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Re:Ron Whitten's review of Dallas National Golf Club
« Reply #25 on: March 15, 2004, 06:12:46 AM »
I just read Whitten's review and it was excellent. In this day of shallow reviews it is refreshing to read a critical and thoughful review.

I also thought it was interesting how he distanced himself from the course ranking and its criteria.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2004, 06:14:01 AM by Tom MacWood »


Re:Ron Whitten's review of Dallas National Golf Club
« Reply #26 on: March 15, 2004, 07:51:00 AM »
As one who has played Dallas National (6 weeks ago) let me offer my observations.

1.  I think that Ron Whitten's review was a fair one, even if a bit contrarian.  The course has probably received a bit too much hype, for various reasons, and Ron tried to prick that bubble, and rightly so.  In his pricking, I think he went a bit over the top (by dissing it as not a "Top 100" course)--there are a lot of tracks (many of them high up) on the various rankings that would not be particularly flattered by any comparison to DN.  DN is a very good golf cousrse.

2.  That being saId, this course (AS ANY NEW COURSE!!!) will find its place in the Pantheon (if it does) only over time.  I have said and will continue to say such about new courses of similar quality which I have played (e.g. Pacific Dunes, Kingsbarns, Applebrook).

3.  Getting back to the course, here are its main strengths

   --A reasonably compact (good flow from green to tee) routing over a very broad canvas.  In many ways, fitting 18 good and flowing holes on a 300(?) acre track is HARDER to do that fitting them into a 120 yard "gemlike" property.  No?

   --Walkable.  My 57-year old body survived over it without noticeable myocaridal infarction  and this after a wild wedding weekend in Oklahoma (oxymoron aleryt!(s)?).

   --Excellent variety.  Uphill/downhill/flat, bend right/bend left, wide/narrow.  Perhaps a bit short in the "short" department--no really driveable "4's" that I can remember, not enough medium "4s", nor any really "Short" "3".

   --But....this course was built to (hopefully) hold BIG tournaments.  Maybe for the big boys, 175 from the tips is a "drop shot."  Speaking of "Misison Statements" this is a course that could easily hold a US Open or PGA, and not embarrass the guys form Far Hills or Palm Beach Gardens.

   -VERY interesting greens.  Hard to comment on them after only one play, and one in the middle of winter, for that.  However, their contour and intregration with the likely angles of approach from the fairways/tees seems admirable.

   --Excellent "maintenance Meld."  The course played surprisingly fast and firm, particularly on the greens, which reminds me...

   --the 17th is a GREAT hole.  Sure it looks a bit goofy with the channell of cut limestone between the tee and the green, but the corridor gives it character, and the green is something else.  It looks simple (as most things do from 220+ yards), but to get the ball close you absolutely have to hit a perfect long and high iron to the front of the green, even with a back pin.  I know this for a fact. ;)

Finally, I probably should disqualify myself from this thread since Dallas National is the first and only Fazio I have played (not counting uncle George).  But, Naaahh, I wont.........

Anybody who gets a chance to play DN, DO!
« Last Edit: March 15, 2004, 07:56:15 AM by Rich Goodale »


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Re:Ron Whitten's review of Dallas National Golf Club
« Reply #27 on: March 15, 2004, 11:50:47 AM »
Like at many modern courses, the tees one chooses to play at Dallas National makes a huge difference on how "playable" the course is, and how much variety it offers.

In terms of short holes, the par 5 #2 is very reachable with two well executed shots for all but the very short hitter.  The par 3 #3 is generally a W-7, playing downwind (and when it is into the wind, #13 is going to play comparitively shorter).  My son has driven the short par 4, #7, and #9, I believe, may be had under certain conditions.

Long holes, #s 8 and 16 can be monsters from all the way back into the predominant wind, but the greens and surrounds allow for a pitch or chip.

From my perspective, DN is not a power golf course, but one which requires a great deal of thought from the tee, then on the next shot.  If the golfer is a bit mentally lazy, the configuration of the greens makes the second, third and subsequent shots all that more difficult.

The 18th hole, a mid-length par 5 into the predominant wind is a good example.  Off the tee, the low, heavy rough area to the right guides you to the left side of the fairway which is guarded by trees.  From there, the play is to the right side of the fairway again guarded by the rough and swail.  The optimal angle to most pin positions, however, is to the far left of the fairway.  From the comfortable right side, a wedge shot 3rd to a back pin position is nearly impossible (25' - 30' shelf with death over the green) to get close.  From the harder to find left side, you have the length of the green, but still have to be precise to deal with the severe undulations.

In terms of Whitten's article, more talk about the course and less about Fazio would have been useful.  Fazio and MacDonald seem to get punished often for stating their high objectives, and in Fazio's case, for his high standing in the profession.  For those who can get to DN and get on, it is really a treat.  Don't be put-off by the principals' high expectations.  After all, can anything great ever be created by people who set out to be mediocre?  It may be hard, but put yourselves in Fazio's or MacDonald's shoes in their proclamations.  Also, remember that what gets said and reported is often out of context and not with the intended audience in mind.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2004, 11:55:19 AM by Lou_Duran »


Re:Ron Whitten's review of Dallas National Golf Club
« Reply #28 on: March 15, 2004, 12:12:26 PM »

I echo your sentiments. The thing to understand is that it's OK having critical comments from any source (Whitten or otherwise) but take the overall context of the DN review (it's more about what Fazio has done collectively) and compare it to the empty approach Whitten takes during his joint Hidden Creek / Friar's Head reviews. Talk about a lovefest with little detail.

