Iron Horse Golf Club northeast of Fort Worth is a stiff but enjoyable ride

By Travel ArticlesNovember 5, 2012, 5:00 am

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas -- From the back tees, Iron Horse Golf Club is just 6,679 yards from the tips. So as you get through the first three holes -- par 4s that are 420, 430 and 465 yards respectively -- you're probably thinking to yourself that there must be a bunch of short holes coming up.

Not exactly.

Iron Horse is only a par 70, which is like playing a 7,000-yard, par-72 course. And beyond that, most of the holes at Iron Horse require placement over length. The ability to work the ball is an asset, too, but a little length on some of the holes definitely comes in handy.

It's no wonder the slope/rating is 72.6/127. (That's 2.6 strokes over par since it's a par 70.)

But before we scare you off, here's a solution for anyone who's not a 6-handicap or less: Don't play the back tees. You'll have a lot more fun, the forced carries aren't as difficult and you can hit shorter clubs into these well-guarded greens.

'I think what sets us apart is the overall playability of the course,' said Head Golf Professional Chris Miles of the Gary Stephenson-designed municipal course that remains a favorite in the Fort Worth area.

'And from a staff aspect, you'll find that most of the people who come in say this is one of the friendliest places they come into,' Miles said. 'Most of our staff knows the majority of players by name. So it's not the typical public course where you just check in and play. There are relationships here between our staff and the players.'

Iron Horse Golf Club's friendly atmosphere

What else would you expect from a club that has a model train in the clubhouse? That's right, as the name implies, the 23-year-old facility is built around a railroad theme.

In fact, a railroad trestle runs right though the course, and there are old train cars set around it, including one that serves as the halfway house. And a train actually still operates through the area. The historic Tarantula runs from Grapevine to the Fort Worth Stockyards, carrying tourists.

For golfers, the experience even carries to the tee boxes, where pieces of rail mark the tees. And a locomotive is the course logo.

The locomotive might be a good model for golfers, too. Because like an old steam engine, it's best to be patient. Take it slow and gather momentum.

'Most of the golf course doesn't require driver off the tee, but it does require placement right around the 150 yard marker,' Miles said.

But there are times, such as on those first three holes from the tips, where a well-placed driver is probably the club of choice.

And there are times where a hybrid or iron off the tee is the way to go.

Favorite holes at Iron Horse

'No. 2 and No. 3 are great holes,' Miles said. 'Both require very accurate tee shots.'

The third is the longest par 4 on the golf course. It requires a shot over Fossil Creek, which runs throughout the course. It has a very tight landing area and even a good tee shot sets up a long approach.

The par 3s are pretty strong, too. The eighth is 190 yards with ponds left and right. And the 17th can play more than 200 yards with water in front of the green.

The 15th might be the signature hole on the course. There's a creek off the tee and another crossing before the green. It requires a workable-type tee shot as well.

And, according to Miles, No. 18 might be one of the best finishing holes in the Metroplex. When the tee is all the way back, it's 250 yards in the air to clear the creek, albeit downhill. The approach isn't much easier with trees and bunkers surrounding the green.

'When there's a strong prevailing south wind, we move the tee up,' Miles said.

Iron Horse Golf Club: The verdict

Iron Horse Golf Club really is a challenging course that plays much more difficult than its yardage. The shorter holes -- such as No. 7 (335 yards) and No. 10 (382) -- can be among the most difficult because of the tight windows off the tee. But the key is to play them conservatively.

The best part about Iron Horse really is the overall atmosphere. It has a nice clubhouse with friendly staff and good food; rangers are very polite but manage to keep play moving along, and the professional staff makes you feel like family.

Practice facilities include a range, short-game area and practice green. And lessons are available from the staff. Considering the relatively low price and the overall condition of the course, including its outstanding greens, Iron Horse is a great choice for the local golfer as well as the traveler.

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Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.

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Beef's beer goggles: Less drinks = more wins

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

An offseason spent soul searching is apparently paying quick dividends for Andrew “Beef” Johnston, who is in contention to win Sunday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Johnston acknowledged he was “burning the candle at both ends” last year, playing both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, but he told reporters Saturday that it wasn’t too much golf that hindered his efforts.

It was too much “socializing.”

“I'm a social person,” Johnston said. “If you go out with friends, or you get invited to something, I'll have a beer, please. But I probably had a few too many beers, I would say, to be honest. And it reflected in my golf, and I was disappointed looking back at it. I want to turn that around and have a good season.”

Johnston posted a 6-under-par 66 Saturday, moving into a tie for sixth, three shots off the lead. He said he arrived in Abu Dhabi a week early to prepare for his first start of the new year. It’s paying off with a Sunday chance to win his second European Tour title.

“Last year was crazy, and like getting distracted, and things like that,” Johnston said. “You don't know it's happened until you've finished the season. You’re off doing things and you're burning the candle at both ends. When I got back from last season, sort of had time to reflect on it, I sort of said to myself, 'You've got to keep quiet and keep disciplined and get on with your work.’”

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Johnston finished 189th last year in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings. He was 116th in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

Johnston’s fun-loving personality, his scruffy beard and his big-bodied shape quickly made him one of the most popular and entertaining players in the game when he earned his PGA Tour card before the 2016-17 season. Golf Digest called him a “quirky outlier,” and while he has had fun with that persona, Johnston is also intent on continuing to prove he belongs among the game’s best players.

His plan for doing that?

“Just put the work in,” he said. “I didn’t put enough work in last year. It’s simple. It showed. So, just get down, knuckle down and practice hard.”