Mac Engel

Year 1 of The Nelson at Trinity Forest was a shank

The early results are in, and Year 1 of the AT&T Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest Golf Club played out like the land on which it was built.


The ambitious venture of relocating The AT&T Byron Nelson from the Four Seasons at Las Colinas to the links-style course in South Dallas at Trinity Forest GC, which is built on a landfill, did not go as well as The Red Pants would have preferred.

Only the rain that brought a "cold" front this morning helped to rescue, and ruin, the final day. The rain brought the temperatures down from the mid-90s but caused a delay to the final day that did not end until 8:30 p.m. in front of a gallery smaller than the Pro Am, and not on CBS but The Golf Channel.

"I think it's a great golf course," former U.S. President George W. Bush said during his visit with the CBS crew on Sunday afternoon.

Hands down Dubya's appearance in the booth was the highlight of the four-day telecast of a tournament won by Aaron Wise at 8:25 p.m. for his first career PGA Tour win.

Bush may be right, the course is great. And it won't matter if the people, and the players, want no part of this place.

Don't blame the Red Pants, the men and women of the Salesmanship Club in Dallas who help with so much of this tourney's logistics and considerable charitable efforts. They did all they could, and they are not God.

When I walked the course on Wednesday, I was cautiously optimistic that all would be OK, with the only concerns being the heat and the troubling lack of not a single tree on the course.

I like the course because it's vastly different from the standard blast-and-putt courses so typical of today's game in the U.S. Foreign players like it, while the Americans are ish on it.

By Sunday, I was ordering up another hot plate of crow. This thing stank, and it's obvious the players hate it.

As Randy Galloway once told me: "Mac! You can never be negative enough."


Between the heat, the course, the noticeable low crowd turnout, how it looked on TV and the lack of PGA Tour names at the tournament, organizers should sweat that the Nelson is destined to move to Frisco.

The tournament has two more years to give itself a shot at remaining at Trinity Forest; if Year 2 and Year 3 of The Nelson play out anywhere nearly the way it did this weekend, not even Tiger Woods could save it.

The Nelson is contractually committed to Trinity Forest through 2021; figure if things are not improving by 2020, event organizers will be hard pressed not to migrate with the rest of the world up the North Dallas Tollway to Frisco.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings will protest and lobby against a proposed move, but even he won't be able to stop it if the tournament can't draw the world's best players.

His preference to push for this event in South Dallas is a noble attempt to spur growth in that part of town, but in this case, he's an idealist chasing a ghost. The Nelson will have zero impact on growth in Dallas.

The PGA Tour is always going to have a tournament in the Dallas area, and it's a question of where.

How players talk about Trinity Forest among themselves in the locker room in the next few weeks will ultimately determine whether The Nelson will remain at TFGC.

If players are positive, they will not only return but others will want to join. If they bag on it, figure future fields will remain mostly free of names you know, and event organizers will have no choice but to flee the forest.

This week's field featured one player ranked in the top 10, Jordan Spieth. He is from Dallas. His home course is Trinity Forest.

Publicly, all of the players were nice. Privately, however, the reviews of Trinity Forest were not great.

Some of this is just a person's normal reaction to change; a jump to a new course needs time. And some of it is a pack of spoiled, pampered golfers who just do not like a links-style course.

When the PGA of America moves its headquarters from West Palm Beach, Fla., to Frisco, as has been reported by, it will build a course that will host a major championship. The allure of hosting The Nelson right there at the course slated to be built by 2020 may simply be too great to ignore.

It would be akin to the organizers of the Cotton Bowl who eventually were forced to move its games from the charming, ancient dump off a venue at Fair Park in Dallas over to JerryWorld in Arlington.

Year 1 of The Nelson at Trinity Forest is over, and there is no way to spin this other than it was befitting for a landfill.