Big in Texas: TPC Four Seasons Dallas more than ready for HP Byron Nelson Championship

IRVING, Texas -- The Four Seasons Resort Dallas at Las Colinas is certainly not taking a lame-duck approach to hosting the HP Byron Nelson Championship, set for May 15-18, right after The Players Championship and the week before the Crowne Plaza Colonial Invitational in Fort Worth.

The golf course is in excellent shape, the resort has a new owner interested in moving forward, and talk that the Four Seasons might get out of its contract with the PGA Tour and the Dallas Salesmanship Club earlier than its expiration date in 2018 have died down for now.

There had been suggestions as of late last year that the tournament -- which gets a new title sponsor next year in AT&T and a new course no later than 2019 -- could move sooner than expected. Speculation, prompted by a memo from Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings to City Council last fall, was that it could move as early as 2016 if the new Trinity Forest Golf Course in south Dallas, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, is ready ahead of its projected completion date in 2016.

Last week, however, Dallas City Council authorized a 40-year lease with a new golf course being built over a landfill near the intersection of Interstate 45 and Loop 12. Any early movement, of course, would involve buying out the Four Seasons at a price that would make it worthwhile for the resort, which is now owned by a company set up by New York-based Blackstone Real Estate Advisors. But there was no talk last week of the tournament moving early from Irving to Dallas.

TPC Four Seasons course never better

For now, the TPC Four Seasons, which is the only course used for the HP Byron Nelson (before 2009, the resort's Cottonwood Valley Course was also used), has perhaps never been better. Despite a rough winter in the Dallas area, the course is in excellent condition, including the greens, which are among the best in the DFW Metroplex. Much of that, no doubt, can be attributed to Superintendent Scott Abernathy, who holds a Ph.D. in agronomy from Texas A&M University.

And despite talk in recent years that PGA Tour players didn't like the TPC Course -- local tour player Hunter Mahan made some particularly damaging comments in 2011 when he decided to skip the event -- Director of Golf Paul Earnest said comments from players have been mostly complimentary about both the course and, certainly, the resort.

They will certainly miss being able to walk out their hotel rooms, from what certainly remains one of the Metroplex's premier resorts, right to the golf course. It's a luxury PGA Tour players don't get in most weeks. And when they get through with golf, especially on a hot day, they can head right to the pool.

"That's usually the best place to go and relax after play," said Vail Tolbert, director of marketing for the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas.

The TPC Course, originally designed by in 1982 by Jay Morrish, with player consultants Byron Nelson and Ben Crenshaw, was redesigned by former PGA Tour player D.A. Weibring and his partner, architect Steve Wolfard. PGA Tour player consultants Harrison Frazar and J.J. Henry also gave input as several holes were lengthened and the 18th was dramatically redesigned. The course now plays to a par 70 and 7,166 yards from the championship tees.

Trinity Forest coming to Dallas in 2016

The new Trinity Forest Course is being built on a landfill at an estimated cost between $20 to $60 million and is scheduled to be completed in 2016. The course will be private, despite $12 million of funding from the city of Dallas. The stipulation is that 25 percent of the rounds will be open to the public, but most likely that will be taken up by outside tournament play.

A 40-year lease signed with the city was contingent on the course entering into a 10-year agreement with the Byron Nelson. The Trinity Forest Golf Complex will contain a regulation 18-hole course, a nine-hole short course, a facility for the Southern Methodist University men's and women's golf teams and a host facility for the the First Tee of Greater Dallas.

Mike Bailey is a former Golf Advisor senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. He has also been on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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Originally designed in 1982 by Jay Morrish, with player consultants Byron Nelson and Ben Crenshaw, the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas has been the host course for the HP Byron Nelson Championship since 1986. Its contract with the PGA Tour event runs through 2018 before the tournament is expected to move to Trinity Forest, a course under construction in Dallas.
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Big in Texas: TPC Four Seasons Dallas more than ready for HP Byron Nelson Championship