A SPECTATOR’S GUIDE TO PROFESSIONAL GOLF
Watching a professional golf tournament in person makes for a day (or days) well spent. You’re out in the sunshine, working on a tan, enjoying the fresh air, filling your senses with the sights and smells of blue skies, green grass and flowers in bloom. The professional golf tours, both men’s and women’s, descend on Dallas/Fort Worth in May for four separate marquee events.
Go see for yourself why professional golf is such a challenging, demanding and yet ultimately rewarding endeavor. The following is an insider’s guide to enjoying Dallas/Fort Worth’s professional golf tournaments. See you at the first tee.
Murata Reunion Pro-Am 1991 Winner: Chi Chi Rodriguez
Where: Stonebriar C.C., Frisco, Texas (Highway 121 at legacy Drive)
When: May 4-10
Field: 78 Senior PGA Tour players plus pro-am partners
First prize: $60, 000
Tournament Charity: Communities Foundation of Texas
Ticket information: (214) 827-4653
Ticket prices: Daily: $12 for Wednesday/Thursday; $15 for Friday/Saturday/Sunday; Season Badges: $30 for Pavilion; $80 for clubhouse.
Parking: $4 (Four public lots near clubhouse; shuttle available from Legacy Drive lots. )
MURATA REUNION PRO-AM. Played at the prestigious Stonebriar Country Club in Frisco, Texas, Murata features golf’s top names (Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino) from the past generation.
GREATEST CHAMPION: Juan Rodriguez. (Chi Chi is Murata Reunion Pro-Am’s only two-time champion, having won both at Stonebriar in 1991 and at Bent Tree in 1987.)
BEST PICK IN OFFICE POOL: Jim Colbert (He lost to Chi Chi in a playoff last year. Won three times thereafter to rank 3rd on 1991 money list. Off to fast start in 1992.)
BEST PLACES TO SPECTATE: 4th green (watch approach shots, putting at the course’s prettiest hole, tee shots on the adjacent 5th tee); 15th green (watch tee shots, putting on beautiful little par-3, drives on nearby 16th tee).
BEST CONCESSION: Cardboard spectator seat (free). Provided by Nitro golf balls.
MUST-SEE: Stonebriar’s "Street of Dreams" (Houses lining the fairways on holes 2, 3, 17 and 18 are some of the most conversation-piece residences in North Texas.)
COCKTAIL CHATTER: Tournament is the first Senior PGA Tour event to adopt the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am formal, wherein amateurs play with professional partners through the competition... Former Dallas Cowboys punter Ron Widby, a scratch golfer, once played in this tournament and beat his professional partner by more than a dozen strokes... Don January, who won this tournament in 1986 at Bent Tree, formerly served as Stonebriar’s director of golf... Rocky Thompson, in addition to playing a full Tour schedule, is the mayor of Toco, Texas, near Paris and the Oklahoma border... Dallas resident Bruce Crampton has won at least one Senior PGA Tour in (he past seven years, including 1992. Alas, none has come in the Murata Reunion Pro-Am.
GTE Byron Nelson Classic 1991 Winner: Nick Price
Where: four Seasons Resort and Club, Irving, fail (MacArthur Blvd. between highways 183 and 114)
When: May 10-17
Field: 144 players.
Purse: $1.1 million
First Prize: $198,000
Tournament Charity: Salesmanship Club of Dallas
Ticket Information: (214) 742-3896
Ticket prices: Daily: $22 grounds pass, $40 pavilion pass; Season Badge $90).
Parking: $5 at Texas Stadium (Shuttle service to Four Seasons Resort and Club. )
GTE BYRON NELSON CLASSIC. Played at the plush Four Seasons Resort and Club in Irving, the Nelson Classic holds the distinction of being the only pro event named after a former Tour player, native Texan Byron Nelson.
GREATEST CHAMPION: Tom Walson (Byron Nelson’s protege has won the tournament four times, including three in a row between 1978 and 1980. Watson nearly won a fourth consecutive Nelson Classic in 1981, narrowly losing to two-lime tournament winner Bruce Lietzke.)
BEST PICK IN OFFICE POOL Mark Calcavecchia (Plays this course exceptionally well, as witness a second and a third here, plus has brilliant overall stroke average of 68. 71. Well on way to erasing subpar 1991 and a less-than-scinlillating Ryder Cup performance with a solid season in 1992.)
BEST PLACES TO SPECTATE: 2nd green (watch tee shots, putts on the par-3 2nd, then tee shots on the demanding par-4 3rd, the toughest hole on the TPC course); bleachers by the 5th/9th green (it’s a double green, meaning you get to see putting on two separate holes).
MUST SEE The new 9’ statue of tournament namesake Byron Nelson, by Glen Rose artist Robert Summers, located near the 1st tee.
BEST CONCESSION: Anything served in the famed Nelson Pavilion, where the beautiful people of Dallas congregate. (Come to think of it, the concessions are incidental when compared with the Pavilion’s people-watching.)
COCKTAIL CHATTER: This marks the 25th anniversary that Dallas’ pro golf tournament has been named after the genial gentleman/ rancher from Roanoke, Texas, Byron Nelson... earlier, the tournament was known at various times as the Greater Dallas Open, Dallas Open, Texas International Open, Dallas Centennial Open, Dallas Invitational and Texas Victory Open... The winner of the first tournament, at Lakewood Country Club in East Dallas in 1944, was none other than Byron Nelson... Speaking of the tournament namesake, Byron Nelson celebrated his 80th birthday on February 4... Longtime Nelson rivals Sam Snead and Ben Hogan also turn 80 this calendar year... Before winning the 1992 season-ending Tour Championship, Craig Stadler’s last Tour win had come at the 1984 Nelson Classic... The 1970 Nelson Classic featured a sudden-death playoff between the two giants of the sport, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus won with a birdie on the first playoff hole.
