Golf course architects John Colligan and Trey Kemp of Colligan Golf Design have completed the renovation of the Chester W. Ditto Golf Course in Arlington, Texas.
The city-owned course has been completely rerouted to fully utilise the 164-acre site, which has 80 feet of elevation change. It can now play in excess of 7,000 yards from the back tees, a 300-yard increase, and there are five sets of tees on each hole, providing a range of options to suit players of all abilities. From the forward tees, the course is now 550 yards shorter than before.
There is also now more variety in hole length. Par threes range from 135 to 195 yards, par fours from 335 to 475 yards, and par fives from 510 to 600 yards.
“The entire course has been rerouted to take advantage of the topography of the site. It will be a new golf course,” said Colligan, who has been a resident of Arlington for 42 years. “Fairways and greens have also been shaped to make the game more fun for all levels of players, directing shots toward the middle as opposed to the old rejecter fairways and greens.”
A new bunker style has also been introduced, which Colligan described as “about 50% Alister Mackenzie, 40% Perry Maxwell with a pinch of George Thomas for good measure.” The bunkers now feature buffalograss along the top edges, which adds texture and colour and reduces the maintenance burden.
Colligan shared some highlights of the course: “Hole five will play to a yardage of 435 yards from the back tee. The tee is elevated some 40 feet, playing down over the irrigation pond to a double fairway. The pin location will be important for the golfers as to which way they should play the hole.
“Hole six may have the most interesting green on the golf course,” he continued. “It is the shortest par three on the course at 135 yards from the back tee and plays to the largest most undulating green.
“The sixteenth is a short, possibly driveable hole, playing 335 yards from the back tee. On the tee you face some intimidating bunkers, but they are very deceptive, there is actually a lot of room to hit the ball.”
The eighteenth is a risk/reward par five playing 540 yards from the back tee. “It should provide a lot of drama for everyone finishing their round,” added Colligan. “The tee shot plays downhill to a generous fairway. If the golfer gets in the right position, they will have a chance to go for the green in two. The green is guarded by a deceptive bunker about 30 yards short of the green on the left and has a stream to the right.”
Various ornamental and native grasses have also been incorporated across the course, to add texture, colour and contrast.
A series of ponds near the ninth and eighteenth greens and tenth tee have also been added. These supply two rock and boulder lined streams which join to form a larger stream which crosses the ninth fairway into a new 3.5-acre irrigation lake.
A new 1,400-head irrigation system was installed, which means water for the course, provided by a nearby treatment plant, can be reclaimed.
The project also included the construction of a new practice facility, with a driving range featuring a primary tee that is 500 feet wide and 200 feet deep. The interior of the range offers six double-sided targets with bunkers to offer a more realistic practice environment.
Practice putting greens total 30,000 square feet, one located at the back of the practice range, one near the short game area and a third which blends into the back tee on the first. There is a practice hole that forms a buffer between a street and the practice range. This will soon have a four-bay practice building for lessons and for use by the University of Texas at Arlington’s golf teams.
Construction work was handled by Landscapes Unlimited, led by Tommy Bisanz. Golf course superintendent Brick Scott will look after the grow-in and daily maintenance of the course.
Future plans for the course include a new maintenance facility and a 20,000-square foot clubhouse. The clubhouse will feature a 200-seat banquet facility, a 120-seat grill, a 160-seat outdoor patio and a kitchen to provide service to all four of these areas.
“We want to make Ditto the go-to golf course in the state of Texas and beyond,” Colligan added.
The course is scheduled for a soft opening late summer 2018 with a temporary clubhouse. The new clubhouse is scheduled to be completed between winter of 2018 and spring of 2019.