The Old American Golf Club to open in Dallas

May 26, 2010
PGA TOUR staff

THE COLONY, Texas -- As is usually the case with the Texas swing, Lone Star native Justin Leonard is immersed in a busy three-week dust-up of golf (Valero Texas Open), golf (HP Byron Nelson Championship) and more golf (the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial).

And things just got a little busier.

The Old American Golf Club, a Tripp Davis and Leonard collaboration evoking the timeless features of the "Golden Age" of American golf course architecture, will open in July at The Tribute resort community north of Dallas.

It is one of only two courses to open in the state this year, and the only new course to roll out in the golf-rich Metroplex. The Old American is Leonard's first Texas-based design project and the culmination of a long-time relationship with Davis, who he teamed with to design Shorefox Golf Club in Granby, Colo.

The Old American should appeal to students of classic architecture, featuring holes inspired by Donald Ross, C.B. MacDonald, Alister MacKenzie, A.W. Tillinghast and other legends.

It will join the Scottish-inspired "Old Course," also designed by Davis' Oklahoma-based firm and featuring holes from famous British Open venues, to create one of the truly unique and inspiring 36-hole golf experiences in the U.S. By way of these two 18-hole layouts, golfers will be able to sample actual holes and design treatments from far-away and extremely-private golf clubs they may otherwise not be able to access in their lifetimes.

"Tripp and Justin share many ideas and opinions about golf course design, and we are excited about the partnership and their vision for the Old American Golf Club," says Jack Matthews, President of Matthews Southwest, developer of Old American and The Tribute. "Tripp has a deep understanding of classic golf concepts, developed during the extensive time he spent in Scotland studying many of the British Isles' most storied courses. Justin has the insight gained from years of playing the world's best courses at an extremely high level."

Davis and Leonard's design work conjures the natural contours, hazard styles and green shapes of masterpieces such as Shinnecock Hills, National Golf Links, Prairie Dunes and Crystal Downs. Large, flowing bunkers, native grasses and subtle elevation changes will challenge players and mark the New Course as a wholly unique test of golf. Eight holes front Lake Lewisville, which provides a stirring backdrop to the 36-hole facility located just 23 miles from Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport.

"Old American matches golf's most enduring design elements with a spectacular canvass," says Davis, also an accomplished amateur player who stared at the University of Oklahoma. "It will delight architecture buffs and everyday players with recognizable features from famous and storied courses throughout the U.S. and Texas. Everyone will enjoy the views of Lake Lewisville and a stirring test of golf."

Davis, an admitted hands-on designer who only takes on a small number of projects simultaneously, says Leonard has been as involved and exacting as any player/designer he has worked with over the years. Adds Leonard, a Dallas-native, about Davis:

"I knew Tripp when he was playing golf for OU (University of Oklahoma). I knew at some point that I wanted to test the design waters, but I also wanted to wait for the right person and the right project. I turned down several opportunities until Tripp came along. It was kind of natural with me being from Dallas and with Tripp's experience on designing quality courses. He's challenged me to think about why I like certain holes, and then to be able to take that from paper to the field and see it come life."

Davis and Leonard set out to create a classic, strategic design with The Old American. The first few holes are "hard pars" if players confront risk, but very reasonable if risk is avoided. Holes eight and nine entice players to "get shots close to the pin" says Davis, as they position themselves for the second half of the match.

The back nine, Davis adds, was designed to present par as a "good score," with holes 12-14 playing along Lake Lewisville and presenting a myriad of environmental factors and playing options. Holes 16-18 provide one of the most dramatic finishes in golf, according to Davis.

And it isn't because of sheer length.

The par-4 16th is the shortest on the course, playing to 335-yards from the back tees, and tempts long hitters to opt for a driver, pitch shot combo. Poor tee shot placement can lead to bogey or worse, however. The 17th is the shortest par-3 on the golf course at 148-yards and features the smallest green and a steady cross-wind.

"At the 18th, we provide the most reachable par-5 on the course (517 yards), while the green is the most elevated with the most severe challenge around the green," says Davis. "An aggressive play at the hole can produce another short birdie putt, but a miss can again leave a stern challenge. It is a finish where a player could enter three down and still have a very good chance to halve the match -- a great and dramatic finish."

For more information about The Old American Golf Club, visit http://thetribute.com/.