The Trinity Forest Golf Club will take over as the host of the AT&T Byron Nelson next May.
Here are 10 things to know about Trinity Forest and the upcoming Byron Nelson.
1. Don’t take the name literally
The Trinity Forest golf course is the exact opposite of an actual forest. In fact, there’s not a tree to be found on the course itself. That’s because the course is built on a landfill, and there are restrictions as to what can go into the ground — including trees.
The course’s name is inspired by the Trinity Forest, which surrounds the property.
2. You’ll still be able to party
Yes, many people attend the Nelson to see world-class golf. But let’s be honest: a lot of people go to partake in some world-class partying. One of the staples over the past few decades of the Nelson at the TPC Four Seasons was its legendary pavilion — the party hub for the Nelson week.
For those wondering if the pavilion would go away as the Nelson shifted from Irving to South Dallas: do not fret. Organizers intend to have a pavilion at the new location, too. Nelson tournament director Jon Drago said the plan is for the pavilion to be staged off the planned main entrance near the 13th hole. And while some tournament directors hinted that it might potentially be a little smaller than the pavilion at the TPC Four Seasons, it should still pack a similar punch at its new location.
3. Prepare to see some things you’re not used to seeing
When you first set your eyes on Trinity Forest, you’ll probably think you’re somewhere overseas on a links golf course that would be hosting a British Open, not a PGA Tour event in May. But even though Trinity Forest may look like a hybrid of a links course and recent major venues like Erin Hills (2017 U.S. Open) and Chambers Bay (2015 U.S. Open), it has a personality all of its own and really doesn’t play similar to any of those courses, according to course co-architect Bill Coore.
On Tuesday Coore said Pinehurst No. 2, host of the 2014 U.S. Open, is a more appropriate playing style comparison than either Erin Hills or Chambers Bay. He helped restore that course with Texan Ben Crenshaw, his partner in the Trinity Forest project as well.
And while Coore dislikes the term “signature hole,” (he joked: “If there’s a ‘signature hole,’ what’s wrong with the rest of ‘em?”) it’s hard to dispute there are some elements of the course that will stick out.
Most notably, there’s a double green shared by the 3rd and 11th holes on the course. It’s roughly the size of a football field (at roughly 35,000 square feet, it’s one of the largest greens in North America) and it’s sure to leave some of the most creative (and lengthy) putts you’ll ever see.
As Trinity Forest tournament director Harrison Frazar said in May: “I think it will be a welcome break between what some would call the monotony of PGA Tour golf courses.” Or as 2018 Nelson chairman Eddy Moore dubbed the course on Thursday: “the most unique golf course on the PGA Tour.”
4. It’s not for everyone — and the brains behind it understand that
While the course’s uniqueness should be a selling point to some, it could yield an opposite reaction from others. Don’t expect the braintrust behind Trinity Forest to lose much sleep over that, though.
“Ben and I certainly aren’t believing this is going to be an instant love affair,” Coore said. “We know there are going to be some folks that just don’t like it. And by the same token, we hope there will be guys that play it and take the time to try to understand it better and get a sense of its nuances and take advantage of what it will give you.”
“Will it be unpredictable? Yes, in places it will be highly unpredictable,” he continued. “Will it give you, though? It will absolutely give. It will take. But it will give. And it will give equal to anything it’s going to take. But you have to be understanding of how that process might occur.”
5. It’s an exclusive (and impressive) club
Trinity Forest co-founder Jonas Woods said on Tuesday that the club currently has roughly 150 members. They’re very happy at that number and not actively seeking other members, but Woods said he could envision a number around 225 people in five years or so. He also said he never expects that number to be anything beyond 275 people, and that accessibility is one of the club’s biggest selling points. There aren’t tee times and it wasn’t intended to be a crowded course.
Among those 150 members? When perusing through the locker room earlier in the week, T. Romo, J. Spieth and R. Staubach were some of the nameplates that stood out.
6. Don’t get married to the scorecard
If you take a look at the scorecard, Trinity Forest is listed as a Par 72, both on its member scorecard and its championship scorecard.
Don’t bet on that being the case for the Nelson, though, even with its course playing at about 7,500 yards off the championship tees. That’s because many of the decisions about the course will be made by the PGA Tour — including what par the course plays at. Frazar imagines the course will be either a Par 70 or Par 71 for the Nelson. As for other changes, PGA Tour officials will start dropping by Trinity Forest in early February of next year to start “guiding the preparation process.” But Frazar and Coore think that outside of potentially toying with some tee locations on some holes, large-scale changes probably aren’t in the works. That’s partially due to some limitations that the site mandates — even with the course built out, they still have to adhere to various restrictions because of the course being built on a landfill.
Arguably the biggest change already came earlier this year. In January, Trinity Forest officials made the decision to flip-flop holes 1-9 and 10-18 for members because it already had been decided the Nelson would be played with that routing. Now the 18th fairway and green are near the clubhouse and has more room for fans.
