Some of the world’s greatest golfers played last week at TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, but less than 20 minutes away is another North Texas course intent on showcasing its layout to the best amateur golfers in the area.
The Lakes at Castle Hills reopened last September after an extensive renovation to the Jay Morrish design located in Lewisville subdivision of the same name, Castle Hills.
General Manager Chris Martinez, who has worked at some of the top private clubs in the United States and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, came in to make Castle Hills, once a down-on-its luck daily fee, into one of the top private clubs in North Texas.
One of the ways to do that at The Lakes at Castle Hills was to invite the top amateur and sectional professional tournaments in the area to experience the new course.
“We felt like it was getting a golf product once buried a chance to resurface in the competitive arena,” he said.
To achieve his goal, Martinez lured a combination of Northern Texas PGA and Texas Golf Association events to Castle Hills for a year-long grand unveiling.
Already this year the par-72 course, which is semi-private currently but will transition to fully private, has hosted the NTPGA Pro-Scratch tournament, along with the Byron Nelson Pre-Qualifier. It will host the USGA Junior Amateur Qualifier, June 11, and the U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifier, Aug. 13.
The club will host the Texas Women’s Open June 19-21, and the big prize comes in early August when it stages the 42nd Texas State Open, for the first of a three-year run.
“We are certainly honored and pleased to host the Texas State Open presented by Bright Realty,” said Chris Bright, Bright Realty CEO and owner of the development.
Martinez, who previously worked at TPC Las Colinas and Vaquero CC, and was Director of Golf at Stonebriar Country Club in Frisco, said having elite-level tournaments here is part of his plan to restore the development.
“Any opportunity to expose your facility to the best players in the market and showcase the changes and the hard work of the staff and commitment of the ownership is truly unique for us now and into the future,” he said. “It exposes your facility to the best players in the market and that is a community of top golfers interested in championship golf. ”
With the renovated course steadily selling memberships and more club expansion plans on the horizon, he doesn’t want to scare off top or even weekend golfers, but is looking to upgrade their experience.
“We haven’t completely showed the teeth of the courses yet,” Martinez said. “We don’t want to beat people up, just showcase the quality of the layout and the entire golf experience.”
After the Texas State Open is held Aug. 2-5, Martinez said the course will continue to work with the TGA and the NTPGA for further events at Castle Hills in 2013 and beyond.
“We want to be known as the home of local championship golf and these events are helping us get there.”
The Northern Texas PGA Section was represented by nearly a dozen professional players at the Byron Nelson last week, golfers who grew up here and learned their Lone Star golfing skills before moving on to compete in college and now with the best pro golfers in the world.
Northern Texas Section members include: Chad Campbell, Stuart Deane, Harrison Frazar, Hunter Haas, Paul Haley, Todd Hamilton, J.J. Henry, Brandt Jobe, J.J. Killeen, Colt Knost, Justin Leonard, Ed Loar, Ryan Palmer, Travis Wadkins and Brian Ricketts.
It was the first PGA Tour event for Wadkins, the son of World Golf Hall of Fame member Lanny Wadkins, a longtime Dallas resident.
Continuing a tradition decades in the making, Frazar and Knost helped conduct the annual junior golfer clinic Tuesday afternoon at the tournament driving range. It also included Dan Boever, trick-shot artist and former senior world long-driving champion, and was free to all kids. Also offered were prizes and food.
Longtime Dallas tour player D.A. Weibring started the clinic in the 1980s and it has been an early-week tradition, offering the next group of potential Tour players a chance to get started.
“Sure, I remember coming out here and getting autographs,” Dallas PGA Tour pro Leonard said. “I’m not sure where they are, but I got plenty.”
Registration is underway for both the Texas State Open and Texas Women’s Open, both held at The Lakes at Castle Hills this summer.
Final deadline for the Texas State Open is June 14 at 5 p.m. Deadline for the Texas Women’s Open is June 15 at 5 p.m.
Gleneagles Country Club in Plano will be the site of the Open Championship’s International Final Qualifying – America on Monday. A total of 78 professional and amateur golfers will attempt to grab eight spots in a 36-hole qualifier for the 2012 Open, July 16-22 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
“The R&A picks the spot where to hold the North American qualifier every year and we’re certainly pleased to host it here,” Gleneagles Country Club head pro Brent Halvorson said. “We stretch the course back to 7,150 yards and speed up the greens and let them have at it. It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun.”