Glen Garden Golf & Country Club in Fort Worth: Walk back through time with Nelson and Hogan
FORT WORTH, Texas -- At face value, Glen Garden Golf & Country Club is unremarkable. The holes aren't spectacular, there aren't a bunch of elevated tees, and you won't find cascading water, a mammoth clubhouse or a pristine practice facility.
What you will find is straightforward, no frills golf on a course with better than average conditions. Walkable, playable and unpretentious, Glen Garden Golf & Country Club is for people who love golf.
But if you dig a little deeper -- and you don't have to dig very deep -- you get a sense for the club's history. First opened in 1912, it's the exact same age as the late greats Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan. Both of them, in fact, played a lot of their early golf at Glen Garden, and so did former LPGA player Sandra Palmer.
The course started out as a nine holer, with sand greens, but by 1925 it had nine more holes and was converted to Bermuda greens. It went through a period of bentgrass before going back to Bermuda in 1978.
Over the years it's gone through several incarnations but spent most of its history as a private club. Most importantly, though, the integrity of the original course -- designed by John Bredemus -- remains the same. And that's the beauty of this place: You can play this quirky layout pretty much the way Nelson did when he won his record 18th and last PGA Tour event of 1945.
Getting to know Glen Garden Golf & C.C.
At just less than 6,200 yards, you certainly don't have to be long to be successful at here. It's a broken record at courses like Glen Garden, but course management and accuracy are the key to scoring. A good short game will also help, given that the greens are generally small, so hitting them isn't that easy.
The greens are also deceptively fast, most likely due to the fact that they aren't that old and are well taken care of as the course begins its second century. The bunkers, though not particularly punishing, have also been renovated in recent years and will catch errant shots.
With only one par 3 on the front and two par 5s, the course has an unusual configuration. The par 71 is a par 37 on the front and par 34 on the back. Much of that is due to the fact that nearly half of the back nine is composed par 3s, including the 18th.
Ending a course with a par 3 isn't extraordinary. For much of its history, U.S. Open Congressional Country Club ended with a par 3, as does Alister Mackenzie's Pasatiempo in California. But one would be hard pressed to find another course that has four in the last five holes. And they're all different, including 14th, which plays to 240 yards from the back tee.
For the most part, though, the course is straightforward parkland golf. There are a couple of holes with elevated tees -- such as the 10th, which also plays back uphill to a green -- and water appears on a few holes but not many. Hit if off course, though, and the oaks and other trees will come into play.
Glen Garden Golf & Country Club: The verdict
There are plenty of fun holes, and Glen Garden Golf & Country Club is more challenging than first meets the eye. The smallish greens put a premium on the short game, and placement is certainly more important than power.
More than anything, though, things have been ramped up as of late, especially condition-wise. With fairly new Mini-Verde greens and the bunkers revamped, the course has taken on new character in its 101st year.
"A true joy to play with plenty of birdie opportunities," said reader Layne Billups. "If you have not played it in a while you really need to come and play it again. Great price. ... Much improved conditions."
In addition to the course, Glen Garden also has a relatively new clubhouse with terrific locker room facilities and dining that's open to the daily-fee player as well as members.
May 23, 2013