Southwestern Bell Colonial 1991 Winner: Tom Purtzer
Where: Colonial C.C. fort Worth, Texas (University Avenue at Colonial Parkway)
When: May 18-24
Field: 110 players
Purse: $1. 3 million
First Prize: $234, 000
Tournament Charity: Colonial Charities, Inc.
Ticket Information: (817) 927-4280
Ticket Prices: Daily: $20 for Thursday/Friday; $35 for Wednesday/Saturday/Sunday; Season Grounds Badge: $75; Sponsor Medallion: $165; Sponsor Money Clip: $185
Parking: $6 (At Amon Carter Stadium on TCU campus. Shuttle bus service to Colonial. )
SOUTHWESTERN BELL COLONIAL Played at the world famous Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Colonial is closely associated with another golfing legend from Texas, Ben Hogan.
GREATEST CHAMPION: Ben Hogan (The Fort Worth native, a dose friend of Colonial founder Marvin Leonard, won the Colonial NIT five times, the last in 1959. Hogan won the inaugural NIT in 1946.)
BEST PICK IN OFFICE POOL: Payne Stewart (SMU grad and reigning U. S. Open champion has been runner-up here twice, losing in playoffs to Peter Jacobsen in 1984 and Dan Pohl in 1986. Has two other top-10 finishes at Colonial, so obviously likes the course.)
BEST PLACES TO SPECTATE: 3rd tee (after watching players putt for birdie on the short defenseless par-4 second hold, see how they negotiate their tee shot around, or in some cases over, the large tree guarding the left side of the third fairway; this is the toughest tee shot on the course); 12th green (watch the approach shots and putting on this dogleg par-4, then walk a few steps to catch tee shots over water on the picturesque par-3 13th); 15th tee (watch toughest drive players face down the stretch on this dogleg right par-4. Nearby are the 14th and 17th greens).
BEST CONCESSION: Frozen margaritas on the Colonial’s red-brick verandah.
MUST-SEE: Colonial’s "Wall of Champions" located at the first tee.
COCKTAIL CHATTER: Famed Colonial Country Club course has hosted two U. S. Opens-1941 men’s championship and 1991 women’s championship... Ben Hogan Trophy room on ground-level of clubhouse includes some of the greatest treasures in golf... Women’s golf immortal Babe Didriksen Zaharias, a native Texan from Beaumont, won several tournaments and exhibition matches at Colonial... Tom Watson, the next U. S. Ryder Cup captain, has finished in the top 10 at Colonial eight times, most recently in 1991. But while Watson has won in Dallas four times, he still seeks his first win in Fort Worth... Colonial Country Club again topped rankings of Texas golf courses in an annual survey conducted by The Dallas Morning News... The toughest stretch on the golf course, holes 3/4/5, are known in golf circles as "The Horrible Horseshoe."
JCPenney/LPGA Skins Game 1990 Winner: Jan Stephenson
Where: Stonetbriar C.C., Frisco, Texas (Highway 121 at legacy Drive)
When: May 22-24
Field: 4 players-defending champion Jan Stephenson, Hall of Famers Pat Bradley and Nancy Lopez, 1991 LPGA sensation Meg Mallon.
Tournament Charity: Easter Seals Society for Children
Ticket Information: I-800-580-4718
Ticket Prices: No daily tickets sold. $75 for 3-day season grounds ticket.
Parking: On-site (No charge, cost included in the ticket price. )
JCPENNEY/LPGA SKINS GAME. Also played at Stonebriar Country Club in Frisco, the Skins Game features a quartet of the world’s most accomplished women golfers in a high-stakes exhibition match.
GREATEST CHAMPION: Jan Stephenson (The only champion, actually, since the event made its debut at Stonebriar in 1990. The native Australian, a Fort Worth resident, walked away with six skins and $200,000, besting Betsy King, JoAnne Carner and Nancy Lopez.)
BEST PICK IN OFFICE POOL Pat Bradley (Hall of Famer is coming off one of her best years in 1991, when she won four tournaments, led the money list and earned Rolex Player of the Year honors. Could get on a roll here.)
PLACES TO WATCH GOLF: Hole by hole, shot by shot. (We recommend you wear comfortable shoes and walk the entire route with the players. Remember, it’s only 9 holes per day.)
MUST-SEE: Stonebriar’s Pro Shop (One of the finest selections of golf merchandise-women’s and men’s-you’ll find in the area. Ask for Judy Emerson.)
COCKTAIL CHATTER: Something about seeing the words JCPenney on the tournament name-plate inspires these players. Pat Bradley twice has won the JCPenney Classic, a season-ending mixed team event now played in Tarpon Springs, Fla. In 1978, Bradley teamed with Lon Hinkle, and in 1989, her partner was Bill Glasson. Nancy Lopez teamed with Curtis Strange to win the 1980 JCPenney Classic, while Jan Stephenson and Fred Couples won the 1982 JCPenney Classic... the first of Nancy Lopez’s more than 40 career LPGA wins, incidentally, came in Dallas at the Bent Tree ladies Classic in 1978. Lopez won a total of nine tournaments that season. Not bad for a rookie, eh?... One-time Dallas resident (and LPGA Hall of Famer) Mickey Wright holds the all-time record for wins in a season, 13 in 1963... On the LPGA’s career money list (as of January 1992), Pat Bradley ranked first, Nancy Lopez fourth, Jan Stephenson ninth and Meg Mallon 35th.