The Golf Club at Castle Hills: A Hub of the Metroplex's Northern Golf Corridor
LEWISVILLE, TX -- The North Texas pioneers were making wagon tracks in the early 1850s through a corridor that now links the flat land and rolling prairie above Fort Worth on Highway 114 through Byron Nelson's home of Roanoke and continues on Highway 121 through Grapevine, and north of Dallas through Flower Mound, Lewisville, Frisco, McKinney and Plano.
When the pioneers gazed toward the endless horizon they saw land dotted with creeks, oaks and mesquites and they settled here. They raised cattle and grew cotton.
Today, as you look out over The Golf Club at Castle Hills, on ranch and farm land that was once owned by H.R. "Bum" Bright, the Texas Aggie who also once owned the Dallas Cowboys, you see a part of the burgeoning golf corridor that is accompanying a population explosion, just north of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Jay and Carter Morrish designed The Golf Club at Castle Hills, which opened in June 1999. It's a par-72 with 7,152 yards of rolling hills, Tillinghast-like fingered bunkers, moderate breaking bent-grass greens, 419 bermuda fairways, ponds, creeks, mesquites and oaks and 60 feet of elevation changes. You will face a pond or lake carry on three holes and a creek comes into play on 10 holes.
In order to score stay out of the punishing bermuda rough and the deep bunkers. And Morrish claims you will have a better angle to the greens if you target tee placements close to the fairway hazards.
"I think golfers like the rolling hills and that the nines contrast," said Butch Stewart, General Manager. "You won't find a lot of terrain like this in North Texas. Another thing the players like is that it is a very playable golf course. The fairways are plenty wide."
Castle Hills' No. 7 will catch your attention. This par-3, 208-yarder, forces you to carry a pond that is fronted by stacked rock.
The signature hole is No. 11, a 372-yard, par 4, which has five sets of tees. Your drive angles over a huge lake and it's risk/reward all the way. How much you cut off determines the length of the green approach.
The par-5 12th, measuring 601 from the back, has an old windmill and concrete holding tank to the left front of the green, a relic left from the ranch days.
Metroplex's North Golf Corridor:
Early beginnings of this golf corridor included standout private layouts such as The Trophy Club near Roanoke, designed in 1976 by Ben Hogan and Joe Lee. In 1984 they added a second course designed by Arthur Hills. Stonebridge Country Club, designed in 1988 by Pete Dye, is in McKinney. The Grapevine Municipal Golf Course, designed by Byron Nelson and Joe Finger in 1979, has reported hosting as many as 80,000 rounds in one year. It's in remodeling mode currently with a goal of 27 holes when finished.
But the list of recent openings is even more impressive. The Trails of Frisco Golf Club opened in October. Just south of the Texas Motor Speedway at I-35 and Highway 114, is The Creeks at Beechwood, and just up Highway 121 in Frisco is the Westin Stonebriar Resort -- both opened in November 2000. (Watch for a review of both courses in the near future.)
Other new courses to the area include The Tribute at The Colony, a layout with British and Scottish replica holes, and Tour 18 Dallas, located in Flower Mound, replicating famous American golf holes including Amen Corner of Augusta National. Also in Flower Mound is Bridlewood Golf Club. Highly-ranked Stonebriar Country Club is right next door to the new Westin Stonebriar Resort Fazio Course.
Coming soon to the corridor -- Grapevine's The Dallas Cowboys Golf Club. Also, in Collin County new layouts will be Panther Creek Ranch and Heritage Ranch Golf Resort.
"It's really wonderful that we have so many great new golf courses to pick from," said Rick Sullivan of nearby Frisco. "The growth in this area is unreal and the traffic is awful. So when you have so many daily-fee courses north of the Metroplex, that means you don't really have to drive clear across Dallas or Fort Worth. You can stay right here at home and enjoy lots of variety."
Castle Hills is a major building block in that variety. You may never see a more impressive practice area, which is part of the Arnold Palmer Golf Academy. The driving range is massive measuring 500 yards from one end to the other -- there's even a three-hole practice course featuring a 610-yard par 5. For more information look up www.apga.com.
The 25,000-square foot clubhouse is Hill Country all the way -- limestone rock and tin roof. It houses the pro shop, restaurant, meeting facilities and the 19th Hole Grill.
The future? Castle Hills hopes to start construction on another nine holes and a resort hotel by the second quarter of 2001.
The Golf Club at Castle Hills
699 Lady of the Lake Blvd.
Lewisville, TX 75056
Telephone: 972-899-7400. Fax: 972-899-7403
Directions: From Dallas, go north on Dallas Tollway to Route 544, (W. Park Blvd., which turns into Hebron Pkwy), then west on Josey Lane, then north 0.5 miles to King Arthur Blvd., then left to Lady of the Lake Blvd., then right to the course entrance.
From DFW Airport: Lewisville is nine miles northeast of the airport. Go north on Hwy 121 to Lewisville. Follow signs to Hwy. 121 Business and continue east to FM 544. Turn right on FM 544. Continue on FM 544 to Josey Lane, to King Arthur Boulevard (Castle Hills entry). Right on King Arthur Blvd. to Lady of the Lake Blvd. (second stop sign). Right on Lady of the Lake Blvd.
Jay Morrish & Associates, Ltd. Since the golf-course design association with Tom Weiskopf ended, Morrish's son Carter has become a key ingredient in the business. Morrish said Carter is mostly responsible for the bunkering work at Castle Hills. For a close look at Morrish's impressive work through the years check out: http://www.themetro.com/jmorrish/course.htm. Jay Morrish, a graduate of Colorado State, was voted Architect of the Year in 1996 by Golf World Magazine.
Castle Hills Property History: There's a definite sports connection to the property that's now home to The Golf Club at Castle Hills. It was previously owned by H.R. "Bum" Bright, the Texas A&M Hall of Fame philanthropist. Remember that dismal Dallas Cowboys team Jerry Jones purchased in 1989? Well it was Bright and 11 others who owned the Cowboys, having acquired the team in 1984 from long-time owner Clint Murchison.
Bright was also the guy responsible for hiring Jackie Sherrill (now head coach at Mississippi State) for the Aggies after the 1981 football season and Sherrill subsequently got A&M in hot water with the NCAA for rules infractions.
Would You Believe? In August 1969, Lewisville was the site of the Texas International Pop Festival, a three-day event that featured such stars as Janis Joplin and B. B. King and drew a total attendance of 120,000.