Let Me Sum Up

Why SMU will benefit most from the southern Dallas golf course. Plus: Junior Campers!

Why SMU will benefit most from the southern Dallas golf course. Plus: Junior Campers!

Look, I know what I said — that I wouldn’t write about the southern Dallas golf course again. But I feel like Al Pacino in Godfather 3: Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

Because here I am, minding my own business, reading emails from City Hall workers who were telling me how much they agree that Mary Suhm gets a free pass, and then Tod Robberson comes along and starts trolling me.

He says things that are insane. I won’t go over it all. Just read the blog post and see my comment. I think it’s pretty self-explanatory.

 Because we’re speculating, let me tell you what I think this project really is, at its heart: a showcase for SMU to improve its golf team.

Bottom line is that Robberson once again is pushing the notion that this golf course, which the city should vote on today, is a southern Dallas economic development project. Of course development could occur around it. But we’re talking probability here. The odds that it will do so increase if you’ve got a coherent plan, one undertaken on sound principles that look at density, location, etc. This is just a hope and a prayer.

But because we’re speculating, let me tell you what I think this project really is, at its heart: a showcase for SMU to improve its golf team.

SMU has successfully stayed in the background in this, even though they’re one of the three named partners, along with the city and AT&T. I gave you a scenario that suggested perhaps AT&T and developers could work together (à la Harbor Shores in Michigan) to create a great new development.

But I gave the mayor and the city too much credit. Nothing of the sort has been studied or planned.

But behind the scenes, SMU seems to be the one buggering this cat. For example, I’ve been told they’ve already drawn up the paperwork to buy maintenance equipment and lease golf carts for the thing. (SMU, through a spokesman, declined to answer specific questions, saying only that it looked forward to working with its partners on the project.)

The funny thing is that this model — the high-end college course model — makes total sense. It’s a smart way to fund a high-end course. Oklahoma State did this with Karsten Creek, building a top-10 U.S. course, getting donors to pay for most of it, and using that to help recruit and fund-raise so that it’s now the dominant college team in the country.

 At least this model makes financial sense. Donors pour money into “nonprofits” that will work with this project, the team gets a splendid new course and operating costs are covered by high green fees.

(If you want to play it, you can! It’ll only cost you $300 on the weekends.)

The rest of the country followed (Stanford, Georgia Tech, etc.), and now many schools in the Big 12 are doing or have done the same thing.

Now, if you’re an SMU golf team donor, you may be saying, “Wait a minute? Didn’t I just contribute $4.5 million to build a practice facility at Dallas Athletic Club in far East Dallas?”

Yes you did! And players and recruits hated the drive so much the school quietly approached closer clubs the very next year and tried to get them to build one too.

SMU hopes this solves all those problems, according to plugged-in tea leave readers. Like Karsten Creek, the southern Dallas course will be designed by a top golf architect.

(I mentioned Tom Doak earlier, but AT&T was just testing the waters there. It appears Ben Crenshaw, whose reps toured the land earlier this week, is the top choice. Still, no one is sure if he will take the job because of the challenges inherent in the project.)

Again, this model at least makes financial sense. The SMU golf donors pour money into the “nonprofits” that will work with this project, the team gets a splendid new course and a major tourney to use as a carrot for top recruits, and then the operating costs can be covered by the high green fees such courses demand — while still giving discounts to enough folks to make the mayor’s “semi-private” statement remain technically true.

It’s just not a southern Dallas development deal, no matter what Robberson says. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Elsewhere

Shocking! An editorial (rightly) condemning Mike Miles because of what was found in the DISD audit. Still waiting on the one complaining about Mary Suhm in light of the city’s audit.

Quick sports point: Evan Grant talked about how much the Rangers will miss Michael Young in the clubhouse. There have been several other reporters on TV, radio and in print echoing the sadness he’s gone. I just have to ask: Is at least some of this because Young was such a good source to many media members, both on and off the record?

The city should enact a bicyclist-protection plan today, which is good half-ass start to a fully formed bike plan. Tim Rogers at D Magazine — who called me an “effing hipster” when I bought my bike — has a good piece this month giving background as to why we’re such a bad bike city.

Everything I wanted to say about Rick Perry’s ridiculous “fetal pain” announcement yesterday was said by Unfair Park’s Anna Merlan a half hour after he said it.

Retweets

YOU’LL GET NOTHING AND LIKE IT, SMITH!

Still waiting on word about the Junior Campers.

R Gerald Turner SMU President golf story
R. Gerald Turner declined to comment on SMU's role with the course, though a spokesman said SMU was looking forward to working with AT&T and the city. Photo courtesy of SMU
DISD superintendent Mike Miles
DISD chief Mike Miles is in hot water again — deservedly so. I'll bet Mary Suhm giggles when she reads stories about him. Photo courtesy of DISD
Michael Young
Michael Young will be missed by the Rangers, say sports media types. Could it be that he will also be missed because he was such a good source, both on an off the record? Photo courtesy of Texas Rangers