The Tribute at The Colony: Golf In Scotland Was Never Like This

By David R. Holland, Contributor

THE COLONY, TX -- Born in Scotland. Built in Texas.

You just can't say it any better. Old Tom Morris would look at his lie in the fairway and do a double take -- conditions were never so good in Scotland.

Texan Tom Kite once said the courses of the British Open resembled glorified cow pastures. Folks, the cow pastures of The Tribute at The Colony (Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area) are lush and the greens are enormous, except for the tiny No. 5 Postage Stamp. The bent grass greens roll as perfectly as the new greens at famed Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth.

And if you hit one of the fairway pot bunkers, you might just face an escape sideways or even backwards. At all costs, stay away from the famous No. 17 Road Hole pot bunker.

You want undulations in greens? Just watch as your bump-and-run, hit directly at the pin, catches a ridge and rolls and rolls on the slick bent grass. Hit it just right of the cart path and forget it. There's two-foot high wiry native grass.

If you play it on a day the wind is whipping you will know true Scottish golf weather -- the mounds and dunes will be wind-swept and the native grass will be waving mightily.

The awesome new layout, designed by Oklahoman Tripp Davis, opened on May 5. The Tribute's par-72, 7,002-yard layout was developed on 250 acres of ranch and farm land on the eastern shoreline of Lake Lewisville.

And the best part is you can play it for $75 on weekdays -- juniors for $30 and seniors for $45. Royal Links, another Scottish replica course in Las Vegas, will put you back $235.

"We've had nothing but rave reviews about the layout and conditions," said head pro Chance Blythe. "Golfers notice the stacked-sod bunkering and the square-cut tee boxes. It's just different from anything you have seen in Texas. And you will never see a house built on this golf course."

The first thing you see is the Tudor-style clubhouse. Scottish tunes are playing on the sound system and photos of golf in Scotland cover the walls.

On the first tee, No. 1 at St. Andrews, you view the largest fairway in golf, which is shared with St. Andrews' No. 18 -- a site any true historian of golf has seen in photos or watching The British Open on TV. If you miss this fairway you need to head for the range.

The holes were also inspired from Carnoustie, Royal Dornoch, Royal Troon, Machrihanish, the Ailsa Course at Turnberry, the Old Course at Moray, Muirfield, Prestwick, Nairn Golf Club and Western Gailes.

The opening hole named "Burn", a 372-yard par-4 from the Old Course, features the Swilken Burn. It fronts the green, but also turns to the front and right of this fairway. A tee shot can reach it. The Burn was actually created as a storm drainage for the town of St. Andrews.

No. 5 is Troon's famous Postage Stamp, a 127-yard par-3, one of the shortest used in championship golf other than Pebble Beach's 107-yard 7th.

St. Andrew's is back on No. 11, a 172-yard par-3, which is considered one of the toughest in golf. Most pin placements require a safe shot to the middle. In the 1921 British Open, an immature Bobby Jones picked up his ball and stormed home. He later learned to love the course and won The Open at St. Andrews in 1927.

No. 16, the Wee Burn, is a 418-yard par-4 from Turnberry, site of a battle between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in the 1977 Open. This hole has provided lots of drama and three-shot swings. Anyone facing a long approach shot on this hole can find the water in front of this elevated green with any kind of mis-hit.

The Road Hole at St. Andrews, with its famous rock wall, awaits at 17. It is a 471-yard par-4 strategic test. Throughout history it has rewarded bold shots and punished defensive play. In the 1984 Open Watson found his ball resting against the wall. His bogey gave Seve Ballesteros the championship.

At St. Andrews this tee shot is basically blind. If you hit the fairway there are swales and hollows that can kick a rolling ball just about any direction. The second shot is grueling. Pull it left and it will roll into the cone-shaped cavernous Road Bunker. Hit it on the right side of the green and the slope might just pop it dead right over the road and against the wall.

Standing on the tee at No. 18 one sees the immense fairway, the clubhouse and the famous rock bridge over the Swilken Burn where thousands of golfers have had their picture taken -- including the legends of the game.

The hole is only 359 yards long, but the green is huge and the swale on the left, called "The Valley of Sin", can make recovery a challenge. Remember Constantino Rocca's long, long putt for birdie to force a playoff with John Daly in the 1995 Open?

"After Rocca made the improbable putt through the Valley of Sin, my heart sunk to my stomach," Daly recalled. "Everyone always asks what I was feeling. I tell them that the picture of mine and my wife's face tells it all. After a brief period of disbelief, I remember thinking this is still my tournament and tried channeling all my emotions to positive thoughts." Daly triumphed in the playoff.

No. 18 can be simple or it can be taken too lightly. Such was the case for Leo Diegel in 1933 and Doug Sanders in 1970. Both had the championship in their hands before underestimating this famous hole and walking away defeated.

The Tribute at The Colony is a winner already. But there are also plans for a 400-room hotel in the future as well as another course across Boyd Road.

"We will breaking ground for a new course in 2002 or 2003," said Blythe. "At this time we haven't decided if it will be another famous Scottish-type course."

You don't need to wait for the hotel to stay here. Upstairs in the clubhouse are seven luxury suites with incredible views of the layout. The Crown Suite can be rented for $240 a night during the week and $270 on weekends. There's also the St. Andrews Suite for $209 and $235. Others go from $169 to $109.

World-class amenities at the Tribute include a huge 33,000-square-foot clubhouse facility featuring men's and women's locker rooms, a restaurant and pub serving Scottish specialties and beverages, a large full-service pro shop and a meeting room seating up to 200 guests.

There's also a 25-acre practice facility including a 60-stall driving range, pitching and putting greens and a one-acre putting course.

The Tribute at The Colony
1000 Boyd Road
The Colony, TX 75056

Telephone: 972-370-5465

Directions: Take Highway 121 east from I-35 to FM 423, Main Street in The Colony. Turn right or north to Boyd Road. Turn left on Boyd Road for 2.5 miles.

From Central Expressway out of Dallas, take Highway 121 west to FM 423. Turn right or north and then left on Boyd Road.

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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