Club also planted 40,000 pin oaks, pecan trees and other indigenous trees on a 159-acre, Corps of Engineers' site to replace the 120,000 trees that were knocked down for the project.

And as the biggest bonus there are no houses lining the fairways.

Located just below Grapevine Dam adjacent to the 27-hole Grapevine Municipal Golf Course complex, Cowboys Golf Club measures 7,017 yards from the black tees at par 72 and features Brauer's unique style of fingered bunkering inspired by Alister MacKenzie. The course is overseeded with rye and Poa trivialis in the winter.

Brauer's construction crew moved only 200,000 cubic yards of dirt during the project and 120,000 of that happened on the No. 5 fairway where an old sand quarry existed.

"We first started looking at this property in 1988 when the Hilton Hotel had thoughts of building a course," he said. "The Grapevine Municipal Course was built in 1974 and there was a master plan for 36 holes. The dam was a Corps of Engineers' project and they always purchase several hundred acres more than they need in projects like this, so there was plenty of room for golf," he said.

Dinosaur bones unearthed in the dam construction are on display in the Corps of Engineers office.

Jerry Jones, Cowboys' owner and general manager, just had one request of Brauer. He wanted challenging greens, not goofy ones that would frustrate the average golfer.

One of Brauer's favorite holes is No. 2, a very tight 376-yard par 4 that plays over a creek. Don't take this hole lightly or you could post a high score.

"It's a hole that places a premium on the short iron, but it does have one pin placement at the back that will really challenge you. If you are above the hole here it's tough."

This undulating green is bisected by a ridge and above the hole your chip back to the pin is one of those you can't stop. In the summer when the Tifeagle greens are running nine to 10 on the Stimp meter, most likely your chip will just keep rolling.

"I was at a Dallas Stars game recently when I saw a golfer I knew running up the aisle to ask me about that very shot," Brauer said.

True to Jones' request, the greens are fair and manageable. The key on No. 2 is the golfer's own responsibility to recognize he should end up below the hole on his approach.

Another Brauer favorite is No. 17, a beautiful and demanding par 3 encircled by trees, playing over a large water hazard and deep ravine. It's slightly uphill and the green slopes from back to front. This could be one of the best in the Metroplex.

"Overall, I think the golfers like the natural setting of this layout and the traditional design. I also personally like No. 14," he said.

Fourteen is one of those short, 333-yard par 4s that places a premium on the drive with trees right and left and a creek carry on the tee shot.

No. 13 (at right), a par-5, 594-yarder from the back requires a solid approach with a deep creek gorge and environmental area fronting the green. It's a true three-shot par 5 playing against the prevailing breeze. Any mistakes could result in a double bogey.

Cowboys Golf Club opened in June 2001. Officials have plans that the course and its 9,000-square-foot clubhouse — complete with football memorabilia — will host numerous functions during the NFL season and beyond, including media broadcasts, charity tournaments and player appearances.

The concept for Cowboys Golf Club originated with Evergreen Alliance Golf Limited of Irving, which operates or manages more than 40 courses nationwide, including such Texas gems as Evergreen Alliance Golf Limited of Irving, in El Paso and Iron Horse Golf Course in North Richland Hills.

"We thought that with a site close to the Cowboys' training facility in Valley Ranch and the stadium in Irving, we had a great opportunity to take advantage of the synergy between Cowboys fans and the team," said Tony Apollaro, Evergreen's vice president of business development. "We believe Texas golfers will feel a strong identification with their favorite team as we develop the Cowboys theme on the property through the use of star tee markers, memorabilia in the clubhouse and information like team history."

"The Cowboys Golf Club is a natural fit in our philosophy of being on the cutting edge of creating excellent products and services that springboard the Cowboys brand into untapped markets. We're enthusiastic about pioneering this innovative golf concept with its potential in meeting the needs of golfers, business travelers and corporate executives," said Jones.

Betcha even those sarcastic Yankee talking heads at ESPN SportsCenter would love this place. Instead of exclaiming: "How 'bout them Cowboys?" in a condescending tone about the team's current misfortunes, they would be saying: "How ‘bout that golf course?"


Large driving range with numerous target greens. Cowboys' star-shaped putting green. Features 159 acres surrounded by stunning natural beauty, not residential barriers. State-of-the-art practice facilities and teaching facilities.


Located just north of DFW International Airport off State Highway 26, one-quarter mile west of Grapevine Mills Mall and adjacent to the Opryland Hotel and Conference Center site. Cowboys Golf Club is in the midst of the area's fastest growing business and entertainment area. Served by a major freeway network, it is easy to get to and from downtown Dallas, Fort Worth, Las Colinas, Alliance Airport, Texas Motor Speedway and other major business centers. Log on to for a direction map:

List of Historical Plaques:

Golf Rich Area

Brauer is also in the planning stage for the Opryland Golf Course which will be adjacent to the new Opryland Hotel and Conference Center right next door to Cowboys Golf Club. When the hotel opens people flying into nearby DFW Airport will look down on a giant concrete Cowboys star surrounding the practice putting green at the hotel.

Also nearby is construction on Vaquero Golf Club, near McKinney, which includes 436 acres of land bordering a ranch owned by former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw. It is located south and east of Trophy Club Country Club. Another new 36-hole golf project named Circle T is in the same area.

Where to Stay

Opryland Hotel Texas is scheduled to open August, 2003, and will also feature Opryland Golf Club. The 1,508 room hotel and convention center is located adjacent to Cowboys Golf Club.

Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center
1800 Highway 26
Grapevine, TX
Telephone: 817-481-8444

Embassy Suites Hotel Dallas-DFW International Airport
2401 Bass Pro Drive
Grapevine, TX
Telephone: 972-724-2600

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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