Let Me Sum Up

Will it really cost $8 million to fix the South Dallas golf course site? Who knows. Fore!

Will it really cost $8 million to fix the South Dallas golf course site? Who knows. Fore!

Dallas National Golf Course
The Trinity Forest Golf Course will be beautiful, but it won't be Dallas National. Avid Golfer

Because Bill Nichols gave us an update last week on the Trinity Forest Golf Course, let’s see what all is going on behind the scenes with your favorite South Dallas development.

First, it must be said that the planners of this project have so far pulled together everything they’ve promised. We told you a few months ago that Ben Crenshaw’s company was the leader in the clubhouse, and, sure enough, that is who will design the course. Crenshaw turned it down more than once, but he got a call from Dallas pro Harrison Frazar that convinced him and his partner the site was worthwhile. Once he walked the site, the challenge spoke to him.

The course’s development is moving quickly, because work has been going on for more than a year. (The engineering company was first hired in late 2011, after all.) The tree survey by the city is complete, the heavy machinery is in place, and the landfill capping is set to begin.

The first big question, then, is this: Where in the world is that $12 million going? You know, the money the city has promised to the project. City Manager Mary Suhm said “$8 million to $9 million” of that will go to the landfill remediation, but the folks who’ve walked the site say they barely see $1 million to $2 million worth of work that needs to be done. That’s because the site was capped once, back in the 1980s, and it still has the six to eight feet of dirt on top of it needed in many places.

The next question — where the facility for the young men of First Tee will be — has been answered: on the north side of Loop 12, near the driving range, far from the clubhouse (which will be on the south side of Loop 12). Those of you who were worried that First Tee was just political cover in this deal, and that they’d get ultimately screwed, it’s all okay.

Yes, they were an afterthought. (First Tee was first approached only one week before the big announcement, after all.) But de facto project manager Jonas Woods is giving First Tee everything for which it had hoped. The youth group’s facility is going to be top-notch. But, yeah, the idea that country club golfers paying $150,000-plus will actually mingle with these poor kids from South Dallas? That was never going to happen.

About those golfers: I’ve been skeptical that you can find the 400 or so you need to fill this club. In fact, it’s my understanding that Dallas National is accepting members for the first time in forever. And as one golfer told me, “This [South Dallas] course is going to look great, but you’ll still hear the highways while you’re playing. Let’s face it, it’s no Dallas National.”

But Woods has told interested parties that he’s gotten 50 people to commit to at least $100,000 toward this project, and he says he’s sure he will ultimately get 150 people to do so. So let’s assume this high-priced country club model — one nobody else in the country is attempting right now — works. And let’s assume that no one in Dallas really cares how much the remediation really costs. (Tax money. Pfft.) And let’s assume that no matter what you hear, Crenshaw’s team is going to get paid, because no one does this level of work for free. They just get paid in less-direct ways.

If we assume all that, and we’re fine with all that, then, yes, this is big win for all involved. As I’ve written, it’s huge for SMU. The city will get $40 million in Byron Nelson money, whereas it only sees maybe a third of that now, at most. And First Tee gets nine holes and a nice new site.

Oh, yeah, and the Byron Nelson wins, because the PGA Tour (whose reps have already been to the site a few times) has wink-wink promised a pretty sweet deal to the developers and AT&T. So long as AT&T puts its name and money where it needs to be, the Nelson will get moved to the back end of the tour to a much better date. Perhaps it will even be part of the FedEx Cup — the last four tourneys of the year, which determine golf’s points-leader champion. That means it would finally get top names playing the tourney again.

Will Trinity Forest get a U.S. Open? Who knows? But so far everything is going as promised. And that means you should be happy with it — so long as you’re not worried too much about who is spending what where, and you don’t care about who owns the land that will be the parking lots near the course, and as long as it doesn’t bother you that the people who are capping the site could have an incentive to save as much money as possible, and so long as you’re not bothered by the flammable gasses that can seep up from such a site, and as long as you don’t ever want to play the course yourself (that’ll be available to you only during high-priced charity tourneys), and if you ignore that the person running this entire project thought Victory Park was going to be a slam-dunk success. Because all that is just nitpicking.