The Dallas Athletic Club, one of the first and most prestigious athletic clubs in Dallas, is home to two outstanding golf courses. The Gold Course and the Blue course were originally designed by Ralph Plummer and subsequently redesigned by Jack Nicklaus. After his first major win at the 45th PGA Championship played on the Blue Course in 1963, Jack Nicklaus graciously agreed to be the architect of the Blue Course which was badly needed after an extremely harsh winter in 1984. Jack subsequently remodeled the Gold course five years later.
And Jack did a fantastic job of remodeling the Gold into an excellent 18 holes of golf – it's scenic, memorable, challenging, and fun to play. The Gold Course is aesthetically very pleasing with eight lakes (that are not your typical Texas brown stagnate color), water fountains, natural gently rolling terrain, water falls, gracefully arched stone bridges, and a wide variety of different types of mature and stately trees. All of that plus bunkers and 7169 yards makes the Gold Course not only fun to play but very challenging.
On a number of holes, when we stepped up to the tee box, looked at the hole layout, and checked the yardage and handicap, our initial thought was "what's so hard about this hole? It looks pretty straightforward and easy." But what Jack has done is make it look easy when it is really deceivingly very challenging. On most every hole he'll throw something at you that will test your game. You'll encounter elevated tee shots, forced carries, dog legs, strategically placed bunkers, challenging green complexes, water, narrow fairways, tough approach shots, and gentle up hill shots to elevated greens – plus the Gold Course is a little long at 7169 yards. Maybe all of that is why it has a slope of 142 and a rating of 75.1. Some examples of what you will encounter include:
- #5 will test your nerves off the tee box – its all carry (232 yards from the tips) over the lake to the green which is guarded by 3 bunkers
- #7, a 423 yard par 4, looks like an easy dog leg left but your drive has to be very precise to avoid the three trees which split the fairway and could block your shot to the green
- #8 is a short 395 yard par 4 but it has a strategically placed very steep and deep pot bunker in the middle of the fairway that you need to avoid which may leave you with a very tough approach shot to an odd shaped elevated and slopping green that is well guarded by a long bunker running the length of the green on each side
- #10 is a 400 yard par 4 with a carry over the water from an elevated tee box to a landing zone with bunkers and then uphill to a green with bunkers and mounding and swales
The first time you play the course you may struggle with some of the challenges, but with local knowledge and more rounds on the Gold Course you'll learn how to manage the course – and you won't get tired of playing it because there are a number of fun and memorable holes. For example:
- #1 is a 417 yard sharp dog leg left to a downhill green guarded with water and a bunker – a great risk reward opportunity off the tee to cut the dog leg by flying a fairway bunker and avoiding a huge natural sand area (that you can't see from the tee box) that makes the landing zone a little tight – the safer shot straight down the fairway gives you a very challenging downhill approach shot to the green with a lake protecting the front side
- #11 is a fun roller coaster ride with a downhill tee shot that needs to avoid the creek cutting across the fairway as well as the two fairway bunkers and then uphill to a well guarded green with severe slope and undulation
- #18 will make you want to join Dallas Athletic Club and come back to play this beauty again and again – a 625 yard par 5 that requires a strategic shot off the tee near where the green narrows and turns right to go between a lake on each side and then turns left toward the green
The fairways are all tree lined with a variety of different trees and most of the fairways are a tad tight. When we played, the rough was cut thinner than normal and very playable thanks to a member guest tournament that day. Miss the rough and you're under the trees or in the other fairway. The grass under the trees makes it fairly easy to chip back to the fairway. The fairways and rough were in near perfect condition and the course is meticulously maintained and very well landscaped. The fairways are flat to gently rolling with some big uphill and downhill shots on a few holes. Homes line a couple holes and can come into play.
The bent grass greens were in very good condition, held the ball well, were very slick and fast, and hard to read thanks to subtle breaks. Some have severe slope and undulation and pin placement can be a killer. We hadn't played bent greens for awhile and we had a hard time getting used to them and two and three putts were common for us. I would think that the members would love the greens after playing them for a few rounds.
The bunkers were in perfect condition with soft thick sand. They varied in size from pot sized to huge and long. Most had an average face but make sure you do what you can to avoid the ones that are steep and deep.
Bottom line – the Gold course is fantastic and I wouldn't think that you would get tired of playing it. It will test your game and give you plenty of opportunity to try different clubs and a different strategy each time you play the course.
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The Dallas Athletic Club has a lot of prestige and tradition and the facilities and service are first class. The practice areas are perfect, the pro shop is very well stocked with everything a golfer could want, and the grill and restaurant are excellent.