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Dallas Athletic Club - Gold Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 8.9

Golf - Private Course · 36 Holes · Par 72
Dallas
Website · Locate This Course
Date Last Played: October 15, 2010

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Dallas Athletic Club - Gold Course Review

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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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 7,169 75.1 142
Gold 6,843 73.9 139
Blue 6,349 71.5 134
White 5,783 68.7 128
Red 5,169 72.3 130

Course Information

Course Architect:
Jack Nicklaus that is challenging, scenic, memorable, and in great condition
Greens Type:
Bent
Greens Condition
8.8
Greens Difficulty
9.0
GPS:
No
Walkable:
Yes
Beware of water on 11 holes and the 48 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
8.9 out of 10
Beauty:
9.0
Difficulty:
9.2
Variety:
8.8
Fun to Play:
9.0
Condition:
9.0
Front Nine Rating:
8.8
Back Nine Rating:
9.3
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FEES & AMENITIES

Initiation Fees: $10,001 to $25,000
Monthly Dues: $201 to $400

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.

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Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.