Long Drivers Can Look Forward to Two Challenging New Courses

By MARK KAZLOWSKI / The Dallas Morning News

While the pace of new course construction in North Texas has slowed markedly, it is notable that two new courses scheduled to open this year are about 14 miles apart in Grayson County. Both are centerpieces of master-planned communities.

Sherman Hills Golf Club was designed by California-based architect Cal Olson. It is scheduled to open April 1.

John Stovall, the director of golf at Sherman Hills, said the course, which is visible from U.S. Highway 75 on the eastern edge of the property, has been ready to play since 2006. It features bentgrass greens. A cart barn was under construction in late January, and a temporary clubhouse will follow, Stovall said.

The Bridges at Preston Crossings in Gunter is Bluegreen Communities’ fourth Fred Couples signature course for the company. It was designed by Jeffrey D. Brauer of Arlington’s Golfscapes and is scheduled to open the first week of July.

Both courses will be open to the public and will challenge the longest hitters. Sherman Hills measures 7,428 yards from the tips and 6,833 from the gold tees. The Bridges will be nearly 7,500 yards. Many of those compact tee boxes are a short hike from the gold tees, which will play at 6,921 yards.

This is the first Texas foray for Olson. Brauer has more than a dozen new courses and renovations in North Texas on his résumé, including Cowboys Golf Club in Grapevine.

Some of Preston Crossings’ devilishly undulating greens will be familiar to those who have played other Brauer creations. He has included some traditional elements such as rectangular tee boxes.

“Most of these tees are just kind of set there, which is an old-fashioned kind of look,” Brauer said. “It’s very practical. As I get older, the idea of not climbing up to a tee really starts to appeal to me.”

The design also gives players plenty of options in closely mowed areas around the miniverde Bermuda greens.

One of the most unusual holes is No. 6, which plays at 325 yards from the tips and 296 from the gold tees. The green is a reverse of the Road Hole at St. Andrews in Scotland. The pot bunker is on right instead of left, and there is a long bunker on left side of a small green, which features severe undulations.

Bluegreen Communities is developing the 1,597 acres of the former Martin Ranch just east of Gunter. It will have about 2,000 home sites when it is complete. Construction on the first home was to begin early this month. The clubhouse, which will sit above a par-5 18th hole that requires two shots over water, is expected to be completed in the fall.

“We bet the proverbial ranch on the growth continuing,” Tom Powers, president of Bluegreen Golf, said of the corridor north of U.S. Highway 380 between McKinney and Denton.

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