Big 12 Golf Teams Benefit From New Golf Courses

By David R. Holland, Senior Writer

Bear Ridge Golf Course in WacoLUBBOCK, TX -- Here on the South Plains, where you can see farther, but see less, there's a dirt-moving project underway in this flat, arid land of cotton and oil fields and enthusiastic Big 12 sports fans.

With a gift of $8.6 million, Texas Tech University alumnus Jerry Rawls has paved the way for the construction of "the best collegiate golf course in the country". Someday, its planners believe, the NCAA Golf Championships will be hosted here.

Golf course architect Tom Doak (at right), designer of the award-winning Pacific Dunes in Bandon, Ore., was hired to create an artificial field of golf, where cotton can be see growing in the distance.

Tom Doak Just imagine moving a million cubic yards of West Texas dirt to create a 40-foot elevation change, 10-foot-high berms encircling the perimeter, artificial canyon areas, then lay down a lush Bermuda fairway carpet with bent-grass greens.

Most of the holes will be all Doak's, but he says others have been envisioned from places like Royal County Down in Northern Ireland, which inspired the par-4 No. 2. The par-4 No. 5 is similar to San Francisco Golf Club's No. 13, originally designed by George Thomas Jr. in the 1920's.

Red Raiders hope to be playing the course in late spring 2003. It will also include a state-of-the-art practice facility, clubhouse, pro shop, snack bar and locker rooms.

Bear Ridge Golf Course in Waco

Bear Ridge Golf CourseBear Ridge Golf Course, home of Baylor University's men's and women's golf teams, opened in the fall and is situated on 205 acres near the intersection of Highway 84 and Speegleville Road in southwest Waco. The hilly land includes a bluff overlooking the Middle Bosque River with several stone-filled streams cutting between large oak trees. Some holes will feature elevation changes of up to 50 feet.

PGA Tour players Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy, who have won acclaim for BlackHorse Golf Club in Cypress, TX, designed the course that showcases the natural features.

"We try to create one-of-a-kind holes that offer a variety of challenges and degrees of difficulty. Because within 18 holes, we want every player to discover 18 different holes," Hardy said.

Bear Ridge Golf Course A central feature to the course is the Bill and Roberta Bailey Golf Center, the clubhouse for Baylor's men's and women's golf teams. The center boasts a hill-country motif, with a wood and Austin stone exterior. It houses locker rooms for each team, space for team meetings and offices for the coaches.

The Bailey Golf Center has an indoor practice area with state-of-the-art video equipment, available for analyzing the players' swings.

Bear Ridge is one of the state's longest golf courses, measuring 7,478 yards from its "Big Jake" championship tees. Six sets of tees are available on every hole, from the shortest red tees at 5,157 yards, to the silver ones, which were given the Big Jake moniker. Much like the Jacobsen-Hardy BlackHorse in Cypress, even the tees up from the back play at a championship length of 7,123.

Bear Ridge Golf Course A lake borders the entire length of the 12th hole on the left, and also cuts across the fairway in front of the green. The Bosque River runs along the left side of the 15th hole, with a ridge rising above on the right.

"I've played many of the state's best courses and when (Bear Ridge) matures, I think it will be considered among the top 10 in the state," Baylor men's head coach Tim Hobby said. "It has a nice mixture of 11 to 12 holes in the trees, six out in the open, and it's not nine one style and nine the other. They did a nice job of going in and out of the terrain."

The course is not owned by Baylor. It is part of the Villages at Twin Rivers, a 255-acre planned unit development in West Waco.

Baylor's golf teams are expected to host three to four collegiate tournaments a year at Bear Ridge, but it is also open for daily-fee golfers. The course measures 7,400 yards from the championship tees. Check out www.bearridgegolfclub.com.

The Traditions, Aggies' New Home Course

The Traditions Golf and Country ClubTexas A&M golfers are eagerly awaiting the completion of The Traditions Golf and Country Club at University Ranch designed by Jack Nicklaus and Jack Nicklaus II.

The project, however, has been controversial and is partnered with ClubCorp of America, the same company that runs Barton Creek Resort in Austin and famed Pinehurst. That's likely to change with negotiations currently underway with another management firm.

The state-of-the art practice facility and course will be the home of the Aggie golf teams for play, practice and tournament play.

The golf course is part of the University Ranch master-planned community and will be a private club. Earliest date of construction completion has been set in the Fall 2003. Plans also have been made for a Traditions Hotel and Conference Center.

The location takes advantage of rolling green hills in Bryan -- covered with 100-year old oak trees and gently flowing creeks and ponds. Check out www. traditionsclub.com and www.universityranch.com.

New Texas Golf Courses

Vaquero Golf ClubIt has been a while since new private golf courses have opened in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, but watch for two soon.

Dallas National Golf Club designed by Tom Fazio is located in the hilly terrain just south of Loop 12 next to Mountain View College in the Oak Cliff area of the Dallas-Grand Prairie-Duncanville border, and requires a six-figure investment, as does the new Vaquero Club (at right) in Westlake.

At the exclusive Dallas National you might just see folks like Roger Staubach, Lee Trevino, and Texas Rangers' pitcher Kenny Rogers, all reported to be on the membership list.

Vaquero Golf ClubAt Vaquero Club (pictured), which has already opened, the member will enjoy Pro V1's on the practice range on this exclusive property on the Hillwood Circle T Ranch property in Tarrant County. The traditional country club has tennis, swimming and fishing as added amenities.

Prosper will be the home of another new private golf course named Gentle Creek Club, designed by D.A. Weibring.

Lantana Golf Club the new daily-fee Jay and Carter Morrish design, is scheduled to open June 1 in Argyle, north of Flower Mound. Lantana, which is 7,147 yards from the back tees, features a 20,000-square-foot, Hill Country-themed clubhouse, complete with a state-of-the-art, 100-inch projection television.

Other Metroplex designs include Tom Weiskopf's TPC at Craig Ranch and Carswell AFB's newly retooled layout which will be called Hawks Creek Golf Club. In Montgomery, near Houston, the new Fish Creek Golf Club, designed by Steve Elkington and managed by Troon Golf, will open a third nine this spring. Friendswood's Timber Creek also has a third nine set to open at the end of May.

Shell Houston Open Names New Home

Redstone Golf Club, designed by Jacobsen and Hardy, will be the new home of the Shell Houston Open. The tournament is leaving the TPC at The Woodlands after 17 years. The 7,350-yard course will be the host site through 2012 Tour players expressed their sadness over leaving The Woodlands, but most agreed the growth in population around the resort prompted the move. Parking was a problem.

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.


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