Four Seasons Resort Dallas has bright future, with or without the PGA Tour

By Mike BaileyFebruary 13, 2014, 5:13 pm

The HP Byron Nelson is already getting a new title sponsor and probably a new venue. Now, the stage where the tournament has been conducted for the last 30 years – The Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas -- has a new owner and a new future.

More interested in filling rooms, most likely, than appeasing the PGA Tour, New York-based investment group Blackstone Real Estate Advisors purchased the property in foreclosure this week for an estimated $150 million.

The timing, perhaps, couldn't be more perfect.

The resort's contract with the PGA Tour will run out in 2018. The tournament's new title sponsor, AT&T, is interested in moving the Nelson to a new Ben Crenshaw-Bill Coore design being built in south Dallas, Trinity Forest. 

It will mark the end of an era for the 431-room Four Seasons Dallas, no doubt one of the most celebrated golf resorts in Texas, but it will also be a new beginning. Soon, perhaps, to be free from the responsibility of playing host to a PGA Tour event, the resort will enter a new phase, much like San Antonio's Westin La Cantera, which hosted the Valero Texas Open from 1995-2009, and still plays off that history.


Byron Nelson frequented the Four Seasons Las Colinas in his later days, and a statue still stands. 

Located between Dallas and Fort Worth in the upscale business community of Las Colinas in Irving, the Nelson tournament certainly had a good run. Year after year, it was among the top tournaments in rasing money for charity and up until recent years, drew pretty good fields. Much of that was due to the hard work of the Dallas Salesmanship Club, which ran the event, but even more significant was the ever presence of its host, Byron Nelson. He was a fixture at the Four Seasons – out there most every day he could be -- and perhaps the most personable and nicest person I've ever met.

One of the my fondest memories as a golf writer came in the late '90s when I spent the better part of day with Mr. Nelson, having lunch, talking golf swing, discussing his relationship with Ben Hogan and reminiscing about his record breaking streak in 1945 when he won 18 times, including 11 in a row. Over lunch, it seemed he wanted to know as much about me as I did about him. I often had to steer the conversation back to the topic people cared about.

The following January, I found Nelson at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando signing hundreds of autographs at the Cleveland Golf booth. I wanted to say hi, but I didn't interrupt. After a few minutes, he looked up and asked me how I was doing, referring to me by name. I had only met him the one prior time before that. Incredible.

Everybody felt that way about Lord Byron, including Tiger Woods, who won there in 1997, but never came back after he missed the cut in 2005, his ninth appearance. Nelson died the following year, and the field suffered. The allegiance from tour players, to some degree, was no longer there. Now the golf course, a Jay Morrish design that I've always enjoyed playing (We played the Texas Golf Writers Championship there several times) came under more scrutiny. The greens were deteriorating and the original owners, USAA, had gotten out when the getting was good, having sold to commercial real estate investor BentleyForbes in September 2006 for a reported $200 million right after Nelson's death. For BentleyForbes, the timing couldn't have been any worse.

With Nelson no longer around and the tournament fields growing weaker, disapproval of the golf course, which is sort of shoe-horned in between businesses and condos that surround the property, grew.


In 2007, D.A. Weibring's group was brought in to renovate the TPC Course, and while they did a great job, many of the changes weren't that noticeable with the exception of the 18th hole, which was completely blown up and redone. BentleyForbes also added a number of luxury villas around the course for VIPs and tournament sponsors. It just wasn't enough.

To make matters, worse, in 2008, the U.S. economy tanked after one of the country's worst financial crises in modern history. Soon after, in 2009, the property went into foreclosure after BentleyForbes filed for bankruptcy.

Through it all, however, the Four Seasons Company has always staffed and operated the resort, which included professionals and managers who have been there for years. So there was always continuity and consistency in products and services.

And while the par 70 TPC Course has its share of critics, it's not the only course there. For many years during the Nelson, the private Cottonwood Valley Course, which is open to resort guests, was also used during the first two rounds. With its Texas-shaped green on the first hole, great conditioning and interesting Jay Morrish and Robert Trent Jones Jr. layout, it's as much fun to play as the TPC.

Blackstone is expected to update the facililities throughout the resort. Add to that a world-class spa, great dining, luxurious rooms, golf academy and a large athletic club that includes tennis, racquetball, basketball and other activities, and the Four Seasons is still one of the best resort experiences in Texas.

With or without the PGA Tour.


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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.