DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Can you imagine the Byron Nelson Championship being played in South Dallas? A lot of city leaders and golf legends say they can! It’s all because of an announcement made Friday by the City of Dallas, AT&T Inc. and Southern Methodist University that a 400-acre championship golf development will be built on an old landfill site.
Mayor Mike Rawlings gave details on the new Trinity Forest Golf Course. “Which would include an 18-hole championship golf course, a 9-hole short course, [and] an administrative teaching facility for the First Tee of Greater Dallas,” he explained.
And that ‘championship’ quality doesn’t come cheap. Rawlings said, “It depends on what else we want to do on this, how fancy the clubhouse is gonna be. If there are going to be cabins. So, it could go from $20 to $60 million.”
You probably are thinking that PGA, millions and landfill aren’t synonymous. But the location of the course, off of Loop 12 and I-45, is at the site of a landfill that the city has already committed to cleanup environmentally. “It’s gonna be hundreds of millions of dollars of economic develop and we get to leverage the remediation that we already have to do. That’s a win, win, win ,win, win ,win, win, win,” Mayor Rawlings said enthusiastically.
Along with civic leaders and officials from the PGA, Dallas-born golfing legend Lee Trevino was also on hand. The 6-time major champion that the Trinity Forest Course should be highly anticipated. Believe me when I tell you this, this is a big deal,” he said.
Part of the course design will incorporate areas for novices and young people. The First Tee of Greater Dallas will be a part of that conceptual process. According to the First Tee website, the organization “provides young people with character-building and life skills lessons using golf as the platform.”
Being a Mexican American Trevino spoke of the opportunities he had and the importance of the non-profit golf program. “When I was playing the Tour in 1967 and started, we had 12 to 15 blacks playing on the tour [and] five Hispanics. Today we have hardly any,” he said. “This First Tee is important simply because it is gonna give the minority kids not only the chance to learn how to play golf, but it’s like Mr. Barrow said [play in the game of] life.”
While providing opportunities for young people in South Dallas is part of the mission, Trevino explained that those very children are the link to PGA tournaments. “Eventually when we get a facility like this facility that they’re going to build here, we’re gonna get some guys going on the tour. We gonna get them to play with the big boys,” he said. “We want to build a traditional golf course out here that we can get a big dance. We can get a big tournament.”
The funds to clean up the landfill and create a useable infrastructure will still need to be approved by the Dallas City Council, but there doesn’t seem to be much if any opposition. Once the ‘green light’ is given construction on the project could begin as soon as the spring.
Now about the Byron Nelson — since 2003 it has been known as the HP Byron Nelson Championship, but AT&T becomes the title sponsor of the tournament in 2015. The PGA and Salesmanship Club of Dallas have a contract with the TPC Four Seasons, but it ends in 2018.
“Keeping that tournament in Irving is going to be a priority; we want to stay it here, we want to keep it here. I think you’ll find everyone in the city engaged in making that experience a great one,” Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Maura Gast said. Gast went on to point out that the Four Seasons is the only 5-Star resort in Texas. “Ultimately it will become the tour’s [PGA] decision. I know Irving will do the best job it can with the Salesmanship Club, with the Four Seasons, to be in the best position to keep it.”
But consider the investment AT&T is making toward the new Trinity Forest course and the words of PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem at Friday’s press conference. When asked about the likelihood of the tournament in Las Colinas moving to the new Dallas course Finchem said, in part, “The possibility exists that one day the Byron Nelson Championship may indeed one day be played at the Trinity Forest Facility.”
If proponents of the project have their way the main course of the Trinity Forest Golf Course will be ready for play in 2016.
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