Jordan Spieth walks No. 14 at TFGC (photo by Tim Rogers)

Sports & Leisure

Trinity Forest Golf Club Must Let Dallas Residents Play Public Rounds

Writing about golf is more fun than doing real work.

Dave Lieber, the “Watchdog” columnist for the Morning News, published a story yesterday about the contractually required public rounds that must be played at Trinity Forest Golf Club every year. I’m here to take him — and myself — to task.

I’ll start with Lieber. The first thing about his story that struck me was that I wrote essentially the same story the day before he did. Here’s my effort, published Wednesday.

Look, golf in general is a subject with limited appeal. The number of golf rounds played across the country is in decline. Then, when you start talking about the arcane matter of how many public rounds of golf must be played every year at the fancy Trinity Forest Golf Club, which sits on land owned by the city of Dallas — well, we’re getting pretty niche. It would be like if I wrote a story about my experience with bunny yoga, and then Lieber came along the next day and wrote another story about my experience with bunny yoga, without even mentioning that I’d already addressed the bunny yoga matter and done so thoroughly.

Who really cares about which writer first posted a story about the public rounds at TFGC? I do, friends. And so does Dave Lieber’s mom, who expects better of her son. (Note: if Dave Lieber’s mom has passed to her eternal reward, she still expects her son to offer hat tips where hat tips are due.)

The second thing that struck me about Lieber’s story is that he somehow failed to mention that TFGC this week announced that it will host a tournament next month called the Dallas Amateur Championship. The point of Lieber’s story (and mine) is that the public-play requirement at TFGC is wonky and hard to understand. In that context, a big, upcoming public tournament seems germane (which is why I used the tournament’s name in the headline of the story I wrote).

Finally, when it comes to the complicated matter of what is and what is not a public round of golf as defined by the TFGC’s contract with the city, Dave Lieber doesn’t know what he’s talking about. More on that in a minute.

Let’s now club up — [pulls 6-iron from bag] — and talk about what I wrote before Lieber wrote what he wrote. As it turns out, I don’t know what I’m talking about either. That is because, again, trying to parse the contractual language about public rounds at TFGC is like trying to solve a quadratic equation using only your sense of smell.

After reading the section that lays out the public play requirement, oh, about 20 times (not joking), I still didn’t catch when I wrote my earlier story that there is a difference between what the contract calls a “public play round” and what it calls a “specific public play round.” I conflated the two terms. I regret the error. Now that I’ve read this section six more times, I think I understand what a “specific public play round” is:

The term “Specific Public Play Round” means a round of golf played or available for play at the Golf Course (I) by an individual who is a resident of the City of Dallas and is not a member of Lessee (or accompanying guest) and (II) that is available to the general public through a lottery system or first-response system (or other similar system). With respect to Specific Public Play Rounds, the green fee and other charges shall be comparable to such fees the Golf Course generally charges non-accompanied guests of members.

Do you see what’s happening here? Lieber wrote that 25 percent of the rounds played at TFGC must be public play rounds. That’s it. End of story.

Not so fast. In addition to stipulating how many “public play rounds” must transpire, the contract also requires a certain number of “specific public play rounds.” Those are rounds played by Dallas citizens. That number is 300. And, as you can see in the excerpt above, the contract also stipulates how those players must be chosen: by lottery or by first-response system (or something similar).

Have regular Dallas golfers throw their names in a hat. Or ask us to queue up like we’re waiting to buy Nine Inch Nails tickets. I’d make a party of it, show up a day early, camp out with my golf bros. To my knowledge, no opportunity like this has yet been offered to the citizens of Dallas. I have asked course developer Jonas Woods to correct me if I’m wrong. I’ll update this post if necessary.

I also asked Woods how the club keeps track of the normal “public play rounds.” He told Lieber that last year TFGC hosted 3,280 public play rounds out of a total of 9,308 rounds, which is about 35 percent. Lieber took him at his word. I’d like some proof.


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  • MattL1

    “To my knowledge, no opportunity like this has yet been offered to the citizens of Dallas. I have asked course developer Jonas Woods to correct me if I’m wrong. I’ll update this post if necessary.”

    Please do. I have a great interest in playing there at some point (really loved the layout when I was there for the Nelson), but I’m…let’s say…not the type of person that gets offered (or can afford) memberships at fancy golf clubs.

  • Paul

    Let’s get real. The City of Dallas gave up an old landfill site to a private developer who took on the huge risk to spend tens of millions of dollars to improve it and try to draw a limited pool of well to do golfers to one of the most dangerous and depressed parts of town. The members the club convinced to join paid six figures for memberships and four figures a month in dues. They are funding the course, and they have plenty of other choices where they can spend their money if it’s not a great experience. Regardless of how many rounds hacks like you get to play, if the course provides an extra nickel of economic activity in the area, I think it’s already a win for the citizens of Dallas.

    • You know, I tend to agree with you. But a deal is still a deal. And I actually think a first-response thing could be cool. What if one week every year the club burned through its required 300 “specific public play rounds”? One week a year, people line up every day to play. It’s like the scene in Caddy Shack where all the caddies take over the pool. It could become a great Dallas tradition.

  • I love that they tourney has a net division. I, however, do NOT have an official handicap. Nor do a lot of weekend duffers who would welcome the contractually required lottery system.

  • Jim Schutze

    What is golf?