Two of the giants of Texas amateur golf, the Women’s Texas Golf Association and the Texas Golf Association, have approved a motion to move forward in a plan to merge operations.
The merger would not officially take place until next January, but the votes by the respective boards of directors clear the way for the organizations to work together to benefit amateur golf in Texas. “It’s a meaningful day for Texas amateur golf and one that will benefit both of our organizations and more importantly amateur golfers in the Lone Star State,” said TGA Executive Director Rob Addington. The merger would create one governing board comprising men and women and a melding of enhanced services, including grow-the-game initiatives, course rating, volunteer resources, communication, marketing and business operations. WTGA tournament administration and junior golf programs would continue under the direction of the current WTGA staff and committee members, backed by the additional resources of the TGA and the full board. “Big things could happen for Texas golf if we join our teams,” said WTGA Executive Director Kelly Kilgo. “We are excited about a possible merger.” A merger committee of directors from both organizations has been formed, and along with the respective executive directors of each organization that group will develop plans both initially and for the long term to merge the operations. “The leadership of the TGA is strongly behind this initiative and thinks that one voice for all golfers will be beneficial to growing the game and providing the membership of both organizations a full range of services,” Addington added. As the WTGA approaches its centennial celebration in 2016, the association’s directors said in a news release they want to ensure that recent growth continues for the next 100 years.
Longtime Fort Worth PGA Tour pro J.J. Henry received quite an April Fools’ present last week and then had a hard time getting anyone to believe him. Playing in the Project Shelter Pro- Am charity tournament at Preston Trail Golf Club in Dallas with former president George W. Bush, Henry came to a par-3 with a closest-to-the-pin contest for the professionals. At the end of the tournament, the seven closest pros were given one shot, with the closest-to-the-pin winner earning a new Mercedes-Benz from longtime local car dealer and North Texas amateur golf supporter Fin Ewing. When the final shots were taken, Henry struck his to seven feet and walked away with the new luxury car. “Wow, what a day. Played golf with President Bush and won a new car,” Henry said. The only problem was when the event happened: April 1. Henry had trouble getting anyone not there, including his wife, to believe him. He finally tweeted a photo to prove the doubters wrong and enjoyed an April 1 he won’t forget. No fooling.
The LPGA will return to North Texas for the first time in more than 20 years with the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout on April 25-28 at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, and the tournament has given top college and high-school players the chance to earn sponsor exemptions to play alongside the pros. Collegians Madison Pressel (University of Texas) and Casey Grice (University of North Carolina) earned spots in the field as co-champions of the North Texas College Shootout at Las Colinas last month. (Pressel is the younger sister of LPGA standout Morgan Pressel.) In addition, 18 high school golfers will play with LPGA pros in a North Texas LPGA Shootout Monday pro-am, with the low two scorers among the youngsters earning exemptions into the tournament field. The Irving-based Nexus Club will help organize the event, with proceeds going to girls’ junior golf in the area.
The new Trinity Forest Golf Club, south of downtown Dallas, is scheduled for a final approval this month by the Dallas City Council that should get construction going on the highly anticipated course. AT&T has partnered with the City of Dallas and a local developer and foundation to build the 18-hole private course on a city-owned former garbage dump. Architects Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore already have been announced as the designers of the 400-acre project, which will include facilities for the First Tee of Dallas and headquarters for the Southern Methodist University golf teams. The city has made public its hope to draw the local PGA Tour event, the Byron Nelson Championship, to the new course from its longtime home in Irving. The goal seems realistic, since AT&T is to take over as title sponsor from HP beginning in 2015, about the time the new course will open. “When is the last time anything in Dallas golf had the label ‘world class’ attached to it?” asked Hall of Famer Lee Trevino, who took part in the opening news conference. “This is very exciting for everyone involved in Dallas golf.”
Former University of Texas All-American Jordan Spieth turned pro late last fall and entered the 2013 season with no pro-tour status. But by late March he already had amassed more than $500,000 in PGA Tour earnings and earned special temporary membership for this season. He now can accept unlimited sponsor exemptions for the rest of the year, positioning him well to finish inside the top 125 and earn exempt status for 2014. “I really didn’t expect this. I thought I would be filling out my schedule this year on the (Web.com) Tour,” Spieth said.