October 18, 2019 By: Erik Matuszewski — The two golf courses being built concurrently at the PGA of America’s future headquarters in Frisco, Texas, are still almost 2 ½ years away from welcoming golfers, but expectations are high. They’re already set to host six major championships and will also have a major impact on the non-professional game as both a community hub and the home to national player development and coaching programs.
“With these world class courses as the centerpiece, PGA Frisco will become the modern home of American golf,” PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said during a preview of the facility. PGA President Suzy Whaley said the East and West championship courses, designed by architects Gil Hanse and Beau Welling, respectively, will be the “heartbeat” of PGA Frisco.
The PGA of America announced plans in December 2018 to move its headquarters to Frisco from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, as part of an innovative public-private investment worth more than $520 million. The new headquarters will anchor a 660-acre, mixed-use development that features the two 18-hole golf courses, a 10-hole short course and practice areas in addition to a 500-room resort, office space, a conference center, retail village, parks and open space.
Construction on the golf courses is expected to be finished in the fall of 2021, which allows for a grow-in period prior to the official planned opening in spring of 2022.
Hanse, Welling and PGA of America leaders shared initial details of the two layouts, which will have unique personalities.
The Hanse-designed East Course is being built to host major events such as the 2025 and 2031 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the 2027 and 2034 PGA Championship, while Welling has designed the West Course to be more welcoming to players of various skill levels.
The East Course, which opens and closes with par-5 holes that stretch more than 600 yards, incorporates rolling topography, natural dry washes and the meandering Panther Creek to provide a strategic challenge for golfers.
“After we have exhausted all that Mother Nature has given us we will work hard to build our features and any earth moving in a manner that looks like it has always been there,” Hanse said. “Our goal is to create a course that sits softly on the land and draws its style and cues from the surrounding landscape.”
Hanse and his team recently restored the championship course at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and will incorporate a lot of features that golf course architect Perry Maxwell employed at Southern Hills and his other course designs in the area. These include smallish greens with gentle rolls, strong slopes and roll-offs at the edges that place a premium on accurate approach shots. The bunkers will be naturally roughhewn and blend in with the prairie grasses that will surround the holes.
The finishing holes have been built with drama in mind and Waugh says the stadium setting at the 18th hole will be “one of the loudest settings in championship golf.” A par-72 layout that tops out at 7,603 yards, the course closes with the 506-yard par-4 16th hole, the 150-yard par-3 17th and then the 611-yard par-5 18th. Outside the ropes, Hanse and his team have allocated enough room to handle the demands of a modern-day major championship.
The West Course is set among the rolling hills of North Texas and has been designed by Welling to offer an enjoyable, yet strategic test of golf. The course rambles along Panther Creek and is surrounded by native field grasses, live oaks and mesquite trees. The property features 75 feet of elevation change and takes advantage of a man-made wetlands created to support native species.
Shot-making and creativity is encouraged, with large, undulating greens and low-cut green surrounds that can inspire a bump-and-run style of play.
“Expansive fairways average roughly 75 yards wide throughout the course to promote enjoyment for all levels of golfers as well as to encourage different routes of play,” said Welling. “Teeing grounds have also been planned within the fairway height of cut to promote flexibility in the course setup further supporting a fun, yet challenging test of golf that can be both a family-friendly experience as well as a championship caliber test.”
The 10-hole short course, meanwhile, follows in the footsteps of fun, welcoming layouts like the Cradle at Pinehurst, Bandon Preserve at Bandon Dunes or the Sandbox at Sand Valley. The holes range from 30 to 100 yards in length, with a routing that looks to balance playability and strategy. The design, developed jointly by Hanse and Welling, is meant to offer a variety of shots and scenarios to challenge experienced golfers, while also providing a welcoming option for newcomers.