Trinity Forest - Dallas, Texas - March 14, 2017
I had a Dallas golf trip on the books for some time. I was visiting my golf brother, a Dallas resident, Weeks aka @DeezPutts. We were deep in the process of ironing out the golf itinerary when I brought up a long shot course option: what about Trinity Forest?
Weeks and I have an affinity for Coore & Crenshaw courses. We’ve both played Bandon Trails, Bandon Preserve, and Streamsong Red. I’ve played Warren Golf Course (University of Notre Dame class of 2000) and he’s played the Cliffs at Barton Creek and Kapalua. We’re also heading to Sand Valley next month! Needless to say we’re fans of the minimalist approach that C&C helped usher in with Sand Hills and continue to embrace with every subsequent course.
I did some mild interent stalking and got the name of the head pro and decided to try my luck and gave him a cold call. I tried to sell it as an opportunity for some publicity via the social medias for the course but he wasn't too interested. However, for reasons unknown to me he did agree to let us play and for that I am very grateful.
The morning of our tee time was brisk to borderline frost delay. When we arrived we were greeted by construction and apologetic Southern hospitality. It takes a lot of work to turn a landfill into a fully functional country club. The clubhouse was still in the process of being built and so we were ushered to a makeshift clubhouse, the nicest trailer I have ever seen.
My first observation was that Weeks and I were greatly outnumbered. The staff to player ratio was way at least 4-1. However, it didn’t feel forced or contrived. They were confident that they product (the course) would speak for itself.
We took a spin through the densely packed “pro shop” and found offerings by Greyson, BDraddy, and Jones. Things were purchased.
After a couple of breakfast tacos we made our way to the range. A short cart ride away, the range was immaculate and came with specific instructions. We were the only ones there.
Next stop, the course. We weaved through the construction and were instructed to leave our carts parked by the putting green situated just below the first tee. I grabbed my putter and tried to roll a few on the firm zoysia grass Trinity is known for. I was immediately intimidated. I don’t spend a lot of time on fast greens and these were rolling with a quickness.
We met our caddie, Paul McConnell, at the first tee along with the starter. We were greeted like regulars, informed that the YETI coolers on every fourth hole were filled with complimentary snacks (note: the beef jerky came with floss). With no other player on property we were given the green light.
The first tee shot was not very intimidating to first time players. The fairway was wide and welcoming, only Paul would know how bad of a spot we could get ourselves into. We both bunted a few drives onto the short grass. The first hole was big and bold, wide and welcoming. I played very conservatively and made it to the green in regulation. My playing partner wasted no time learning how difficult chipping would be from the tightly mown surrounds. His first attempt landed safely on but found its way off the back and trundled away from the green. I’m not going to say I’m glad he ended up there but while surveying his forthcoming chip he managed to take this picture of me on the green. Thanks Deez!
The next few holes proved to be more of the same. Fairways were found but scoring was difficult. The expansive double green shared by the 3rd and 11th holes was a sight to behold and very on brand for Texas.
We crossed the ravine to play holes 4,5,6. The 5th, a short par 4 is a menacing beast. I flared out to the right and had a tricky short iron for my second. Paul, who was as positive as he could be, bluntly informed me that, “with this pin we probably aren’t going to do much better than 6.” I had a wedge in my hand and about 120 yards in. A 6! I hit my wedge and watched it hit the green. It chose not to stop and rolled off the back, a theme of the round was developing. Once I got to my next shot I realized the accuracy of Paul’s prediction. I tried to get cute with my third and the ball kindly returned to my feet. My fourth found the surface, briefly, and made its way off the other side. My fifth stayed on the green and my sixth found the hole. Paul was a right. I look forward to seeing a few PGA pros challenge this hole. It may give up a birdie or two, maybe even an eagle, but it will also punish the timid, poorly hit shot and I am here for that!
Skipping ahead to the 8th is short par 3 that demands more precision. I’m not sure what is buried under that green but I know that it is rather large and oddly shaped. I left myself a roller coaster of a putt. It was a fun attempt trying to get the ball anywhere near the hole. This is another one I look forward to seeing the pros play.
The back nine is comprised of holes that flow in every direction possible. As Andy Johnson, Mr. Fried Egg himself, would say the punishment is in the angles. The 14th was a beefy par 5 with a blind tee shot. The tee box at 16 made me pause and think of all the “holes that aren’t holes” (shoutout Zac Blair) on this course. From there we could have easily gone down the 6th fairway and hit the reset button on the round. If only…
The 17th is a great example of a hole that forces you to play away from the flag and let the ground feed your ball to the hole. Personally I love holes like this, they make me feel artistic and better than I actually am. Did I play the hole as prescribed? Simply put, no.
Standing on the 18th tee box I was sad to see the round come to a close. I wanted to drag my feet and slow things down. That is until Paul told us about the group getting ready to tee off. Off in the distance we spotted a group of golfers on the putting green getting ready for play. Paul nonchalantly told us it was Spieth and a few of his friends. Yes JORDAN SPIETH. I immediately stopped dragging my feet and rushed through the final hole just to get a glimpse of him playing. In hindsight I should have snap hooked a shot into the first hole just to have an excuse to get closer. As it was we holed out, doffed our caps, shook hands and watched from a very discreet distance as Jordan smashed his drive and hopped on his golfboard. He rode off into the midday sun like a futuristic golfing cowboy.
Luckily our Trinity day was not over. The extremely scruffy “choose your own adventure” par 3 course was open for play and after a leisurely lunch Weeks and I each took a handful of clubs and played 9 holes. It was a good way to decompress and reflect on the round.
The term “links golf” is used and misused too often. After reading Tom Coyne’s piece in the The Golfer’s Journal I would be hesitant to call Trinity Forest a links course. Some links characteristics are present: the width, the firmness, the large undulating greens, the shot variation/creativity. It is a course that embodies everything I enjoy about golf and I look forward to watching the pros bring their talents to Dallas this week and play a course that is a breath of fresh air in the PGA schedule.