Willow Brook Country Club, the 1922 member-owned golf club in Tyler, Texas, selected Tripp Davis and Associates to prepare a master plan in 2015 for the course and practice facilities on what is the oldest golf course in this east Texas town. TDA's 18-hole golf course renovation at Willow Brook was done in two-stages so that members could play golf during the construction. The back nine renovation was from January 2017 to October 2017. The front nine construction was during the spring and summer of 2018.
Green complexes were rebuilt, shaped and grassed with TifEagle. The drought resistant Latitude 36 Bermuda grass was rooted for the fairways and tees. The Tifway 419 grass, a weed and disease resistant turf, was planted in the rough areas. TDA also changed the back nine routing that previously had five consecutive par 4 holes. The conversion of hole 11 into a par 5 and hole 12 into a par 3 created for better flow and less repetition.
“Tripp took the course backbones and brought out the beauty of the place in the features,” said Kyle Downs, TDA Senior Golf Architect. “We added subtle elements of strategy to the course which the golfers should find interesting. The playability of the bunkers will be greatly improved due to how the bunkers are constructed.”
TDA added a short game area near the clubhouse in 2019. TDA previously designed on the property a four-hole short course with holes ranging from 60 to 140 yards that opened in 2015. “The short course is a fun golfing ground,” said Tripp. “It’s all fairways with no tees so you drop a ball and play the holes any way you want. I love it because it encourages juniors to play and learn the etiquette of the game.” The course gave TDA the opportunity to show Willow Brook members the style of greens and bunkers we will bring to the course eventually.
The club has been awarded the 2020 Texas State Amateur following review of our work. Willow Brook has a rich history in hosting numerous tournaments including the 2006 and 1996 Women’s Texas Golf Association State Amateur Championship, the 2003 and 1993 Texas Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship, and the 1964 Texas State Amateur won by Marty Fleckman. The Eisenhower Classic was played here for 10 years from 1987 to 1997 with PGA TOUR players such as Payne Stewart, Ben Crenshaw and Greg Norman participating in the event.
"Willow Brook is routed over some of the most interesting terrain I have seen," Tripp continued. "It is not quite as hilly as Pine Valley in the New Jersey Sand Barrens, but it is a similar landscape with the sandy soil and mix of pines and oaks. In the 1950's, legendary golf course architect Ralph Plummer did a very good job routing the current course and our direction was to take the strategic character of the course to the next level with more interest in the greens and bunkers."