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  • Writer's pictureMichael Davis

Trinity Forest Golf Club – AT&T Byron Nelson Tournament


Photos by Michael Davis, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Trinity Forest Golf Club 5000 S Great Trinity Forest Way Dallas, TX 75217



Year Opened: 2014

 

The AT&T Byron Nelson Returns Home to Dallas


There are two PGA stops in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, the only metropolitan area that host two events. The older of the two tournaments began in 1944 with the event’s namesake, Byron Nelson from Fort Worth, Texas, winning the inaugural event at Dallas’ Lakewood Country Club. The tournament has been played at various courses throughout the Dallas area. In 2018 the tournament celebrated its 50th Anniversary under the current name, with the opening of the tournament being played at Trinity Forest Golf Club in South Dallas – the move returned the tournament to Dallas after 35 years in Irving’s Las Colinas area.


The Trinity Forest Golf Club is located nine miles south of downtown Dallas off interstate 45 in the heart of the largest urban forest in the United States. The course is links style and sits on an area of less than 150 acres. Designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw with the intention to bring elite championship golf back to the City of Dallas, the new Trinity Forest Club course features dramatic green complexes and bunkering, with tall native grasses on a rolling meadow. The course is also the home course for the SMU men’s and women’s golf teams; the private course was an instant success, with club memberships owned by Tony Romo and Jordan Spieth.


In addition to the golf course, the Trinity River Audubon Center and Trinity Forest Golf Club partnered to implement a Blackland Prairie Restoration Plan, restoring 75 acres of Blackland Prairie with native grasses and vegetation, to create additional habitat opportunities for native plants and animals.


Food & Beverage 4

There are plenty of food and drinks throughout the course, either in the built-up suites or in the general-public concessions tents; most tents are operated by local groups as fundraisers. The concessions menu here has variety but lacks the overall wow that has been the staple at sports venues. The prices for various menu items are as follows: smoked chopped brisket sandwich or smoked link sausage sandwich $9, cheeseburgers $8, jumbo hot dogs $5.50, pulled pork sandwiches $8.50, deli hoagies, classic club subs, or chicken Caesar salad wraps $8, and jumbo hot dogs $5.50; a Bavarian Pretzel or peanuts cost $5.


The one wow concessions stand would be the Korean BBQ stand called Bibigo – this concessions tent serves Shrimp Kimchi Bao, Sweet and Spicy Chicken Skewers, Jap-Chae (noodles with beef and vegetables), and Bibi-Cones (ice cream cones filled with Bulgogi or Kimchi rice). These items aren’t low in price either, ranging from $8 to $12 each.


Coca-Cola is the beverage sponsor of the AT&T Byron Nelson, and sodas cost $5 for 16oz, with Smart Water at $7.50 and Dasani bottled water or Powerade for $4.50 if you want something besides soda. There are also plenty of alcoholic beverages throughout the course – Michelob Ultra is a proud sponsor of the event and is readily available, along with Estrella Jalisco, Texas’ own Ziegenbock, and Houston’s brewery Karbach Love Street. These beers are $8, while a glass of wine is $15.


Grey Goose is another sponsor, and their Grey Goose 19th Hole is open to the public and is located at the corner of the 13th green and the 14th tee. This location serves Grey Goose cocktails and soft drinks, and has both an air-conditioned indoor patio and an outdoor patio. In addition, the Katy Trail Ice House Pavilion is another open-to-the-public pavilion that has a beer garden style layout and views of the 4th green and 5th tee.


Atmosphere 4

The AT&T Byron Nelson has always been a go and be seen type of event for the DFW Metroplex, with most people’s idea of the event being to attend the golf tournament as a large social event. All ages and backgrounds from all over DFW can be seen walking the course throughout the weekend.


From the moment patrons step off the shuttles on South Great Trinity Forest Way, the AT&T Byron Nelson atmosphere begins. The main entrances have photo ops for fans to start their day – for example, last year there was a big 50 sign for fans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Byron Nelson tournament, and this year (2019) had a Mother’s Day photo set-up, with pink hats given to all the moms in attendance. The tournament’s merchandise pavilion is also at the entrance, for fans to pick up items either before they go on the course or for when they are ready to leave on the shuttles.



