Review of Old American Golf Club – The Colony Texas
Old American Golf Club in The Colony opened for play on September 1, 2010. And what a great course with a unique and memorable layout, very good conditions, challenging green complexes, and over 130 bunkers to keep you on your game.
Tripp Davis and Justin Leonard designed Old American with a 1910 to 1930’s golf course playing style and the look and feel of some of the masterpieces from that era such as Shinnecock Hills (established in 1931), National Golf Links (built in 1911), Prairie Dunes and Crystal Downs. They’ve thought of everything to make this reminiscence of the older courses including the old style yardage book (a must for it’s hints and tips), cart paths of decomposed granite that are emblematic of paths on courses from the north east, and short beautifully polished wood pins with antique attachments. During your round you’ll encounter many large flowing bunkers, native grasses, challenging green complexes, wide landing zones off the tee box, rolling fairways, and subtle elevation changes that will challenge players of all levels and provide a unique test of your golf game. When you play Old American for the first time, don’t bite off more than you can chew – there are 5 sets of tee boxes on the scorecard and one additional tee box for the really long hitters. Yardages range from 5226 to 7174 yards and the rating of over 74 and slope of more than 141, from the tips Old American is rated as one of the toughest courses in Texas. But don’t let that scare you, just move up a set of tee boxes and you’ll have a memorable round.
Old American is visually pleasing as well – 15 holes provide views of Lake Lewisville and eight holes play along the shoreline. On a hot summer day, at times it’s hard to keep your focus on golf thanks to all the beautiful yachts, jets skis, and bathing beauties on what looks like cool refreshing water. At times when we played in July with a temperature in the 100s, we were tempted to toss the clubs and run and jump in the lake.
In stark contrast to many modern courses that are tricked up and heavy on eye candy and visual stimulation, Davis set out to create a classic and strategic design with Old American. This course will throw a lot at you and it requires you to play strategically. You’ll encounter dog legs, over 130 bunkers, several risk reward opportunities, prevailing winds, sloping and contoured fairways, some forced carries, minor elevation changes, and very difficult green complexes. The GPS is fantastic with touch functionality to show you distances to any target and a fly over with hints which make sure you pay attention to if you want to stay out of trouble.
The Old American Golf Club front nine is a par 35 with 3 par 3 and this nine has more bunkers than the back. I know because I found several on each hole and collected enough sand to build a sandbox for the grandkids! The back nine is outstanding and has several holes that play along the shoreline of Lake Lewisville. Each of the nines are home to some excellent holes, for example,
#3 is a hard 580 par 5 and if you risk biting off more than you can chew by trying to fly the huge bunkers guarding the short cut or try to nail the green and miss, par will be evasive – but its an easy par 5 if you avoid the risky shots and take the safe route
#5 is a 474 yard par 4 where an aggressive tee shot gives you a good angle to the pin and shortens the dog leg left but miss it and you’re looking at a bogey or better
on the tee box of #9 you may ask “how hard can this short 371 yard par four be?” and then you may find you drove the natural area that cuts across the fairway leading to an uphill well protected green or you’ve got a very uneven lie on the rolling, sloping, and contoured fairway making for a challenging approach
the seventh hole which is a 506 yard par 5 with 18 bunkers and the smallest green with plenty of slope and undulation will most likely require your best sand shots
the very fun #1 handicap #15 is a 488 yard par four with two huge bunker complexes, a fairway bunker, and a blind second shot and requires accuracy all the way to the green
#16 is the shortest par 4 at 351 yards and it will tempt you to go for the challenging green but poor positioning can result in a bogey or worse
and Tripp Davis claims that #16 to #18 provide one of the most dramatic finishes in golf – #18 for example is a 553 yard par 5 with a risk reward shot to try and carry the lake plus 2 pot and 2 huge monster bunkers followed by 11 more bunkers including a couple that split the middle of the fairway- you’ll be ready for a drink after this beauty
Old American has a links style feel to it and most of the fairways are wide and forgiving off the tee box. The fairways were in very good condition for July – a tad dry and burned in some areas but Texas is still in a drought and the temperature has been over a 100. The other good news is that the Old American Golf Club fairways are firm giving you lots of extra roll. The first cut was very playable and there are no homes or few trees to contend with. Miss the fairway and you’ve got a problem – the natural areas are dense and love golf balls. The tee boxes are perfect and they don’t require a hammer to drive your tees in.
The greens were also in near perfect condition, rolled well, and were very true, if you could read the breaks properly which we thought was easy. They were running about a 9 on the Stimp meter – a perfect speed. Most of the greens are smaller than average, well guarded, elevated, and have both slope and undulation. A number of the greens are oblong making them harder to hit on the approach. In most cases, it’s best to try a bump and run. We found that the major challenge during our round was hitting and holding the greens in regulation!
With over 130 bunkers, you will get some sand time but the good news is the sand is firm and most of the bunkers are treated as waste bunkers – meaning you can remove impediments, ground your club, and take a practice swing but you can’t improve your lie. The sand is firm and if you can clear the lips, which in most cases are one to two feet, you’ll have a good recovery shot. The rough around the bunkers will devour you ball – it’s thick and dense and tougher to get out of then the bunkers. You’ll encounter bunkers of all shapes and sizes (small oval pot bunkers to huge multi fingered monsters – so large that at times I wanted to bring out the beach chairs and an umbrella, order a Margarita, and pretend I was at the beach), some that run most of the length of the fairway or green, some that are steep and deep, several in the middle of the fairway, and plenty around the greens.
Old American is a blast to play and very fair if you play smart. It gives you the opportunity to bite off as much as you want, take risks, or play conservative and most likely turn in a good score. This is a course that you will want to play again. It’s pricey but well worth it.
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The new Clubhouse is great with an excellent patio overlooking the 10th hole, a restaurant with some very good food, and a small pro shop with the basics. The practice facilities are good. There are no cart ladies but you can order food and drinks from your cart which will be delivered. Old American Golf Club has several other nice touches like cold towels, water, Gatoraid, and snacks (trail mix, crackers, bars) available at a couple different locations on the course.
The new clubhouse is outstanding and we now offer a comprehensive training program for all ages.
Blake - firstname.lastname@example.org head pro