Thursday, March 30, 2023 Mar 30, 2023
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The 2018 Numbers Are More Proof Trinity Forest’s Public Play Rules Really Aren’t Public

Let the people play.
By Shawn Shinneman |

As Tim explored in this space last year, cutting through the complex language of the city’s contract with Trinity Forest Golf Club is not easy. When you finally get down to it, the most exciting portion for the golfing layman is a requirement for 300 “specific public play rounds.”

As far as the contract reads, the idea with the SPPRs—I’m going to abbreviate it this way so we all don’t lose our minds—seemed to be to give Dallas residents with no connection to Trinity Forest a chance to play.

Of course, the contract has a separate requirement that 25 percent of the total rounds are “public.” But public in the eyes of the contract can mean many things. A round played within a corporate or charity event is a “public” round.

Too, the city’s records reflect a number of “unaccompanied” rounds. These are considered public, as well, and they sure sound promising. If you or I play without a Trinity Forest member, that’s an unaccompanied round. But how do you earn the privilege? The only way, course developer Jonas Woods explained to me this week in a series of back-and-forth emails, is to get a sponsorship from a member. Let’s pause to break that down, because at the bottom of this post, I’m going to give you all the 2018 numbers.

Member rounds: Rounds played by members of Trinity Forest
Accompanied rounds: Rounds played by non-members with members of Trinity Forest
Unaccompanied rounds: Rounds played by non-members who are sponsored by members of Trinity Forest

Onward we go. As you see, there’s nothing truly public about the 25 percent requirement. Which brings us back to the SPPRs, the hacker’s last hope. According to the contract, these rounds would be available to Dallasites “through a lottery system or first-response system (or other similar system).”

I started emailing Woods this week after the city sent me the data I requested, breaking down the rounds played in 2018 by category. It is a preliminary draft of a report officials will be presented with in May. Woods told me that Trinity Forest is focused on ensuring an incredible experience for the golfers who play the course, “so materially higher rounds volume (of all types) is not our goal.”

And then we got onto the subject of the SPPRs, and how they were accounted for last year. Tim was hoping for one week out of the year where we all test each others’ devotion by seeing how early we’re willing to line up outside the gates. First come, first served. I’d endorse that plan (although, truth be told, the greens fees ain’t cheap for a modest scribe).

Bad news, though: in 2018, all 300 of the SPPRs were taken up by the Dallas Amateur Championship. You had 74 practice rounds, 128 tournament rounds on day one, and another 120 on day two. “It was open to anyone,” Jonas wrote.

That is technically true. But you have to qualify for the Dallas Amateur Championship, and the qualifying rounds happen at Cedar Crest. Further, while there is a “net” category—meaning anyone with a handicap can play—most of the slots are based on gross, your actual score. In 2018, the winner of the men’s gross category fired a cool 72-72, even par. That is playing. (Also pretty intriguing: the two super seniors who posted 71s.)

Theoretically, the contract starts at 300 truly public rounds, theoretically open to average golfers, theoretically randomly selected. But accounting for these through the Dallas Amateur means we doubled up with practice rounds and the multi-day tournament, knocking the number down to some 128 people. But you really have to go lower, because according to the scoreboard I linked to in the last paragraph, just 24 people qualified to play Trinity from the net division.

In other words, if you don’t know a member, aren’t on the list for a charity or corporate event, aren’t on the PGA Tour, aren’t a scratch golfer or close, then your course of action to get one of 24 spots to play Trinity Forest last year was to get a handicap and enter the Dallas Amateur in the net division. And then, during qualifying at Cedar Crest, you had to bring it.

I’m all for this tournament. Good players should be rewarded with good golf courses. My beef is with the tournament being the average resident’s only real chance to beat it around a track that sits on city-owned land.

I promised you some numbers.

Below is how things broke down in 2018. The SPPRs are a part of the corporate and charity rounds, for what it’s worth. Here we go:

Member rounds: 2,816 (28 percent)
Accompanied rounds: 1,843 (18 percent)
Unaccompanied rounds: 1,057 (11 percent)
Ambassador rounds: 203 (2 percent)
Corporate & Charity Tournament rounds: 2,720 (27 percent)
Professional rounds: 626 (6 percent)
SMU Team & Tournament rounds: 378 (4 percent)
Comp rounds: 421 (4 percent)

Total rounds: 10,064

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