I got an extraordinary opportunity to play in the Warrior Open presented by The George Bush Institute for combat wounded veterans post 9/11. We played a week prior to the AT&T Byron Nelson, so the cou... Continue »
I got an extraordinary opportunity to play in the Warrior Open presented by The George Bush Institute for combat wounded veterans post 9/11. We played a week prior to the AT&T Byron Nelson, so the course was not only in great shape but we also got to play with the grandstands fully built. It was a surreal experience to not only play at such an amazing course, but to also chop it up with the former head of state George Bush. Regardless of how you land politically, George Bush is a great man who was so fun to be around. He truly cares about the men and women we sent to war, I walked away from the event realizing that he’s just a normal guy who happened to be President.
Now, for the course. Wow. From the club house to the driving range, everything is in the right place. We’ll start with the range. There are two ranges, 2 chipping green areas, and a small 3-hole par 3 course. It’s shared with SMU’s golf training facility, which on its own probably costs more than some municipal club houses. Hitting Prov1s on the range was quite delightful, and being able to compress the ball and toss some divots on the perfectly manicured grass was even better.
The main clubhouse is gorgeous. With a large sitting area and bar that wraps around into the men’s locker room, you can sit there at have a great view of the putting green and 18th green. The clubhouse with gifts and where you’d pay for your round is slightly smaller, set off directly in front of the putting green, cart staging area, and caddy locker room. They have a large ballroom where we spent most of our time before and after our rounds, which has a fully stocked bar as well. Upstairs is yet another bar, a large covered patio and the women’s locker room. This vantage point would give you a breathtaking view of the entire course void of the grandstands, with the 18th, 1st and 10th tee right there in front of you. Would be a great place to sit and pass the time while watching people navigate the course.
The course itself is something I’ve never really seen before. Built on top of an old landfill, they weren’t allowed to plant trees or dig into the dirt as not to disturb the concrete cap poured on top of the fill. So, there are no trees, and most elevation changes and bunkers were made by bringing dirt in. With that handcuff, Coore and Crenshaw did a fantastic job molding the course. The elevation changes and blind shots you make the course difficult, but the wide fairways allow you to be a little loose off the tee. Just don’t find yourself on the wrong side because the wrong angle to a green sloping away from you makes for a tough approach shot. So, while wide, the correct angle makes for a small target. There are no distinct tee boxes on the course. Everything runs directly into the fairway, and as a result some tee areas are not level but they have plenty of room to play from. Sometimes I would tee it up as far as I could behind the markers in search of an even lie. Normally that would bother me, but here it fit the course and was okay. Each tee area was in perfect shape, not divot damage whatsoever. They grow a hybrid zoysia grass called Trinity Zoysia, and it drains incredibly well and leaves for tight but comfy lies throughout the course. The fairways were a delight to hit from, but the divot and contact differed than that from the driving range. It’s almost like the grass didn’t allow you to generate much spin on the ball with well struck shots.
The greens, man the greens were something else. Large, undulating, challenging, and deceiving. From 100 yards out you could look at the green and have a general idea of how your ball might break, and then when you get to your ball it looks completely flat. On Saturday there were rolling close to a 13 and pure as ever. Sunday, we got to our first green and noticed that they had been painted which dropped them to about an 11. Monday, they rolled the same with the paint on. Our forecaddie said that this is to help the viewers on TV see the undulations better, which makes sense because while drastic they are slight in their own way.
The bunkers had heavy sand but were great to play from. The aprons around the green were mowed so tight some courses would let them pass as their greens, and a putter from 30 yards off the green was not uncommon. A closed club face used for a bump and run play was nearly unhittable because of the trinity zoysia, so you had to open up the blade which also opened you up to blading it off the tight lie. I used plenty of 7 irons and my 3 wood, and eventually I learned that a full wedge was a better shot into the green than a 50-yard pitch shot. Again, finding the right angle for your approach gives you so many options off the tee and your 3rd shot for par 5s.
I loved every second of each round I played there, not wanting that 18th hole to get any closer as we played. I was able to play in a Pro-Am with KJ Choi and also met Lee Trevino, Ryan Palmer, Tony Romo, and countless men and women who sponsored the event and made it all possible. If there are any combat wounded post 9/11 vets on this page who enjoy golf and use it as a way of therapy, you should definitely look into applying next year.