Byron Nelsons legacy lives on

By Erik PetersonMay 19, 2009, 4:00 pm
byron nelson
A larger-than-life statue of Byron Nelson is the focal point of the clubhouse area at TPC Las Colinas

DALLAS – Every golf city has a godfather. Pinehurst has Donald Ross. Orlando has Arnold Palmer. In Dallas it’s none other than Byron Nelson. Without Nelson, who won a record 11 consecutive PGA Tour events in 1945, Dallas wouldn’t be known as the golf destination it is today.
 
Four Seasons Resort at TPC Las Colinas
Web site
 
How to get there
From DFW airport, take TX-97 North. Merge onto TX-114 E toward Irving. Take MacArthur Blvd. exit and turn right. The resort is one mile on your right.
 
How to play it
Summer Escape Package – 2 Nights at $195/night, 25% off all activities (golf, dining, spa, tennis), kids under 12 dine free off kid's menu.
 
19th hole
Racquets offers casual dining. Located near the tennis courts and fitness center.
 
In hosting the HP Byron Nelson Championship and Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in successive weeks in May, Dallas-Fort Worth is the only metro area with two regularly scheduled PGA Tour events. And with more than 200 golf courses, it’s also one of the most abundant golf destinations in the country.
 
The most notable golf resort in the area is the Four Seasons Resort at TPC Las Colinas, host of the aforementioned HP Byron Nelson Championship and the only AAA five diamond resort and club in Texas. Because of its convenient location in Irving between DFW airport and downtown Dallas, it’s no surprise that it’s a popular spot for the business traveler.
 
What’s unique about this property, however, is that it has three different types of customers: Members, resort guests and PGA Tour players. Striking the same chord with each guest no matter who they are can be a delicate balance, one the resort prides itself on maintaining.
 
“We have Tour players who are members; we have members who are hotel clients; and we have corporate meeting customers who are both,” said general manager Michael Newcombe. “It's about giving our customers great service at every turn and treating them with the utmost respect at every opportunity.”
 
With properties in impressive locales from Hawaii to Switzerland, the Four Seasons brand personifies luxury and relaxation. And while Dallas may not be the most exotic vacation destination, elements of style are evident throughout the resort, especially since the completion of a $60-million renovation to all facilities.
 
The 431-room hotel and adjoining villas provide plush accommodations. A European-style spa offers tranquility. A pool and lazy river encourage a little fun in the sun. All in all, the resort is impressive in every aspect. But at the TPC Las Colinas the golf is the most talked-about attraction.

 
The influence of Byron Nelson
Originally designed by Jay Morrish, the TPC at Las Colinas opened in 1983. Its founding member, oldest employee and oldest tenured employee was Byron Nelson, who along with fellow Texan Ben Crenshaw collaborated with Morrish on the design.
 
tiger byron
Tiger Woods shakes hands with Byron Nelson during the 2004 tournament in which Tiger finished 4th.
Three years after the resort opened it became the home – along with neighboring Cottonwood Valley – of the HP Byron Nelson Championship, becoming the first-ever tournament to be named after a professional golfer.
 
And despite his passing in 2006, Nelson’s legend is still alive.
 
“He taught us so much about the game, the community of golf, the history of the sport and the human spirit,” remembers Paul Earnest, director of golf at Las Colinas . “Ultimately, he was our ambassador in every sense of the word.”
 
Inside the clubhouse a Hall of Champions has been created, with a significant portion dedicated to an exhibit in Mr. Nelson’s honor. It’s replete with some of his most prized possessions, including his first-ever golf trophy and his journal, which includes detailed notes he made during his historic 11-tournament winning streak.
 
Farther down the hall is a wall of champions. Names like Woods, Mickelson, Els, Singh, Stewart and Price are evidence of the respect Tour players have for not only supporting, but winning Lord Byron’s tournament.
 
As players head toward the first tee they pass by a statue of Mr. Nelson, which serves as a constant reminder of the man who left a permanent impression on everyone he came in contact with.
 
And the best part is that you can walk where champions have walked. Las Colinas has the feeling of a premiere private club, but it’s open to the public. It’s the way Byron wanted it, so it’s the way it will be.

 
The redesign
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, TPC Las Colinas started to show signs that it was in need of a redesign. Though the field for the HP Byron Nelson Championship continued to be strong each year, it was more a respectful tribute to Mr. Nelson than it was a positive indictment on the quality of the golf course. Players claimed that as equipment improved, shot values around the course worsened.
 
da weibring
D.A. Weibring credits Byron Nelson with being his golf and design mentor.
In 2007, players got their wish, and plans for a redesign were put in motion. A committee including Earnest chose five-time PGA Tour winner and current Champions Tour player D.A. Weibring for the job.
 
“D.A. impressed us with how much research he’d done,” Earnest said. “The passion he demonstrated was overwhelming.”
 
A major part of Weibring’s research was aggregated from a simple note he sent to every PGA and Champions Tour player regarding the current state of TPC Las Colinas:
 
-Is the challenge design or agronomic?
-Favorite / least favorite holes.
-What would you change?
-Do you want to help?
 
“We received more than 100 responses from players,” Weibring recalls. “I asked Tour employees for their input too. I like tapping into and creating that team environment.”
 
Though Weibring has several other designs on his resume, including TPC Deere Run – host of the PGA Tour John Deere Classic – this project was unique because of the 11-month window with which he had to work. Officials wanted to stage the 2006 tournament, shut down immediately, and open again in time for the 2007 event.
 
“From the beginning we knew if we focused on paying respect to Byron, everything would fall into place,” Weibring said. He credits Nelson with being his golf and design mentor.
 
To collaborate on the project, Weibring commissioned the help of PGA Tour players Harrison Frazar and J.J. Henry, two Dallas-area residents with complementing approaches to the game. Frazar prefers a high, left-to-right ball flight while Henry favors a low, right-to-left shot shape. Both have a passion for course design.
 
In all, the course routing didn’t change but 17 out of 18 holes were reworked to some degree (No. 8 was the only hole that wasn’t changed). While a par of 70 remained and the course was only lengthened by 200 yards, mounding around greens was made more difficult and fairway bunkers were strategically placed. The result was a course that fits the eye of today’s Tour player.
 
“One of the biggest things we found is that players are unhappy when you take driver out of their hands,” Weibring said. “So it was important for us to try and get driver back in their hands eight to 10 times during the round.”
 
While the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive (it was awarded 2008 Redesign of the Year by Golf Inc.) the biggest compliment in Weibring’s eyes is the course’s newfound ability to challenge all different types of golfers. At the 2008 HP Byron Nelson Championship, long-hitting Adam Scott won a playoff against Ryan Moore, who is more of a position player.
 
Weibring made it a point to give the course flexibility. Options for different tees and pin placements mean 'the volume can be turned up or down,' making the course playable for recreational golfers and pros alike.
 
Whether you’re playing golf, staying in the hotel, or strolling the grounds at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, the Four Seasons Resort at TPC Las Colinas is an exceptional golf experience.
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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.