Texas Rangers Golf Club will open in late February, with a new course designed by Colligan Golf Design on the site of the former Chester W. Ditto golf course in Arlington, Texas.
The municipal facility is the first club to tie up with a Major League Baseball team, inspired by the success of the Cowboys Golf Club in nearby Grapevine, Texas, a Jeffrey Brauer layout built in 2001 that became the first ever National Football League-themed golf club.
The city negotiated the branding partnership with the Texas Rangers – who play at Globe Life Park, two miles from the course – to attract residents and visitors to the course. “As the world’s only MLB-themed golf course, this course is sure to be a ‘bucket list’ item for baseball fans across the globe, especially our Rangers fan right here in Arlington,” said city mayor Jeff Williams.
Before the partnership was agreed, Colligan Golf Design was contracted in 2016 to develop a master plan and to oversee the renovation of the former Ditto course. Construction work began in December 2016 and finished in October 2017. The course has been growing in over the past year.
“One of the primary reasons for rerouting the course was to take advantage of the 55 feet of elevation change the site has to offer,” said John Colligan. “The clubhouse is located upon the promontory of the property with great vistas to the northeast overlooking the course and out across the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. The first tee sits some 45 feet above the lowest spot on the fairway.
“Only five holes utilise corridors from the old routing and the course now measures over 7,000 yards from the back tees per the city’s requests.
“The five northernmost holes – six, seven, eight, thirteen and fourteen – are all relatively level, with the par-five thirteenth having a 12-foot drop from the landing area to the green, allowing for a soft left to right shot to be rolled on to the putting surface.
“Holes four, five, nine, ten and eighteen provide the most dramatic elevation changes,” continued Colligan. “The fourth and fifth holes play around and across the irrigation lake with a drop of 35 feet from the back tee to the landing area on five. Holes nine and eighteen have uphill shots with a rise of 24 and 28 feet respectively, from the second landing area.
“The fairways are broad and playable, and the greens are large and user friendly. The overall scale of the course is ‘Texas Big’, and the 111,000 square feet of sand bunkers were beautifully sculpted by the crews of Landscapes Unlimited just as they were laid out and painted in the field by my design associate Trey Kemp.
“A series of four small ponds start between the eighteenth green and tenth tee, they cascade down some 15 feet to form a stream that bubbles down to join the stream, which starts from a single pond between the ninth green and tenth tee. The two streams come together on the left side of ninth fairway crossing the hole and emptying into the three-acre irrigation pond in front of the fifth tee. From beginning to end, the water travels 1,300 feet horizontally and 50 feet vertically to create fantastic movement and sound as another highlight of the course.
One of the baseball-inspired features on the course is an ‘on-deck circle’. “In baseball, the on-deck circle is where the next batter warms up while the batter is at home plate facing the pitcher,” said Colligan. “At Texas Rangers Golf Club, the on-deck circle is a 30-foot circle of artificial turf adjacent to the first tee where the next group can warm up by hitting shots at the targets within the driving range. This on-deck circle has the colours and shape of the Texas Rangers logo.”
The club’s 23-acre practice area includes a double-ended range, a practice hole and two short game areas – one with four greens and the other with one green.
“The biggest challenge for the project has been the vertical construction components for the golf facility,” said Colligan. “The original plan was to start construction of the maintenance building first followed by the clubhouse in order to have the maintenance facility complete before the golf course and the clubhouse when grow-in of the course was finished. Unfortunately, it has not happened in that order.”
The maintenance building was finished in December 2018, so the crew worked out of a temporary facility during grow-in. Construction of the clubhouse began in December 2017, which coincided with a period of record-setting rainfall. Colligan estimates that the clubhouse should be finished by spring 2020 and says that the club will open with a pro shop and grill functioning from a modular building.
“These construction delays have caused many issues with logistics of getting the course grown-in and cart path construction on the course where the clubhouse is under construction, not to mention additional monies required,” said Colligan.
Landscapes Unlimited was responsible for golf course construction work. “They, with the guidance of their construction superintendent Tommy Bisanz, were great to work with and did a fantastic job on the course,” said Colligan.
“Another bright spot of the project was the golf course superintendent Brick Scott and his crew. They have done a super job of getting the course grown-in with no maintenance building and limited resources.
“The only person to play all 18 holes so far – without the cups – has been Texas Rangers Hall of Fame catcher Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez. I asked why Pudge gets to play before me. Arlington Parks and Recreation department director Lemuel Randolph said: ‘Well he’s Pudge’. I looked him in the eye, held my stomach and said: ‘I’m pudgy too!’”