John Colligan described it as a “total transformation.”
Anyone who might have played Chester W. Ditto Golf Course won’t recognize the new course on the same property in North Arlington now known as Texas Rangers Golf Club.
“If you played out here all your life as Ditto, I could blindfold you and put you in the middle and you wouldn’t know where you are,” Colligan said earlier this week as Texas Rangers Golf Course held its grand opening ceremony.
“Some holes are in the same corridor, but they’re either longer or bunkered differently. It’s a completely different golf course.”
Colligan, along with his right-hand man at Arlington-based Colligan Golf Design, Trey Kemp, spearheaded the $24 million renovation project that has been met with positive reviews from across the local golfing world.
The new course provides a challenge for every level of golfer, from budding professionals to casual golfers to beginners.
No. 6, for instance, is a short par-3, playing between 132 yards from the back tees and 96 yards from the front tees. It’s got one of the biggest greens on the courses, but is also guarded by one of the biggest bunkers.
Depending on wind and pin placement, it can play anywhere from being a birdie hole to hoping to simply get out with a par.
No. 13 is a reachable par-5, but, as Colligan said, “You get too greedy, you pay the price.”
All in all, the new course has a chance to become a staple course in North Texas. It is on the higher-end price scale for your average player, but it’s certainly got pizzazz and potential.
The Web.com Tour could consider hosting a tournament there, Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams confirmed, as well as other tournaments.
“I think we’ll be considered for a lot of different tournaments,” Williams told the Star-Telegram. “This course is that good. I think we’ll definitely be in consideration for a Web.com Tour event.
“Arlington has hosted some of the best sporting events in America. Now, with this course, we’ll have the chance to do the same with golf.”
Williams is also excited about the number of visitors the course will draw into the city, acknowledging the reason behind such a project is for it to become a money-making endeavor for the city.
“This is going to help people stay an extra day or two here in tourism, and people will be coming just to play this golf course,” Williams said. “That is going to be an awesome thing. Y’all know what that does? That brings ‘OPM’ into Arlington -- other people’s money. Awesome thing. Love it.”
As excited as Williams is for the city to have this “Class A” golf course and be partnered with the Rangers in another capacity, he made it a point to mention the course will still honor the “Ditto” family name -- one of the pioneering families of Arlington -- with the clubhouse scheduled to open later this year.
Chester W. Ditto was a longtime Arlington resident who donated the land the course is built on to the city.
On the golf front, several former and current Rangers gave the course a thumbs up on Monday.
Reliever Chris Martin is an Arlington native and remembers playing Ditto countless times as a youngster. He doesn’t think there’s much comparison between the two courses.
“This is a lot more open, not as many trees,” Martin said. “My parents probably hated me since I’d spend like $20 for balls and stuff playing Ditto, but you don’t have to worry about as many trees here. There’s a little bit of water, but it’s pretty open so the winds are a big factor out here. You just have to hit the ball straight.”
Said Rangers manager Chris Woodward: “It’s cool to see places like this with our name attached to it. It’s a big thing for the community, and it’s cool to share that namesake with them and be a part of it.”
The golf course is the only MLB-themed course in the world. And it’s evident from the start with an “on-deck” circle right off the No. 1 tee and overlooking the vast practice area.
The yardage signs in the fairways are designed like home-plate, and each hole has its own baseball phrase such as “paint the corner” or “power alley.”
For Colligan, all of the holes are “signature holes.” After all, asking a golf designer for his “favorite hole” is like asking a parent for their “favorite kid.”
“A lot of people talk about signature holes and I don’t know why you can’t have 18 signature holes,” Colligan said, smiling. “I think we’ve gotten pretty close to having that out here.”