Dallas Athletic Club - Blue Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.0

Golf - Private Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
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Dallas Athletic Club - Blue Course Review

The Dallas Athletic Club, founded in 1919, is one of the oldest and most prestigious athletic clubs in Dallas.  And it is home to two fantastic Jack Nicklaus courses - the Blue and the Gold Course.  The Blue course, originally designed by Ralph Plummer, suffered from a harsh winter in 1984 and Jack Nicklaus agreed to be the architect of the remodel.  Jack won his first major win on the Blue Course at the 45th PGA Championship in 1963.  The Gold Course was also remodeled by Jack in 2002.

Both courses have their own unique personality and characteristics.  The Gold Course has the reputation of being a little easier and more traditional.  The Blue Course is a little tighter, 200 yards shorter, a stroke or two harder, and has more water holes and bunkers. 

With a rating of 74.3 and a slope of 143, the Blue Course is no walk in the park - and what a beautiful park it is with ponds, a variety of trees, pristine landscaping, creeks, and waterfalls.  The key to scoring well on the Blue Course is knowledge of the course from the members or from repeated play, course management, good putting, and picking  the right set of tee boxes - there are 5 to choose from with yardages of 5288 to 6922.  

The Blue Course also demands some good club selection and target golf.  The tree lined fairways are tight, most of the holes are dog legs, and green complexes are challenging.   Plus you have water on 12 holes and 65 bunkers to contend with.  But don't let that discourage you - pick the right set of tee boxes and play smart and you'll have a very fun and enjoyable round. 

There are some great holes on the Blue Course that you won't forget and you'll want to play again, for example:

  • #1 gives you a feel for what your round will be like - a 518 yard par 5 that's narrow all the way to the dog leg right downhill well guarded green
  • #5 is the #1 handicap hole - a 428 yard par 4 with a risk reward shot to try and carry the lake and the trees and avoid the two strategically placed bunkers leaving you a shot at the dog right green which is slightly downhill and protected with a creek with two beautiful waterfalls in front of it
  • #8 is a short  uphill 361 yards but a minefield of 14 treacherous bunkers of all shapes and sizes plus one in the middle of the fairway and most of the traps are steep and deep
  • #11 is a real beauty - only 371 yards, but the #2 handicap that requires a precise shot off the tee box to give you a shot at hitting the green with two bunkers and a creek with two beautiful waterfalls guarding the green

All of the par 3's will also test your nerves - they are long (178, 200, 210, and 208 yards from the tips), with forced carries all the way over water to green on three of them, and bunkers, swales, and berms guarding the greens.   Beautiful holes with little room for error off the tee box. 

Both of the Dallas Athletic Club courses are meticulously maintained and in near perfect condition.  The Blue Course is aesthetically pleasing with a wide variety of stately trees, creeks and ponds, waterfalls, stone bridges, and colorful landscaping around a few holes. 

The fairways on the Blue Course are tight and tree lined with homes on only a couple holes.  The rough was cut thin and manageable when we played, but you still need to stay in the fairways to have a good round.  If you do miss the fairways your ball will be ricocheting off the trees, but its fairly easy to find it and chip back to the green.  If you really spray the ball, in most cases  you'll end up in another fairway and have a challenging shot under or back over the trees to the right fairway or green - good news is that you didn't loose your ball, however you may still end up buying the drinks. 

The fairways are excellent condition and are gently rolling with some elevated tee boxes and green complexes.  And you'll encounter deep swales and big berms, particularly surrounding the greens.

The greens can be very challenging with lots of slope, tiers, and undulation - pin placement can be a killer.  When we played they had just been sanded, so it was hard to judge the speed.  They are all shapes and sizes and we are told that they run a 10 to 12.  They are fast, but true and there are plenty of subtle and hard to read breaks.  The greens are very soft and hold well.  After playing them a few times, my guess is that you would be able to read them well and you'd  love 'um. 

The bunkers are another story - plenty of them, all shapes and sizes, strategically placed, and most are high lipped or steep and deep.  The good news is the sand is soft and thick.  Either the members never land in the bunkers or someone follows them with a rake - 99% of them were perfect with no divots, foot prints, or uneven rake tracks. 

Bottom line - a scenic, fun, and challenging track in great condition that you'll want to play again and you shouldn't get tired of playing it. 

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 6,922 74.3 143
Blue 674 70.8 133
White 5,790 69.3 127
Gold 6,621 73.0 140
Red 5,288

Course Information

Course Architect:
Jack Nicklaus
Greens Type:
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Beware of water on 12 holes and the 65 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
9.0 out of 10
Fun to Play:
Front Nine Rating:
Back Nine Rating:


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

Service is ok, the pro shop is very well stocked, the practice facilities are excellent, and there are good choices for food - from a grill with hamburgers to a gourmet buffet. The Dallas Athletic Club also has a fine dining restaurant, fitness center, tennis courts, swimming pool, and other amenities.



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.