Golf

Despite complaints by players and fans, PGA Tour commissioner defends AT&T Byron Nelson

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan dismissed any notion that the AT&T Byron Nelson has lost some of its luster since moving to Trinity Forest Golf Club in South Dallas two years ago.

The tournament has drawn the ire of some players and fans, complaining about everything from the course to the shade to the location.

“Early on when you get a new golf course that nobody has played, you get a lot of varying perspectives,” Monahan said on Wednesday as he attended a news conference with Chuck Schwab at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club.

“It’s a little long view. The bones of that golf course, so many positive things and the course is maturing. Every week you’re going to hear different perspectives, but I think overall I was really pleased with the feedback I heard come from our players coming out of the second year. I feel really good about the path it’s on.”

Still, players have been vocal about their displeasure with the course.

Matt Kuchar became one of the most visible critics in Trinity Forest’s debut year in 2018, and Brooks Koepka wasn’t overly supportive of the new course following this year’s tournament.

Asked what he thought of the course, Koepka simply said: “I like the old one better.”

Kopeka went on to say that more fans showed up at the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas, adding: “It was definitely a fun place to play.”

Others who have criticized the course publicly include Mark Calcavecchia, the 1989 British Open champion, who wrote on Twitter that Trinity Forest “looks awful on TV.”

Billy Horschel, who won the 2017 Nelson in its final year at TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas, chimed in: “Trinity Forest does nothing for me. I miss the atmosphere of the closing holes at Las Colinas. Easily feel the energy from the crowd.”

The crowd has been disappointing in the first two years at Trinity Forest.

In a recent article in D Magazine, Nelson tournament director Jon Drago said preliminary data had approximately 144,000 people attending this year’s tournament. That’s down from the 2018 attendance in Trinity Forest’s inaugural year, and almost half the attendance in 2017 (280,000).

But Monahan is bullish on the future of the Nelson with a stable partner in AT&T and an optimistic long-term view on Trinity Forest as the course matures with time.

“We’re really thrilled with the way the AT&T Byron Nelson performed,” Monahan said. “We’re thrilled with the trajectory that that golf course is on with positive word of mouth.”

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