Doral Tesoro treasures improvements by Morrish

By David R. Holland, Senior Writer

Doral TesoroFORT WORTH, Texas -- When is a golf course too difficult? When is a golf course poorly built? Those were questions Doral Tesoro Hotel & Golf Club, Weitz Golf International and Jay Morrish were tasked with in the rebuilding of an almost new golf course.

The inquiries were aimed at The Creeks at Beechwood, designed by Greg Norman back in 2000. Legend has it that Mr. Norman, during grand-opening ceremonies, stormed off the course, missing a bunch of golf balls, as his round was heading for the 80s. Just legend or fact? The course was also closed three times in three years because of flooding.

Then there's the definite fact that The Creeks at Beechwood was built in a flood plain and many of the greens were low-lying. Guess what happened to those greens? Flooded.

"I think we have a course today, where you can hit it and find it," said Morrish. "Before you couldn't find stray shots, and the big problem was not just that the course was narrow, but 14 greens were sitting flat on the ground and any kind of rain flooded them. The original layout totally ignored the 100-year flood plain."

He said some of the fairways were crowned like turf at Texas Stadium. So if your drive landed in the left center of the fairway it would kick left. If it landed in the right center it would kick right. Morrish and crew redid fairways making it possible for drives to stay where they were struck without any wild kicks left or right.

The No. 1 priority was to elevate the greens. No. 2 was to make the course more playable so it could get some return business. Morrish and crew widened some of the fairways, and attempted to get the golf course up out of danger from heavy rains.

Doral Tesoro "When a golf course is too difficult you are going to have folks come in and play it once and not come back," he said. "The daily-fee experience doesn't have to be easy where everyone shoots lights out, but it has to be a fun experience, and you must have a fair opportunity to shoot your handicap."

The golf course is still in a flood plain, but Morrish said any flooding damage in the future should be minimized with today's technology. And the elevated greens? "I don't want to be downstream when a big flood comes up to these greens we elevated," he said. Morrish, who said he was contemplating retirement soon, said they did very little work on the bunkers. If Morrish does retire, his son Carter, is ready to take over the design responsibilities of the company.

The new Doral Tesoro Golf Club also replaced half of the old irrigation system. GN-1 turf was planted in the fairways and Tif-dwarf - imported from California in refrigerated trucks - were sowed on the greens and tees. Weitz Golf did much of the work itself, including excavations, irrigation and construction of most of the concrete cart paths.

Weitz also corrected water problems at an irrigation lake, repairing the intake line, and enlarging, re-lining and replacing the soil cover. They then upgraded the lake -- which had previously lost more than 100,000 gallons of water a day -- to now fully service the course.

Doral Tesoro There are only three par threes and three par fives on the course, but the short holes are fun with either waste areas fronting them or heavy foliage surrounding them. No. 15, 199 yards, comes off an elevated tee with anything right in the creek or forest. Anything left is also forested. No. 1 is only 334 yards, but for the shaky high-handicapper from the rear tees there's a huge ravine to carry. No. 2, also must fly a deep gorge on route to a 490-yard par four from the tips. It is the No. 1 handicap hole. There's abundant trouble on the left with the lake and monster traps that dies out into the water. To the right is barbed-wire fence line and no recovery.

Where did the name come from? Tesoro is Spanish for treasure. Old timers tell a story of the outlaw Sam Bass, who staged a hold-up of The Burlington-Santa Fe railroad, which runs by on the western edge of the property line. The legend says his gang purloined a cargo of gold bars near the turn of the century. The story also alleges that some of the gang buried gold bars on the property. So in 1945 a Mr. J. Cleo Thompson, owner of the property, was asked by a former Huntsville jailbird, and Bass accomplice, if he could search the property for the gold. The former prisoner was in his 80s, but came back numerous times searching.

The verdict

Doral TesoroDoral Tesoro isn't for everyone. It is demanding with tight fairways and challenging golf, but with the re-design by Morrish it is worth another look. It's still a tough place to score, but the attached hotel, a former Westin, is first-class all the way. Not every golf course should be easy and personally I like to challenge myself. Give it a try.

Stay and play

Call and ask about the golf packages. The Doral Tesoro Hotel & Golf Club, near Alliance Airport and Texas Motor Speedway, has an unusual blend of contemporary decor and high-tech conveniences. There are 286 guest rooms and suites designed with the individual in mind. Amenities include oversized work desk, voicemail and cordless phone. Those seeking personal seclusion will enjoy the benefits of the suites, complete with spacious formal living and dining areas and views of the golf course. Also you get cordless dual-line telephones with voice mail, data port, Starbucks coffee, in-room safe, refreshment center, ironing board and iron and clock radio.

Dining out

Fort Worth has impressive dining options, but the Doral Tesoro's eateries are noteworthy. Enjoy contemporary American cuisine with a taste of Texas flair in the open-air atmosphere of The Creekside Cafe, a gourmet restaurant with open exhibition style kitchen and outdoor patio overlooking the golf course, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you prefer a place to meet before a night on the town, or a comfortable sport for the evening, enjoy a favorite beverage and appetizer at The Blue Moon Lounge.

Fast fact

Tesoro is the Spanish word for treasure and old timers tell a story of the outlaw Sam Bass, who staged a hold-up of The Burlington-Santa Fe railroad, which runs by on the western edge of the Doral Tesoro's property line. The legend says his gang purloined a cargo of gold bars near the turn of the century. The story also alleges that some of the gang buried gold bars on the property.

So in 1945 a Mr. J. Cleo Thompson, owner of the property, was asked by a former Huntsville jailbird, and Bass accomplice, if he could search the property for the gold. The former prisoner was in his 80s, but came back numerous times searching.

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Senior Writer

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 at @David_R_Holland.


Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Play at Doral Tesoro Golf Club

    John Heath wrote on: May 12, 2005

    I was in a foursome that played yesterday afternoon. The course is very nice but the management of it is poor. Play was slow due to the starter allowing a single in front of us, along with a twosome behind us and another two holes in front of us. Singles and twosomes are fine if few players are on the course but not when it's busy. We also never saw a marshall come by which is not good for the price we paid to play. The three golfers with me are clients from out of state and said they didn't want to come back due to the way the course is run. That's sad because the course is well-maintained and very challenging.

    Reply