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>The Byron Preview, Part 3 – The Course

>For most major golf tournaments, the period immediately after the tournament is spent de-briefing, discussing what worked and what didn’t work, and then laying pretty low for several months before it’s time to start working on next year’s event. Two years ago, right after The Byron, it was a very different scene as bulldozers invaded the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas and went where golf carts had been only days before as a massive reconstruction commenced.

COURSE HISTORY
The course was created in 1982 by Jay Morrish, with assistance from Lord Byron himself as well as Ben Crenshaw and others. The quality of the accommodations and Byron Nelson’s presence were always big draws, but the course’s most outstanding features were it’s logistical qualities rather than the way it played. In the 90s the course underwent three phases of improvements, including the planting of over a hundred trees in 1999.
The 2007 redesign cost over $10 million, and was led by DA Weibring’s design company with DFW native Steve Wolfard as the lead architect. DA had also participated in some of the earlier improvement work. The project included behind the scenes irrigation and water management work as well as a complete rebuild of most bunkers and greens. It also softened some of the stadium mounds to make the course more aesthetically pleasing.
“We respect this golf course’s history and embrace it’s future.” DA Weibring said in 2007. “Everything we suggest in our project plan is designed to build a course that Byron Nelson would be proud to play his tournament on in 2008 and for the foreseeable future.”
For the championship the course plays at 7,166 yards to a par of 70.
PAST TOURNAMENTS
The first three players to win the Dallas PGA event were Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, and Ben Hogan, and the tournament has showcased the very biggest names in the sport over the past 65 years. Jack won two Byron’s in the early 70s, and Tom Watson won four in six years at the end of the decade. The 80s and 90s tournament winners includes Ben Crenshaw, Fred Couples, Payne Stewart, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, and Tiger Woods. In this decade some of the champions were Jesper Parnevik, Vijay Singh, and Sergio Garcia. Last year’s tournament was won by Adam Scott.
SIGNATURE HOLES
The third hole is the sternest test against par, and played at 4.396 in 2008. It’s a challenging 528 yard par 4 with water all along the right side and two fairway bunkers strategically placed at between 265 and 350 yards from the tee. A triangular green offers many challenging hole placements.
The eleventh hole is a short par 4 at 323. Historically the water in front of the green has prevented most players from going for the green, but as part of the redesign the green was moved further from the water in order to introduce more risk-reward analysis into the players’ strategy. There are dual black tees on the hole, one on the same side of the water as the green and one on the opposite side.
Most of the crowds and most of the noise will be around the 17:th green (see picture). This 198 yard par 3 is the “Party Hole”, but offers a much more significant challenge than the similarly named hole in Phoenix. Water was added in front of the green due to DA Weibring’s 1993 redesign, and in 2008 it was the third most difficult hole on the course at an average of 3.227.
THE RESORT
The Las Colinas property is everything one would expect from a Four Seasons resort, and much much more. The pool area is very elaborate, with semi-private alcoves squirreled away between the landscaping and vegetation. The spa offers sauna, massages, steam bath, hot tub, and a cold plunge, and the sports club is consistently rated as one of the top in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
The facility is conveniently located 10 minutes from DFW airport and less than 30 minutes from downtown Dallas, but once you’re on the property it maintains a truly relaxed resort athmosphere. If you enjoy the occasional urban escape you can’t beat it.
If you want to venture out of the hotel for some reason I highly recommend Cool River, which combines a premier steak house with a great looking bar. Legend has it Cool River was one of the stops for the Stanley Cup trophy on it’s journey through Dallas’ nightlife after the Stars’ victory in 1999.
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>Seve Trophy Sell-out

>I think the French have a bit of a bum rap in this country, and not all of it is deserved, so I’m hesitant to even bring this bit of news to the forefront. In this instance, however, any French-bashing that ensues is fully deserved.

You may or may not be aware that there is a biennial competition which pits Great Britain and Ireland against continental Europe. Traditionally this contest has competed for the Seve Trophy. Short and sweet name, and a very personal sign of respect towards this great golfer.

