Golf

Why the PGA of America believes North Texas can become the “Silicon Valley” of golf

Courtesy of PGA of America

Sitting in a ballroom at the Omni Frisco Hotel, just steps away from the Dallas Cowboys’ billion-dollar practice facility known as The Star, golfing great Lee Trevino spoke of the PGA of America moving its headquarters to Frisco.

Trevino, the six-time major champion and North Texas native, has no question that the PGA will match what Jerry Jones and the Cowboys brought to the city.

“I know Frisco was very excited when Mr. Jones came up here and built the practice facility and did what he did,” Trevino said during a PGA of America event this week.

“But he didn’t do anything that we’re not going to do. I’m here to tell you -- the PGA is going to be phenomenal.”

That is what PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh envisions to build in the coming years. Waugh believes Frisco can become golf’s “Silicon Valley” with the PGA of America coming to town.

The sport has so many different organizations that it’s almost impossible to have a central “golf” headquarters.

The PGA Tour, which runs every significant tournament outside of the four majors, is based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The USGA, which runs the U.S. Open, has its headquarters in Far Hills, New Jersey. Then there’s Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, which runs the Masters, and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland, which runs the British Open.

That’s why the PGA of America, which runs the PGA Championship, is excited about what can be created with its move to North Texas.

“We want to create a community of golf,” Waugh said. “We have the chance to turn this into more than anything that’s existed in golf.”

The $520 million project includes everything from two 18-hole golf courses to a short course to retail space to an Omni resort. The 600-acre development is being built on the northern end of Frisco, just west of the Dallas North Tollway and south of U.S. 380.

The golf courses, “East” and “West,” are expected to break ground by the end of the year and open for play in 2022.

The East Course will be the more challenging course where the 2027 and 2034 PGA Championships, as well as other PGA-sanctioned championships, will be held. Gil Hanse is designing the track that will stretch more than 7,600 from the back tees.

“It’s a site that has tons of potential, but it also has a few issues that we have to work on and get rectified, soil being one of them,” said Hanse, who has helped Colonial Country Club with its renovations in recent years.

“We’ll have to use some shaping, some creativity, actually move a little more dirt than we would like to, but I think at the end of the day my partner Jim Wagner and I are always trying to create golf courses that look and feel like they belong there.”

The West Course is being designed by Beau Welling as a more playable, “fun” setup designed for golfers of all levels.

“We want people of different levels to have fun and go play, and play together,” Welling said. “I want to be able to come here with my mother, who is not as good of a player as me, and us have fun together.

“You can still challenge the best players in the world to get a score and protect par in the way you place hazards and the way you design green contours. But the totality of being able to do this, to get people here, being together, sense of community, gathering, golf is still a recreation and needs to be fun for all levels.”

The courses will be owned by the City of Frisco and the golf facilities will be open to local high school golfers.

Waugh has high hopes for the game with the move to Frisco and all the possibilities that exist from it. He sees golf as becoming even more popular and the PGA of America using its 29,000-plus members to grow the game.

“We can make it more welcoming, more inclusive, more available,” Waugh said. “We can make the game look a little more like the world. We can maybe make the world look a little more like the game.”

Trevino time

Trevino never disappoints in rehashing old stories, and did so again this week as the keynote speaker at the PGA event.

He talked about his life, going from the Marine Corps to winning a Pro-Am at Fort Worth’s old Glen Garden Country Club (now home of TX Whiskey) in 1961 to his six majors.

But his best line might have come when he went on a rant about the “anchoring ban” in golf.

“It’s real simple what to do -- the putter has to be the shortest club in the bag,” Trevino said. “Then you cover all bases. If a guy wants a putter 40 inches long, his pitching wedge has to be 40 inches long.”

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