7. There should be some positives due to the venue switch
Along with some of the obvious perks, such as getting to see a new, unique course in person for the first time, the Nelson venue change should bring some additional positive changes for patrons during Nelson week that might not be as obvious on the surface. That includes easier access to players, and a more parallel experience for spectators compared to the relatively linear viewing experience at the TPC Four Seasons.
Frazar elaborated on that concept, talking from the perspective of a patron:
“I don’t need to go chase people anymore to go find Jordan (Spieth),” he said. “I can walk right here and I can watch Henrik Stenson come by, and here comes Dustin (Johnson) and if I just wait for 15 minutes and walk 100 yards, Jordan will be right there in just a second.”
One area where this could be very apparent would be near the 5th and 15th greens, which Woods calls “the evil twins.” From this spot, patrons will be able to watch putts on 5 and 15, see tee shots on 6 and 16 and likely catch approach shots in other neighboring areas. Other spots, like the aforementioned double green at Nos. 3 and 11 should yield similar opportunities.
8. There should be some challenges due to the venue switch
If you poll 100 local golf fans what their biggest question will be about the new Nelson setup at Trinity Forest, a safe bet would be for at least 90 of them to focus on the same issue: parking.
And it’s a reasonable question. Where will tens of thousands of golf fans park in an area of South Dallas that is largely undeveloped? The answer, according to Moore, is the State Fair of Texas.
Organizers are planning on the State Fair to be the major shuttle hub for the tournament. They say it’s a 10-12 minute shuttle ride from the fair, and are quick to point out that it’s very similar in length to the shuttle rides from the old Texas Stadium to the TPC Four Seasons.
Another likely issue: the sun. Golf tournaments in Texas in late May will always have heat-related concerns, but one of the things that makes Trinity Forest so unique — the lack of trees — creates a legitimate issue for patrons: How exactly do you deal with the sun without any trees creating shade?
Woods said there are plans to bring in artificial shade by way of “comfort stations” — man-made structures with misters, concessions and refuge from the sun.
Finally, there will likely be concerns about the availability of hospitality, given the TPC Four Seasons’ calling card being hospitality and Trinity Forest appearing to cover less physical surface area.
Multiple people associated with Trinity Forest and the Nelson said this week that they fully intend to offer the same amount of hospitality areas that they offered at the TPC Four Seasons.
The biggest difference, as Moore emphasized on Thursday, is that Nelson organizers expect hospitality to be spread out much more evenly across all 18 holes, rather than at the Four Seasons, where the vast majority of marquee options were along the 16th, 17th and 18th holes.
A full list of hospitality options can be found at the Nelson’s official website.
9. You’re able to get an early sneak peek
You can’t drive up to Trinity Forest and check out the facilities for yourself. But there are some ways for you to get an early look at the course before the Nelson comes around.
The Nelson’s official website has a “virtual venue” fan-based experience available for people to play around with. There fans can take virtual tours of holes 5, 12, 15, 16, 17 and 18. That tour includes both a look at the course and at some of the suite locations and views.
Dallas Morning News photographers and videographers have also gotten the chance to take photos and videos on the property.
Here’s a photo gallery from 2016 when Jordan Spieth helped announce the official venue change, and media members got their first look at the property.
And here’s a DMN video from May, when media members were given the opportunity to check out the still-under construction Trinity Forest Golf Club during the week of the 2017 Nelson.
10. Don’t hold your breath for Trinity Forest v 2.0
On Tuesday, Coore talked at length about how the process of seeing Trinity Forest come to life was equal parts challenging and rewarding.
When Coore was asked about his first impression, Woods interjected and joked that Coore’s first impression was that he wouldn’t even come out to the site. Coore recalled Woods reaching out to him and promising Coore “a special site,” something Coore said he receives similar sounding pitches about all the time. The pitch only got less appealing when Woods slipped in the fact that it was a landfill site later in the conversation. But Coore admits he gave it serious thought since it’s in Texas, and he enjoys working in Texas. His partner Crenshaw is obviously in the same boat, given the fact that he’s been a lifelong Texas resident. When Coore and Crenshaw really sat down and discussed the possibility of taking on the project, it wasn’t a lack of interest that held them back, but rather a lack of confidence that they were the right people to take on the job, given their lack of experience with landfill sites.
Ultimately the urging from Woods and Co. — along with the appealing potential contours that the land presented — was too much to turn down, and Coore and Crenshaw ultimately took on the project. And with the course now coming to fruition, the marriage between architects and the Trinity Forest founders ended up being a positive one.
So now that everything is said and done, and the “hugely complicated task,” as Coore described it, is over, could another similar project be on the horizon?
When asked if he’d be interested in working with another landfill and turning it into another world-class golf facility, Coore didn’t take long to answer.
“We’re one and done,” he said, insinuating Trinity Forest would be the first and last landfill project for the Coore/Crenshaw partnership.