Now, however, AP is reporting that starting this fall the contest will be called “Vivendi Trophy with Severiano Ballesteros” (Vivendi is a French media conglomerate.)

The guy is bravely fighting off brain cancer, just recently making his first public appearance after going through waves of chemo treatments, and you’re picking this time to sell out the contest that bears his name and giving him second billing? The decision was made by the European Tour, and I think it’s a very ill conceived idea in the first place, with abominable timing as to the announcement.

>The Byron Preview, Part 2 – The Salesmanship Club

>When you talk about an organization with a somewhat odd or ambiguous name it’s sometimes best to start with the name itself, or it might be more of a distraction than anything. This is definitely the case with The Salesmanship Club in Dallas, who puts on The HP Byron Nelson Championship every year.

SALESMANSHIP

The Salesmanship Club in Dallas was founded in 1920. At that time the focus in business was on sales, but in a much more general and broad term than merely getting someone to buy your product. “Salesman’s News”, for instance, was not a magazine strictly about selling, but a “National Educational and Inspirational Magazine”. The book “The science and art of salesmanship” (by Simon Robert Hoover, 1916) states that “Everyone has something to sell, and his ability to market his commodity or services often determines the measure of his success”. When a group of Dallas men felt the need to formalize an organization based on their desire to serve the community the name came very naturally to them.

EARLY HISTORY

Between 1921 and 1943 the Club ran a summer camp for indigent children on Bachman Lake in Dallas. In 1943 the camp was closed due to a polio epidemic that hit Texas, and the Club took the opportunity to re-evaluate it’s future. The Club went in a different direction with their next facility, and in 1946 they opened a new camp. This one was year-round and residential, and focused on the therapeutic needs of troubled children.

In the 1970s the scope of focus was widened to include meeting the needs of the campers’ families, which resulted in much more efficient therapy.. This step in turn drove the creation of the Club’s outpatient therapy programs which serves troubled children and their families who live at home. In the 1980s and 1990s the Club launched a day treatment school for kids with significant emotional difficulties, which eventually turned into the J Erik Jonsson Community School, which is a private and accredited elementary school for inner-city, at-risk children.

From a fund raising point of view the Club worked with Golden Gloves boxing and various football games. For a long time the first pre-season Cowboys game was used to raise funds for the organization.

CURRENT FOCUS

The Salesmanship Club today focuses their work in three directions: Education, Therapy, and Sharing. They provide educational opportunities to children who may otherwise fall off the grid, and utilize family-based therapy methods to make sure that not only are the kids getting the education they need but their families will be able to provide a more stable environment for them to flourish in. The Club also reaches out by providing training opportunities to education and therapy professionals in other organizations, and there’s a lot of sharing of experiences with other fund raising groups and the organizers of other golf tournaments.

The members are very passionate and dedicated to the work the Club does, and they’re always looking to improve. “One of the core values of the Salesmanship Club is innovation. Our members continually challenge us to come up with new and better ways to help kids and families.” says Kent Skipper, CEO of The Salesmanship Club.

Today the Club has 600 members and an annual budget of about $9.5 million. It employs 100 people to run their charities, and another dozen to put on The Byron (with generous assistance from the members and other volunteers). It has three locations in the Dallas area, and their facilities touch 8,000 lives directly.

THE BYRON

Over it’s history The Byron Nelson Championship has helped raise over $107 million to charities, which is the most of any golf tournament on the PGA Tour. When HP bought EDS they also took over the sponsoring responsibilities of the golf tournament, and the match between HP and The Salesmanship Club has proven to be a very good fit. “HP is turning out to be a great partner because of their tremendous commitment to innovation and to supporting effective approaches in education such as our lab school in Oak Cliff,” Mr. Skipper explains, and he continues: “In addition to their sponsorship of the tournament HP has been very generous in providing hardware to our educational facilities.” HP, in turn, has committed to sponsoring the tournament through 2014, which is a significant statement in a time when other tournaments are falling by the wayside.

Over the past few years they have instituted significant changes not only to the course the tournament is played on but to the fan experience as a whole.