The box office, will call, and volunteer headquarters are also all near the shuttle drop-off. All patrons being shuttled in and walking thru the main entrance will arrive on the course at the 13th fairway, and there are anti-dust trail paths throughout the course. Fan’s options are to either find a golfer and be part of the gallery around the course, or set up in an area that not only has one green, but offers multiple greens and tees – this set up provides fans with more action, and allows them to get more involved in the golf action being played around the course. In addition, the course provides a kid zone, so parents can watch the golf action without distraction. There are also plenty of photo spots and course information signage creating more of an event than just the golf.


Like Trinity Forest’s predecessor at Las Colinas, there are plenty of suites around the course creating a party type crowd around the course. The atmosphere has toned down compared to the course at the Four Seasons, however, a lot of this has to do with the wide-open course at Trinity Forest; Trinity Forest is a link style spreading more fans across the course, instead of the few holes that Las Colinas held for fans to collaborate. The atmosphere has the potential to become even better than it was at Las Colinas, though, as long as the AT&T Byron Nelson continues to improve and give the golf fans of the Metroplex the best place to enjoy the PGA in Dallas.


Neighborhood 3

There really is no neighborhood around the Trinity Forest Golf Club located southeast from downtown Dallas. However, since patrons are shuttled nine miles to the course from Fair Park in Dallas, this section will focus on that area.


Fair Park is part of the state fairgrounds, and like Trinity Forest Golf Club doesn’t offer much in the immediate neighborhood except The Old Mill Inn Restaurant. This eatery was built in 1936 and serves a variety of southern home cooking options. However, fans here are within a four-mile radius of several great Dallas neighborhoods, so there are plenty of wonderful places for sightseeing, eating, and enjoying yourself during the week of the AT&T Byron Nelson.


Deep Ellum, The West End, Trinity Groves, and Uptown are all part of the downtown Dallas experience. Deep Ellum is a neighborhood filled with arts and entertainment venues, and has one of the best BBQ spots in the state of Texas, Pecan Lodge. The Angry Dog is another great little spot for travelers, especially those from Upstate New York, as Binghamton Spiedies are on the menu.


Deep Ellum Brewery Company and Braindead Brewing are up-and-coming spots for people who enjoy craft beers. The West End Historic District is also a must for newcomers to Dallas, as this is the area where the Kennedy Assassination happened, near the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. This museum gives you the chance to relive the November 22nd day in 1963 or talk to people on Dealey Plaza about a conspiracy theory. There is so much at The West End to choose from; check out this site for more information: https://www.dallaswestend.org.


If you are not searching for history, then visit Trinity Groves. Trinity Groves is a revitalized area with various restaurants and shopping. There are plenty of restaurants on the way thru Uptown on McKinney Avenue, but The Rustic on Howell Avenue is a good place because parking is much more accessible than on McKinney Ave. In addition, not many people think of Dallas as serving great pizza, but Campisi’s Restaurant on Mockingbird Lane will change your mind.


If Trinity Forest Golf Club was located at the state fairgrounds, the rating for the neighborhood would max out. However, having to travel nine miles to a course that hasn’t been developed, and doesn’t have a safe neighborhood, means a modest average overall neighborhood rating at this time.


Fans 4

The estimated attendance for this year’s tournament is about 200,000 for the four-day event. However, the negative reviews from fans that attended last year about the lack of shade and parking, along with this year’s inclement weather, makes the 200K number a modest hopeful reach. In general, though, the golf fans here are passionate – the calls of “Get in the hole!” on the greens are impressive, while the same calls as the players hit off the tee are just silly. But there are plenty of live moments on the course that television just can’t duplicate, such as the roar of a massive golf crowd when an athlete sinks a long putt or aces a hole-in-one during the tournament.


In general golf fans have a kind demeanor, as there is no my team vs. your team attitude that other sports tend to engender; golf fans just like to enjoy the day on the course while watching some amazing professional golfers make some incredible shots.


Access 3

The Trinity Forest Golf Club is located nine miles south of downtown Dallas, just off Interstate 45 at 5000 Great Trinity Forest Way, Dallas, TX. There are corporate parking lots near the course, but general parking is located at the Texas State Fairgrounds in Fair Park via Gate 15. The entrance to the parking lot is at the intersection of Haskell and Beeman; shuttles to and from the golf course are complimentary and take about 12 to 15 minutes each way.


Both the parking lots at Fair Park and the golf course itself can be reached via public transportation by the DART system. The DART system connects DFW airport to points around the city of Dallas, and DART has stops at Fair Park where patrons can access the shuttles to the course. Otherwise, ride the Green Line rail south to Buckner Station, and from Buckner Station take the Route 466 West bus to the Pemberton Hill/AT&T Byron Nelson stop. Route 466 West shuttles will run every 15 minutes from 7 am to 7 pm.


