A Preview of the New Lakes at Castle Hills Golf Course. Or: Why Mike Modano and I Are in a Fight

There are two things you should know before you read this post about the media tournament that went down yesterday at the Lakes at Castle Hills. First, I did not pay for a lot of stuff. Per Federal Trade Commission rules, it is my duty to inform you that I drank beer, ate sushi and gravlax, cooled my neck with mango-scented iced towels, and played golf without shelling out anything but a few tips for people who deserved to be tipped more than I tipped them. Second, you should know that, as a result of yesterday’s golf action at the Lakes at Castle Hills, Mike Modano and I are now in a fight.

A little background: the Lakes at Castle Hills, a golf course in Lewisville, was once known as the Golf Club at Castle Hills. Then some guys bought the joint. They kept the course in Lewisville, but they remodeled it, and come September 24, the public will get a chance to play the new course and see just how successful that remodel is. Yesterday, though, media types got to knock it around in a shamble-format tourney.

Due to my own incompetence and the fact that I nearly always overestimate how long it takes to drive anywhere north of the George Bush, I arrived at the clubhouse at 8:15, more than two hours before the start of the tournament. Seeing an empty parking lot, I took a spot. A LCH staffer was at my car door before I could open it. He seemed deeply ashamed that I’d suffered the inconvenience of parking my own car. He told me he’d see to my clubs. I’m pretty sure that if I’d sat on my rear bumper and asked him to put on my golf shoes for me, he would not have hesitated.

Every Lakes at Castle Hills staffer I encountered, including this bartender on the driving range who made my Bloody Mary, was more cheerful and helpful than this caption can convey.
Every Lakes at Castle Hills staffer I encountered, including this bartender on the driving range who made my Bloody Mary, was more cheerful and helpful than this caption can convey.
photography by Dana, Daniel and Chris Driensky

Every LCH staffer I encountered yesterday was similarly accommodating and cheerful. I couldn’t walk by someone without getting a “Hello” or a “Good morning.” That included the kitchen staff. At the end of the day, I walked into the clubhouse still holding one of the aforementioned mango-scented iced towels, unsure of where to deposit the thing. The record-breaking heat had left me a bit delirious. I wandered past the lunch buffet (which was excellent) and wound up at the entrance to the kitchen, where I ran into a woman in chef’s whites. “Can you point me to an appropriate place to put this thing?” I asked, holding up the wet towel. She smiled as if this were the highlight of her week and said, “I’d be happy to take that from you.” It is possible that she now has my used towel hanging in the LCH kitchen in a shadow box frame as if it were a sweaty wristband thrown by Rafael Nadal into the center-court stands at Wimbledon.

But that happened after Mike Modano and I got into our fight. Before Mike Modano and I got into our fight, I enjoyed a continental breakfast and then sauntered down to the driving range (which perambulation seemed to insult the LCH staffers whose offers to shuttle me to the range I declined). On the range, I met Peter Krause, the director of instruction at the new Hank Haney Golf Academy, which is attached to LCH. Peter watched me take exactly three swings before suggesting a slight adjustment to my grip that immediately cured my slice. I love this man. He is an American hero.

A co-worker saw this image of Mike Modano on the driving range, and now she wants to marry his calves.
A co-worker saw this image of Mike Modano on the driving range, and now she wants to marry his calves.
photography by Jerry McClure

Satisfied that my swing was as sweet as it was going to get given that my L5-S1 disc looks like bits of burned egg white, I ordered a Bloody Mary and took up a surveillance position on a wooden bench behind Mike Modano and watched him practice. I will say this about Mike Modano: he is smoking hot. I showed this image of him to a co-worker, and now she can’t stop talking about his toned, tanned, delicious calves (my words, not hers). I will also say this about Mike Modano: he can hit the ever-loving crap out of a golf ball. I am not exaggerating when I say that he is a better golfer than I am.

So then. On to the course. I had not played the track before the renovation. I cannot speak to the degree of its improvement. But I can say that I enjoyed my time on it. Some of the fairways need more time to grow in, which is no surprise. It has been a brutal summer. Which made the condition of the MiniVerde greens all the more surprising. Seeded only 80 days ago, they nonetheless were green and healthy. Our threesome agreed that they rolled fast and true.

On the course with me yesterday were author and sometime D Magazine contributor Curt Sampson. You will perhaps remember that Curt profiled Don Meredith for us, landing the last interview with the man before he died. Rounding out our threesome was Channel 8’s Ted Madden, who had the foresight to bring his own coozie. I cannot for the life of me explain why I have never thought to carry a coozie in my golf bag, as Ted does. I will forever be in his debt for bringing this oversight to my attention.

Here’s something else, besides the excellent condition of the greens, on which our threesome agreed: LCH went a bit overboard when it came to incorporating a theme into its course. Everything is Arthurian legend. The holes are named after knights of the Round Table. The tee box markers are tiny swords of various hues sticking out of limestone rocks. “Kitschy” is the word that comes to mind. To me, a golf course should reflect the place in which it is built. Lewisville presents challenges in this regard, I understand. But there you have it.

Me, personally, I prefer a setting that doesn't make me feel like I've snuck into someone's backyard to play golf.
Me, personally, I prefer a setting that doesn't make me feel like I've snuck into someone's backyard to play golf.
photography by Jerry McClure

The other quibble I have with LCH is that there are too many houses perched on the course. I understand the economic forces at work. If I were a developer, I’d put big houses around the fairways and greens, too. But as the guy swinging the sticks, I don’t like to feel like I’m playing in a canyon of retaining walls and backyard pergolas. That’s one of the reasons Dallas National is so special. And, for that matter, Keeton Park.

If you made it to this point, congratulations. I will reward you with the details of my fight with Mike Modano. Get ready.

We were wrapping up our round. Owing to the shotgun start, we were on the 8th green. I had finished putting, but Curt and Ted had yet to hole out. As I stooped to pick up my wedge, a golf ball thunked onto the green about 6 feet behind me. What the hell, right? The three of us turned back toward the fairway, where we saw Mike Modano standing in a fairway bunker about 175 yards away. [Ed: Mike Modano corrected this information in the comments. He actually hit a 3-wood from a bunker 260 yards away.] It was a great shot, no question, but what sort of fellow hits into a threesome on the green? Worse, what sort of fellow does this without shouting, “Fore!”? I don’t care if you have scored more goals in the NHL than any other American-born player. That’s not the way you conduct yourself on the golf course.

The three of us stood there, staring at Mike Modano back in the fairway, waiting for a wave or some sort of apology. Nothing.

It was on. I told Curt that I was now clearly in a fight with Mike Modano. I promised to have strong words for him, indeed, before we all sat down for lunch in the clubhouse. Curt suggested I pull Mike Modano’s sweater over his head and really work him over.

But guess who was a no-show for lunch? If you guessed Mike Modano, you’re correct. My co-worker who wants to lick his calves says that he obviously had something more important to do than sit around with a bunch of spare media types after a round of golf. I know better, though. Mike Modano and I are in a fight, and he’s afraid to confront me.

Driving back to Dallas, chewing on a cigar rolled that afternoon by Sabino Sotelo, I began plotting my revenge. I will serve it to Mike Modano just as they serve the delicious gravlax at the Lakes at Castle Hills: cold.

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