Fields Ranch at PGA Frisco, East and West Course
By Art Stricklin
Texas has golf courses, lots and lots of golf courses, 800-plus in fact. Lots of great courses, private enclaves, plus top-rated resorts in Austin-San Antonio, but great public golf, especially in the North Texas
Not so much. That's what makes the soon to open two public championship courses in in booming North Texas suburb of Frisco, 40 minutes north of downtown Dallas, so remarkable.
Located at the new, modern PGA of America headquarters on 660 acres of former North Texas farm land hence the official name Fields Ranch at PGA Frisco, East and West Course.
Owned and operated by Omni Hotels, which will have a massive 550-room resort here, the PGA will oversee golf operations on City of Frisco land.
Architect Gil Hanse's designed East Course includes a drivable par 4 on both the front (No. 7) and back nine (15). There is a nearly a 300-yard par 3, (No. 13 from the championship tees) along with the largest green on the course followed by the smallest, just to confuse golfers' already confused minds. Then a bunkerless par 4 16th hole which seems simple, but is anything but!
Then, for the closing act, there is a dangerous 17th whole par 3, at 141 yards, the shortest on the course, plus a par 5 18th hole with a large stream and a hard dogleg right over a 10-foot earthen wall to reach the final green after crossing Panther Creek for the final time.
The West Course by Beau Welling, who did Bluejack National GC with Tiger Woods outside Houston, did the more player friendly layout with lots of wide open North Texas prairie spaces, elevated views and some truly funky greens.
It's a course to be ridden for sure, but one to take in the scenery with risk and reward challenge. Welling said the two courses are not identical sisters but in the same family.
"It's more like cousins. I wanted to be able to bring my mother out here that may not be as good as I am, but still have a good time."
On the East Course, playing the correct set of tees will be critical to resort player enjoyment for the triple figure rates which will be charged to Omni Hotel guests and general public play.
If fact, when Woods opened his private Bluejack National course he said he hoped most players could play his course with a single ball.
If an amateur plays PGA Frisco East with single ball, they might be drug tested or sent straight up to the PGA Tour,
The current course record is two-under 70. While I certainly didn't threaten that, I do have the record as the first player to play 36 on the East Course on the same day. At a lost ball count considerable less than 70!
But almost every spare inch of this new Texas golfing utopia will be open to the public from the largest putting green in the US of A (the Dance Floor) to the 10-hole Short Course (The Swing) to the resort and two courses,.
Heck, even the Northern Texas PGA will have an awesome synthetic putting and chipping complex as part of their HQ here, open to the public when not in use for NTPGA activities.
Add nearly a dozen eating, drinking and shopping establishments all overseen by a huge electronic TV screen, plus a three mile, walk/bike/pet trail, and you've got a golfing paradise no matter if you're a thoroughly hooked hacker, a casual golfer or just somebody who wants in on the non-stop action.
"We were always going to make everything public here, because that fits into the PGA of America's mission of attracting golfers and non-golfers to the sport," said PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh.
The East Course, which will host 26 major golf championships starting with the PGA Seniors Championship in May, two future PGA Championships and likely a Ryder Cup., includes a drivable par 4 on both the front (No. 7) and back nine (15).
There is a nearly a 300-yard par 3, (No. 13 from the championship tees) along with the largest green on the course followed by the smallest, just to confuse golfers' already confused minds. Then a bunkerless par 4 16th hole which seems simple, but is anything but!
Then, for the closing act, there is a dangerous 17th hole par 3, at 141 yards, the shortest on the course, plus a par 5 18th hole with a large stream and a hard dogleg right plus a 10-foot earthen wall you'll to hit over to reach the final green after crossing Panther Creek for the final time.
"I think you could have some fireworks there," Hanse said in a bit of an understatement in an interview with co-designer Welling at the Omni Frisco Resort.
While the public, which will get its first chance to play here in the late spring/early summer of 2023, will make up most of the rounds on the Hanse East course, (there is a small private membership) he designed the course to be player friendly, but certainly not pain free if you don't hit the correct shot from the correct tee.
Hanse said one of the things learned from designing the Olympic Golf Course in Brazil. this was turned into a public facility after the Olympics left, is using a long set of, 'ribbon tees,' which is a continual path of grass, 100 yards long on some of the holes.
The course can easily play more than 7,800 yards from the back ribbon, but PGA officials said the length will rarely, if ever, used on a daily basis.
But playing the correct set of tees will be critical to resort player enjoyment for the triple figure rates which will be charged to Omni Hotel guests and general public play.
The opening hole on the East Course is a par 5 with a dogleg right, which features some thick rough and the first appearance of native Panther Creek.
A less than optimal shot could mean the first lost ball early despite the best effort of the caddies, which will allow for walking by guests
Holes 10-12, all par 4, play in full view of the Huge Omni Resort, making them prime spots for tournament watching, but players of all skill levels will have their full attention captured when they get to the par 3 13th hole.
Panther Creek cuts across the fairway and curls up the left side, but it will be one of the most attractive features on the back side. The par 4 15th is another uphill drivable par 4 which is surrounded by bunkers to embrace the risk-reward factor. It's public drama open to all in the new home of professional and amateur golf in Texas and all of America
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Revised: 01/16/2023 - Article Viewed 2,040 Times
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About: Art Stricklin
Art Stricklin has covered every professional and most major amateur golf tournaments in the state of Texas. He has covered both the Byron Nelson and Colonial PGA Tour events for the last quarter century, plus the Texas and Houston Open more than a decade. He has covered every Champions Tour event in the state along with the Nationwide and LPGA Lone Star tournaments.
On the national scene, he has achieved the domestic grand slam, covering the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championships on multiple occasions along with the U.S. Amateur, the Tour Championship and dozens of other professional golf events.
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