For Patrons wanting to use Uber/Lyft, spectators will be dropped off and picked up in a designated lot a short distance from Trinity Forest Golf Club’s main entrance. Then when you are ready to leave for the day, request your ride upon leaving the tournament, and your Uber or Lyft driver will let you know which spot they will be waiting in for pickup. Note that there are security checkpoints in the public parking lots, as well as at the main entrance for the tournament.


Once at the gates to the tournament, access flows thru with little wait. Spectators can bring in items such as umbrellas (without sleeves), binoculars, and chairs (without bags). Bags larger than 6” x 6” x 6” will not be allowed in, and mobile devices must always be kept on silent, but there is a designated “Cell Phone Zone” where calls may be placed or answered. The link style course provides fans easy walking and the opportunity to quickly move around to different holes based on the action.



Return on Investment 4

Daily Grounds tickets for the AT&T Byron Nelson begin at $45, and there are two single day hospitality (climate-controlled) tickets to choose from: $125 for Harwood District Club tickets (any day) showing views of the number 3 green, or $250 for tickets in the largest structure on the course, the Michelob Ultra Club (day specific), but the latter includes a complimentary buffet with beer, wine, and soft drinks. The 360-view tower has views of the number 5 green, number 6 tee, and the number 15 green. The tournament also offers free daily tickets to Military personnel, First Responders, and Youth (17 years and under).


Public parking is free at the Texas State Fair Grounds at Gate 15. Patrons will be shuttled from the parking lots, and spectators will not need a ticket to ride the shuttle (admission tickets are available at the main entrance ticket booth). The concessions prices are typical of events like this, so there isn’t any savings when it comes to food and drinks. However, the new course is easy to navigate and the Salesmanship Club of Dallas will continue to improve the fan experience, to return the highest ROI that was a constant when the tournament was at the Four Seasons Las Colinas.


Extras 3

One point for reutilizing a wasted and unusable landfill into the Trinity Forest Golf Club course. The course began as a wasted and unusable landfill while the City of Dallas sat in default on a state-mandated requirement to remediate the land, at an approximate cost of $12 million. By partnering with the golf course developers, the city reduced its remediation burden to roughly $4 million, and used the remaining funds to invest in community projects.


In addition, there isn’t anyone that can do fundraising better than the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. The Salesmanship Club of Dallas is the chief fundraiser for the AT&T Byron Nelson, and has been the heart and soul of the tournament since 1968. Since that time the event has raised over $160 million and transformed more than 100,000 lives, making it the most successful charity event on the PGA Tour.


And to continue the theme of how much the AT&T Byron Nelson reaches into the local community, the event supports the Bush Institute’s Warrior Open. This tournament began in 2011 for United States military personnel seriously wounded or injured since September 11, 2001 – since 2011, more than 140 warriors have participated in the Military Service Initiative’s Team 43 Sports, which includes the Warrior Open and the annual W100K bike ride. Former President George W. Bush is even a participant in the golf tournament.


But the biggest extra from the new venue is being able to witness a different type of golf course. The course itself will continue to improve and become challenging for players, while the course infrastructure will only get better each year, improving the fan experience. For example, the tournament recently added shaded viewing areas with structures and decks to combat the first-year complaints of no shade.


Final Thoughts

Over the years the AT&T Byron Nelson Tournament, while being played at the Four Seasons Las Colinas, became a Dallas area block party combined with a PGA Tour event. The patrons would settle in a party mood on the first two holes, then finish the celebration at the last two holes. The Par-3 17th hole was the one fans enjoyed most and could change the tournament on a Sunday – the hole’s water hazard, in front of the green, was an easy way for a golfer to lose the tournament. The fans surrounded the fairway and that hole in suites and villas that were set up to party.


The Trinity Forest Golf Club, however, gives a much different feel, with its wide-open field where fans can see more than one hole from one spot. The biggest fan complaint in the first year was the lack of shade around the course, so Byron Nelson Tournament officials have erected misting systems and increased shaded areas by bringing in some trees to alleviate this concern. While it is still too early to decide if moving the tournament from Las Colinas to South Dallas was the best decision, the Trinity Forest Golf Club course has the potential to become a great golf venue once the infrastructure develops, and golf patrons adapt to the change that has the PGA back home in Dallas.

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