It is very easy for people to "tag" a particular label on someone -- Tom Fazio is the easy prey because in some instances he overstates his ability (egos are that way with all architects!) and because of his messy handling of restoration projects. Many simply develop amnesia on the many superlative designs he has created. And, in a good number of instances -- people really have only played small smattering of his layouts to provide some sort of long term assessment of his work to date.

Truth be told in the last 30 years -- besides Pete Dye is there anyone who has created the vast portfolio of first rate original designs than what TF has done thus far? Yes, there are clear departures in styles and results from others -- Doak, C&C, Smyers, etc, etc, but in many ways Fazio resembles the NY Yankees -- it's easy to attack him as public enemy #1.

Dallas National was bound to take hits from people who simply have a bug up their butt against something being talked about so much and on top of that coming from Texas of all places. If the course was on Long Island and done by another "more preferred" architect I am sure the feelings would have been different.

I don't doubt much of Texas golf is all hat and no cattle (pardon my Texas/speak) but Dallas National is well done because of the inherent qualities of the terrain and the manner by which Tom Fazio and his folks have provided a stunning array of holes that will never leave your memory long after playing IMHO.

For those who can play it -- I would say your time will be well spent. ;)


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Re:Ron Whitten's review of Dallas National Golf Club
« Reply #29 on: March 15, 2004, 12:30:14 PM »

I am much more upbeat about Texas golf than most of you northeast types.  As you will soon see in the DMNs ranking, there are numerous new courses on the top 50 list.  Fazio's other local course of high repute, Vaquero, made it as #3.

But what I am finding is that there are a whole bunch more less well-known courses that are trully delightful.  Spanish Oaks near Austin is one we discussed, which I liked immensely, and compares very well with Cimarron Hills.

Gentle Creek, D.A. Weibring's design in Prosper, some 30 miles north of Dallas, is fantastic with great greens and surrounds, and a firm-fast maintenance meld (which fits the windy, rather open conditions perfectly).

I understand that the Player course at the Woodlands is real neat, with a very interesting set of greens.  And Tom Kite's course in Kerrville (W of San Antonio, whose name escapes me) is built on a large scale and supposed to be well worth the effort of getting there (Riverhill is another course in this area that's great fun).

One would think that I get paid to be a Texas golf booster, but I am not.  There is a lot more here than meets the eye.  Even Cirba's and Vostinak's "favorite", Texas Star by Keith Foster in Euless, is worth the trip.  Now, if I could only find a local rag to edit which would feed my habit!  ;D
« Last Edit: March 15, 2004, 12:33:44 PM by Lou_Duran »


Re:Ron Whitten's review of Dallas National Golf Club
« Reply #30 on: March 15, 2004, 04:50:56 PM »

How much of a difference do you believe there is between DN and Vaquero since they did finish #2 & #3 in the Dallas Morning News poll? Is Vaquero worthy of national fanfare?

Also, what gives with Champions / Cypress Creek finishing #5?

Thanks ...

P.S. Kudos to the Dallas Morning News in providing a listing of top courses by dollar value to play. For the average "joe" and "jane" who don't have access to the ultra private layouts that's a nice touch.


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Re:Ron Whitten's review of Dallas National Golf Club
« Reply #31 on: March 15, 2004, 09:03:02 PM »

I like Vaquero alot; a top 100 modern in my estimation, though toward the last quarter of that list.  It is a much milder version of DN, very well done with close attention to detail, and top notch conditioning.  It plays to around 7,100 yards from the back, with five par threes and a par of 71 (74.2/133).  

The Vaquero site is nicely rolling and wooded (some of the trees I could do without), but is not nearly as dramatic as DN's.  Width is sufficient for the most part, though the coastal or native bermuda is allowed to grow wild not far from the primary rough in some places (it was as much as a foot high, and supposedly is only cut twice a year).  Where the rough receives any migrating fertilizer and irrigation, it is unplayable, but apparently, the club likes the contrast to the other grasses.

The bent greens were suffering when I played it last September, but I understand that this was an unusual temporary situation.  The zoysia fairways, as I recall, were a bit soft, and the green entries were too inconsistent to feel comfortable with the ground game.

Vaquero is part of a high-end gated residential real estate development, so it will have homes around it.  I don't recall the land plan, but it seems that density, lot sizes, and setbacks were in keeping with the upscale nature of the development.  Brian Watts has a big home on the course, and several other touring pros are members there (I am fairly sure that you have to buy a lot to join).  Supposedly, the course and the practice facilities give them everything they need to keep their game tour-ready.  I can't remember who it was, but one of the pros commented about going out to certain parts of the course and beating multiple shots to the greens (which I am sure endears him to the superintendent and the regular members).

For my more pedestrian tastes, the club goes way overboard with service.  They just can't seem to do enough for you, and apparently, that is precisely what the members want.  All in all, it is great addition to the Lone Star State.

I don't recall where I put Vaquero in my Texas list, but it would be in my top 10, and well below Dallas National (which I thought was rated properly in the GW list).  I am not a big fan of Champions- Cypress, though I have a lot of respect for Ralph Plummer's work.  I need to play that course again as when I did several years ago, it was very wet and the greens were super slow.  I suspect that its high ranking is affected by its history and tradition, as well as its reputation for having a very deep membership of low single-digit members.

Colonial's ranking as #1 reflects in part its rich history and tradition as well.  It is a very, very good golf course, though, in my opinion, a few notches below Dallas National, and probably a bit below Vaquero (though I have not played the latter enough to say for sure).    


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