Improve game in 2003? Might try Diamondback

By David R. Holland, Contributor

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- So you made a New Year's resolution to improve that golf game. Diamondback Golf Academy might just have the deal for you. And it is in the beautiful Alamo City, so you can visit and learn anytime of the year.

Tom Relf, a Canadian who convinced Jack Parker at Tapatio Springs that marketing in Canada would be a successful adventure, is the brain behind DGA.

"As a golf instructor I always dreamed of a facility where students could hit any kind of shot -- uphill, downhill, in bad weather and so on," said Relf. "And a place where you can actually be on the range with an instructor and immediately take those swing thoughts out on a real learning course."

Relf bought the land more than 10 years ago, put all his thoughts together to design Diamondback and hired Roy Bechtol of Austin to design three championship golf holes at the complex -- a par 3, par 4 and par 5 with two pin placements on each hole.

What he didn't count on was construction of The Palmer Course at La Cantera right next door to Diamondback -- a sure-fire windfall as far as convenience to folks who come to La Cantera Resort.

Check out Diamondback's many packages, schools, digital video analysis at Schools include short game, half day, full day, two-day coaching, four-day coaching and junior schools.

Redstone's Grand Opening

It's only four months until the Shell Houston Open debuts at the new Redstone Golf Club, a Peter Jacobsen-Jim Hardy design. Grand Opening for the course was held Dec. 5 for the 7,508-yard layout.

The land used was actually the former site of El Dorado Country Club, a George Fazio design that dated back to the 1950s. Redstone used four holes of the original routing. When the complex is finished it will include 36 holes of championship golf and a nine-hole par-3 track.

One thing you might notice on the new layout is the absence of lots of fairway bunkers. The Jacobsen-Hardy philosophy is you don't need them when got so many trees -- ponderosa pine and all kinds of huge oaks - live, water, red and pine. They figure staying out of the woods is enough of a challenge.

Cedar Crest Country Club -- History and Makeover

The 1927 PGA Championship held at Cedar Crest Country Club put this A.W. Tillinghast design forever in golf history. But the years have been hard on this old track in the Dallas area known as Oak Cliff. Many of the original bunkers were removed over the years for easier maintenance.

But there's good news. Now known as Cedar Crest Golf Course and a City of Dallas municipal, is going to get a makeover or modernization. Plano's D.A. Weibring of Golf Resources Group, has been selected to retool the 6,550-yard par 71.

The course already has a new $2.2-million clubhouse and now the city will spend $3 million more to update the course with a driving range and the addition of 20 new sand traps. The newest technology in grasses will also be used. Actually, the City of Dallas water department will loan the money to the Parks & Recreation Department and will be repaid over the next 30 years or so.

Many say Walter Hagen's victory here at Cedar Crest in 1927, one of his five PGA Championships, was the most dramatic of his career. Legend says he gave a new definition to gamesmanship.

Hagen won the title with a one-up victory over Joe Turnesa in the finals for the Wanamaker Trophy, but his semifinal game against Al Espinosa was made famous when Hagen continually conceded three-foot putts throughout the match. Espinosa took a one-up lead into the 36th hole, and when Hagen turned to talk to the gallery, this time Espinosa missed the three-footer and then three-putted on the playoff hole.

Cedar Crest is located at 1800 Southerland in Dallas. Call (214) 670-7615 for tee times.

New Texas courses honored

Golf Digest has honored three Texas golf courses in its annual rankings of new courses. Pine Dunes Resort and Golf Club in Frankston was tagged No. 6 in the Best New Upscale Public Course category.

Pine Dunes is a 7,117-yard, par 72 layout by Jay and Carter Morrish created out of the East Texas pine forest. Check it out at and read the link to's course review of this winner.

Two new Texas private courses were honored in the Top Ten. The Club at Carlton Woods located at The Woodlands, is No. 3 on the list. This Jack Nicklaus design measures 7,385 yards and par 72. Log on to for more info.

And San Antonio's Briggs Ranch Golf Club is ranked No. 4 best new private course in the USA. This is a Tom Fazio layout that measure 7,206 yards, par 72. Bill Rogers, former PGA Tour player is instrumental in this new private gem right next door to the public Golf Club of Texas.

Player's Lake Estates opens nine holes

Gary Player's new Grand Lake Estates in Houston opened nine holes for play in October. Members are looking forward to the second nine being opened next spring. Located in Montgomery County, this is Player's second design in the area after the July opening of his course at The Woodlands.

Grand Lake Estates includes eight spring-fed lakes, 17 waterfalls, two island greens and big-time elevation changes.

Palmer attends opening of Lakecliff on Lake Travis

Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay attended the premier of Lakecliff on Lake Travis, a private par-71, 6,754-yard course traversing 180 acres in Spicewood, Texas. Lakecliff Country Club owns the new course which features Bermuda fairways and bentgrass greens. Lakes, streams and waterfalls highlight the terrain that includes deep ravines heading down toward Lake Travis.

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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