Golfers who play regularly at Texas Star are going to be without a home course for almost four months as the 18-hole layout gets a major makeover.
But when the course reopens in October, golfers will find new greens, traps filled with lily-white sand and carts equipped with the latest GPS equipment.
“I’m looking forward to playing this course next year at this time,” said member Dale Harwell.
The course, which features tree-lined fairways and a series of elevation changes, has long been considered one of the top municipal courses in the state, and the work is being done to maintain its stature, said Glenda Hartsell, Texas Star’s general manager.
She pointed to Stevens Park Golf Course in Dallas as an example of another municipal course that has undergone a successful renovation.
The Euless City Council in March approved replacing the course’s 17-year-old bentgrass greens and redoing the course’s 80 bunkers, said city spokeswoman Betsy Deck. About $64,000 worth of ultra-dwarf Bermuda called Mini Verde, which is easier to maintain that bentgrass, will be grown on the greens. And roughly $72,000 worth of premier-white sand made from crushed quartz should mollify duffers who have complained about hitting out of stuff that’s more akin to common dirt than sand.
The new sand “will be much more playable,” said head golf pro Dan Walden. “The sand compacts a little better. It’s easier for the players to get the ball out and onto the green surface.”
Another $236,000 of improvements to the 275-acre golf course will include leveling and extending several tee boxes and reworking the No. 16 water hazard. Those changes were approved last week by the council.
“This whole thing has been planned for a long time,” Deck said. “They budgeted for it this year.”
New golf carts also were already planned, Walden said.
“We get new golf carts every three years,” Walden said. “We have bids out with Yamaha, E-Z Go and Club Car. They all work well with municipalities.”
Euless is looking into adding the Visage GPS system to Texas Star’s fleet of 80 carts, Walden said.
The GPS system not only gives players the ability to see each hole in its entirety, along with yardage points based on where the cart is stationed, but also lets the course track each cart.
Letting the course attendants track carts adds safety, Walden said.
“The pro shop has a weather system that allows us to instant message every golf cart about inclement weather,” Walden said. “Also, because we track the carts, we can locate any guest quicker if there’s a problem.”
Practice area to remain open
Closing the course for 107 days is a punch in the financial chest to the course, which in 2013 brought in $1,346,403 in greens fees and $339,999 in cart rentals.
Golfers played 35,890 rounds at Texas Star last year and an estimated 24,635 rounds will have been played by June 16, Hartsell said.
But she added that revenue lost during those months — traditionally the busiest of the year — will be covered from reserves.
Even with play suspended, however, Texas Star will remain a busy place.
The driving range, chipping and putting practice areas won’t close. And clinics, lessons and driving range events also will continue, Walden said.
Texas Star’s restaurant, Raven’s Grille, will also remain open as will the 7,000-square-foot Texas Star Conference Centre and 4,000-square-foot outdoor pavilion.
“We want to keep Texas Star in people’s minds, keep them aware of our facilities,” Hartsell said.
Important for growth
As much as the staff and administrators regret the inconvenience to members and guests, the project is being done proactively, said Hartsell, explaining that the city is lucky that the bentgrass has remained healthy for almost two decades.
“It’s a cool-weather grass that usually lasts only 15 to 20 years,” Hartsell said. “The USGA recommends this Bermuda for every course in our area. It requires less water, it loves hot weather, and a lot of courses are using it.”
Bermuda’s love of hot weather also is why the work couldn’t have been done during the winter, Walden said.
“We need the warmest weather possible to do this grass,” Walden said. “July and August are the fastest growing months for Bermuda.”
The white sand’s brightness against the verdant grass surrounding the bunkers will improve the course’s looks, too, Walden said.
Similarly, the work that will rescue the green-side pond on No. 16 has both aesthetic and practical benefits.
“That water hazard is a marsh,” Hartsell said. “We’re clearing out the cattails, dredging out the muck and putting in a liner and an aerator. Behind the pond is a beautiful rock wall that players will finally be able to see.”
‘A brand new old golf course’
If the success of the makeover at Stevens Park is any indication, patrons of Texas Star are going to be happy with the changes at their course.
Stevens Park, which cuts through the rolling hills of the Kessler Park neighborhood, reopened in 2011 after a complete redesign that closed the course for 310 days and included new tee boxes, fairways and greens on all 18 holes, and 38 new bunkers, said Jim Henderson, general manager.
A substantial amount of the $8.5 million cost was spent on erosion control, irrigation and a new maintenance facility, but the majority of it went into the links themselves, Henderson said.
“We ended up with a brand new old golf course,” Henderson said. “There was a certain amount of apprehension among the regular players. But since reopening we’ve won 16 national and statewide awards and recognitions.”
The regular players have been impressed with the Mini Verde putting surfaces, Henderson said.
“I can’t tell you how good it is,” Henderson said. “It’s as close to a bentgrass surface as you can get, with none of the hassles.”