It was another early start to make our way in Dodgy to the TPC Las Colinas Golf Course ‚?? part of the Four Seasons Hotel complex here in Dallas.
The Hotel licenses the TPC brand from the PGA Tour and so Phil Tataurangi was able to arrange for us to play here.
Phil also took the lead and drove Dodgy to the Four Seasons and was blessed to experience what it feels like to turn up in a flash car park in Dodgy, tell the guy on the security gate you‚??ve come to play golf and then try and find a park amongst the BMW‚??s. Pure.
This track recently hosted the HP Byron Nelson Championship as part of the PGA Tour (which spends a three week loop here in the twin cities that are Dallas / Fort Worth). Supposedly it is a real hotspot during the week where locals come to party, holler and generally come to ‚??be seen‚?? ‚?? sounds a bit like the races back home. Except here it is 35 degrees (Celsius) every day and you‚??re surrounded by a luxury five star hotel and all the accompanying bells and whistles.
The course was redesigned prior to the 2008 championship (won by Aussie Adam Scott) by D.A Weibring..¬† Scoring here is traditionally very low, and the fields here are generally very strong. The professional golfers were personally invited to play in this tournament by the great man Lord Byron himself prior to him passing.¬† So the lists of past champions on the halls include Tiger, Phil, Ernie Els, Sergio, Parnevick etc.¬†¬† Since Lord Nelson‚??s death the fields haven‚??t been as strong and with Tiger not including this event on his schedule any longer some have now described this as a ‚??have-not‚?? event on tour.
I was pleasantly surprised by the course. Despite it adjoining a hotel, having been redesigned in the last couple of years and having the TPC initials before its name the course seemed very settled and, at times, subtle and traditional.
The greens were small and you needed to exhibit some shotmaking to get the ball on in regulation.¬†¬† A parkland course, like many in the US, there was not a lot of roll here, and with the par 70 course playing nearly 7200 yards it was tough going.¬† Last week the PGA Tour stopped here and Jason Day¬† (the young Aussie) won with 10 under par.¬† ¬†
Phil explained why the scoring was not red hot ‚?? there is normally a strong wind blowing across the course. Which explains many of the holes, for example the 528 yard par four third.¬† Stop and think about that ‚?? 528 yards. So if you bomb a 300 yard drive you‚??ve got 230 left. It‚??s not downhill either, the tee shot plays between a lake on the right (and OOB if you go way right) and bunkers on the left. The green is raised with tight lies most of the way around it.¬† 5 was the best score here amongst us all!
The course was pretty brutal today because it was still fresh from being in tournament condition and the rough was incredibly long and wiry.¬†¬† On a couple of occasions we nearly lost balls that had trickled just off the fairway.¬† Advancing it 100 yards with a wedge from the rough was not uncommon.
Another good fun hole was the drivable par four 11th at 330 yards. The green had two shelves, the lower one on the left and the upper on the right. The pin today was just at the bottom of the slope on the left half of the green. Despite Phil and I getting pretty close to the green with our drives, we still couldn‚??t give ourselves a decent putt at the birdie, such was the nature of this ridge running through the green.
The finish here is special. Starting with 14 ‚?? a dogleg right par four (pictured below) that plays into the prevailing wind that tends to blow any poorly struck ball down and left towards the water. Then 15 is a tough par four if ever there was one ‚?? 500 yards + again and into the prevailing breeze.¬† 16 is an uphill par five, and then 17 (also below) is a par three over water¬† - take a guess at where the pin goes on the last day of the tournament.¬† On all of these holes the redesign has included mini amphitheaters around the greens and plenty of space for corporate seating and grandstands.¬† This is stadium golf. And today the stadiums were still up so you could almost picture yourself playing amongst 40,000 screaming Texan fans. Well not quite..
Making this finish even better was having the best seat in the house watching Phil in action carve it up. 4 birdies in 5 holes on 13 ‚?? 17 made for memorable viewing and was good enough to snake us in the skins by a handful (after he had no skins through 12 holes).¬† This was easily the best golf that I‚??ve seen first hand so far this year ‚?? and we‚??re all hoping to see Phil carve it up for a few days at a tournament in the near future!
Throughout the round we shared thoughts on golf course architecture with Phil who, like us, takes a huge interest in what makes a golf course tick.¬† He shares many philosophies with both of us, and also has an eye for more traditional golf course design.¬† Phil, as a pro who has played the game all his life, understands the angles a bit better and is in the psyche of a pro whilst also understanding what an amateur would do.¬†¬† Standing on the 18th he explained to us that this hole used to be a dogleg par four with a tree named after Byron overhanging on the inside corner and blocking out any tee shot that was slightly pulled. Now it is wide open with a lake and water feature on the left making for a more dramatic view for the TV cameras. This would have cost plenty, but then again this is the Four Seasons! ¬†Into the wind this is a tough finishing hole, one where last week Jason Day, with a 2 shot lead got the ball up and it was knocked into the pond but he still scrounged a 5 to win.¬†¬† I finally strung a couple of shots together and made birdie (after being sledged by Phil for taking an iron off the tee) the best way to leave the round smiling.
After golf we headed for a bite to eat and then off to watch the PGA Tour at Colonial. Unfortunately my new shorts split so I was left only to wear pants ‚?? loudmouth pants ‚?? hear how that went down with the Texan folk in JP‚??s upcoming post.
Dinner was back at base camp with the Mel and Phil ‚?? another kiwi bbq (Phil can cook steaks pretty damn well) and a slice of home (tuimato sauce included).¬† They‚??ve been amazing hosts and just what the doctor amidst our mammoth drive cross country.
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