Sneak peek: Playing the new Old American Golf Club near Dallas
THE COLONY, Texas - Old American Golf Club at The Tribute is beautiful, difficult and interesting. It's also very exclusive right now.
That's because this Tripp Davis-Justin Leonard design really isn't open.
It is, however, close to being ready. I recently got a sneak preview.
There aren't any yardage markers, and you need a guide to find some of the tees, but it does play like a real golf course, with the exception of some of the newer greens, which still need to grow in.
Old American Golf Club General Manager Jeff Kindred says a soft opening is on the slate for April 2010 with an official grand opening set for next summer if the clubhouse is completed by then. A hotel and condominiums are also in the works.
In the meantime, the future semi-private course is being operated out of a trailer just across the way from the Old Course at The Tribute. The Old Course, also designed by Davis, is a tribute to the great Scottish courses of the British Open.
By contrast, Old American Golf Club, which was originally called the New Course, pays homage to early American architects, many of whom made their way to the United States from the British Isles around the turn of the previous century.
Together, they are one of the most interesting 36-hole setups in the country.
"The Old American Golf Club focuses on emulating design techniques from the great American courses that were designed with strategic interest as the foundation," Davis said. "Stylistically, we took cues from how these early American designs created strategic interest via features."
What that means is that Old American Golf Club has bunkers, greens, fairways and teeboxes that evoke a feel from courses like Shinnecock Hills, National Golf Links of America, Prairie Dunes and Crystal Downs Country Club. You'll find native grasses and fairways that roll naturally. The holes reflect the design styles of architects such as Donald Ross and A.W. Tillinghast.
It's old-school golf with a twist. The course has new-school yardage
Old American Golf Club takes on modern players
The par 72 could play more than 7,300 yards if you used all the back tees.
"I don't think we're even going to put some of those on the scorecard," said Kindred. "With the wind, this course will play tough enough as it is."
Those way-back tees will probably be reserved for high-level amateur or professional events. Even at 6,800 yards, which would be one set of tees up, Old American Golf Club will a tough nut to crack.
Located about 30 minutes north of Dallas, wind is almost always a factor. The trees, while plentiful, provide more obstacles than they do protection from the gales whipping off Lake Lewisville.
And speaking of Lake Lewisville, it comes into play on several holes, including a difficult and long stretch to start the back nine.
Those aforementioned bunkers, by the way, have a ragged old-timey look. And some of them can be difficult. Around many of the bunkers is native grass or thick rough. Hitting into the bunkers is difficult but around them is perhaps even harder. It's a gorgeous but treacherous look.
Old American Golf Club: The verdict
It's an early verdict to be sure, but here's the lowdown: Old American is most intriguing.
It's a difficult but fair layout. Playing the proper tees is so important because the fairways and greens are surrounded by minefields that contain more than 100 bunkers. And since they are old school, you can forget about the perfect lies and low lips, which makes managing this course paramount.
That's not to say there aren't birdie opportunities. The 18th, which is only a little more than 500 yards one tee up, is certainly reachable in two. There are some short par 4s where you can have wedges in your hand. And the fairways aren't exceedingly small targets.
There are also some monster par 3s (one tops out around 235 yards into the wind) and a really tough stretch of holes to start the back nine.
The golf course is also beautiful. The lake really creates some stunning sunsets and inlets around the holes. And for good measure, a 19th century railroad bridge that used to cross the Red River is now used to transport golf carts on a portion of the front nine.
All-in-all, I look forward to this course maturing and playing it again next spring or summer.
November 25, 2009