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The HP Byron Nelson Championship is played May 21 through May 24 2009 at the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas outside Dallas, TX. The tournament is affectionately called “The Byron”, and it’s put on by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. The first installment in this series of preview articles was about Byron Nelson himself. Many thanks to Mr. Kent Skipper for taking time out of his busy schedule to contribute to the writing of this article.

>The Byron Preview, part 1 – Byron Nelson

>The HP Byron Nelson Championship (http://www.hpbnc.org/) is played May 21 through May 24 at the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas outside Dallas, TX (http://www.fourseasons.com/dallas/golf.html). The tournament is affectionately called “The Byron”, and it’s put on by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas (http://www.salesmanshipclub.org/). This is the first in a series of preview articles leading up to the tournament.

BYRON NELSON

The numbers speak for themselves, but no matter how impressive Byron Nelson’s records are it’s the quality of the man people talk about first. He set records as a golfer that may never be touched, and it’s only appropriate that the tournament that bears his name continues to set records every year, even after his death.

BEFORE THE TOUR

John Byron Nelson, Jr. was born near Waxahachie, TX on February 4, 1912. Throughout his career on the course and his life afterwards he’s intrinsically linked to fellow PGA Tour greats Sam Snead and fellow Texan Ben Hogan, as the three of them were born within 6 months of each other.

When Byron was 11 his family moved to Fort Worth, and he proceeded to have a close call with typhoid fever. At age 12 he was baptized, and it also marked the beginning of his life in golf, as he started caddying at the Glen Garden Country Club. The fact that caddies were not officially allowed to play on the club didn’t hold Byron back, as he used to sneak onto the course to play in the dark. A couple of years later the rules were relaxed a bit, and Byron defeated fellow caddy Ben Hogan in a 9-hole playoff to win the club’s caddy tournament.

BYRON ON TOUR

Byron Nelson turned pro at age 20 in 1932, initially splitting his time between tournament play and working as a golf pro. It was the latter capacity that took him to Texarcana, TX, where he met his wife to be Louise Shofner.

Byron won his first tournament in 1935, and between then and the end of his career in 1946 he won 52 professional tournaments. His first major victory was at the burgeoning Masters tournament in 1937, when he defeated Ralph Guldahl by two strokes. He also won the US Open in 1939, the PGA Championship in 1940 and 1945, and a second Masters title in 1942.


1945 stands out in Byron Nelson’s career, as he won a total of 18 tournaments, including 11 in a row. Nobody has gotten close to either record since. Tiger Woods has referred to this achievement as “one of the greatest years in the history of sports“.

After his retirement he played very sparingly, but made several more appearences at The Masters. Byron Nelson has a long, fluid swing which many consider the predecessor of the modern golf swing. When engineers built a robot to simulate a golf swing they based it on Byron’s swing, and “Iron Byron” was born.

AFTER THE TOUR

Byron Nelson retired in 1946 to run a ranch, which had been a goal of his throughout his golf career. “I could see the prize money going into the ranch, buying a tractor, or a cow. It gave me incentive.” He also was a popular teacher and golf commentator.

The Dallas based pro tour event started playing in 1956, and Byron Nelson became the first professional golfer to have a tournament named after them in 1968. Of his involvement with the tournament and the charities that benefit from it Byron Nelson has stated “This tournament is the best thing that’s ever happened to me in golf. Better than winning the Masters or the U.S. Open or eleven in a row. Because it helps people.” Over the years the tournament has raised over $100 million dollars for various local charities, more than any other tournament on the PGA tour.


Byron Nelson died of natural causes in 2006 at age 94. After his death, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said of Byron “Our players, young and old, looked to Byron as the consummate role model of our sport. His legacy spans across his historic performances, the gentle and dignified way he carried himself and his tremendous contributions to golf and society.”

>The Loudmouth Chronicles, Day 3

>Another outstanding apparel selection for JD. Looks like something Robert Karlsson would wear to dress up as a medieval jester for Halloween.

I think his backswing is longer than ever, which is saying something.

>The Loudmouth Chronicles, Day 2

>More from JD and the good people at Loudmouth Golf: