Preston Trail Golf Club
Ranked #3 in Texas following TDA complete renovation/restoration (2008-2009)
When Tripp Davis was selected in 2007 to work with Preston Trail to go through a complete reconstruction of the course, he beat out many of the best golf course architects in the country. It was a sought after commission given the history. The course was originally designed by Ralph Plummer and Byron Nelson in 1962 and it was the site of the Byron Nelson Golf Classic from 1968 to 1982. During that time it was widely regarded as one of the best courses played on the PGA Tour every year.
While the objective of the reconstruction of the course was to rebuild everything from tees, bunkers, greens, cart paths, irrigation, drainage, and replace every blade of grass, the goal was to "restore" the stylistic and strategic intent of the original course, which had gone various tweaks over the years. Working on a Master Plan for the project included a trip to meet Byron Nelson at his ranch home north of Fort Worth. “Our main goal was to rebuild the course in a way that would make Mr. Nelson proud," said Tripp. “I was fortunate to talk to him for a long time about the course and he gave me some great insight about what they wanted to accomplish, generally, and in great detail. It was amazing how well he remembered what they had done 45 years earlier." Ultimately, Tripp reshaped most of the greens back to their original design intent, repositioned bunkers to fit the strategic intent, and relocated tees to allow Preston Trail to be both as tough as it was, and still enjoyable for the Membership.
A big part of the project included improving the playing conditions of the course year round. The poor North Dallas soils made it hard to have good Bermuda fairways in the winter and spring, so the project team concluded they would need to sand cap the tees, fairways and near roughs, and use Zoysia in these areas. While there were a lot of great old trees on site, there were also too many younger trees that both cast too much shade and hid some of the older trees that could add a lot of character. This ultimately called for the removal or transplanting of over 150 good sized trees, and many additional smaller trees.
The work did not stop on the course as Tripp redesigned the driving range, putting greens and built a new 3 acre short game area. "The challenge of building a great range was a bit daunting, especially given how much the Membership at Preston Trail uses the range,” said Tripp. “We ended up moving a lot dirt to make the range ‘flatter’ so you could see balls land really well, and then we did a lot to hide the fact we moved a lot of dirt. The left side of the main tee was a 17 foot fill, but because of a series of walls and landscape work we did, you can't tell we filled that much, either when standing on the range tee or playing the 9th hole below the range." The short game area was hit and they have even expanded on it since because of that popularity.
According to club manager Curt Kelley, “I had the pleasure of working with Tripp and his team through the master planning and complete renovation of Preston Trail Golf Club in Dallas, Texas. Tripp and I, along with our golf course superintendent and golf professional, spent considerable time together. We traveled to great golf courses in Texas, Georgia, and Arkansas evaluating turf varieties and playing conditions. We worked closely through the golf course construction process, meeting regularly so that I could keep our membership informed as the project progressed. We have continued our relationship with Tripp in an advisory capacity since the renovation project completed in 2009 and agreed on a long term contract. Tripp is a very talented designer and he is a great team member. He works well with committees and members who have questions or wish to offer their thoughtful opinion and does so with diplomacy and respect.”
TDA continues to serve as the club’s consulting golf architect 11 years later to maintain, if not enhance, the quality of golf course going forward.