The magic of a lifelong close friendship was the impetus for a reunion that I won’t long forget.
After too many years of not seeing each other, we figured it to be 17, truly one of my closest childhood friends, Cal Duthie, along with his now adult son, Mitchell, were part of our trip to Big D, Dallas Texas.
Back in the spring when Myra informed me that she longed to see her sister Val down in Crawfordville, Florida I began thinking about combining this visit with a multiple golf course review trip. We decided to include a mega sports week in Dallas, Texas. This included my first chance to see my beloved Dallas Cowboys and also attend a couple of NHL games.
Naturally a few rounds of golf were a given. As I researched golf courses in the Dallas area one in particular made me sit up in my chair, Cowboys Golf Club. How could I not play a course that paid homage to my team? Digging deeper I saw that it was run by Arcis Golf and they had a number of other reputable courses under their management umbrella. Looking at the time we had available to tee it up, I chose 2 other courses The Golf Club at Fossil Creek and Bear Creek Golf Club. I contacted Mr. Chris Crocker, Chief Marketing Officer for Arcis Golf, with a view to review all three courses beginning with Cowboy Golf Club. Our golf began the day after attending the Sunday Night Football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and The Dallas Cowboys at the gargantuan and somewhat overly ostentatious AT & T Stadium aka “Jerry’s World”.
Mr. Crocker could not have been more cooperative and helpful, not only providing immediate feedback with a very positive overture, but also forwarding me the names of each key contact at all three courses for me to deal with directly. It was obvious to me that Arcis Golf had a very sound ethos. Bearing that in mind, I looked forward to not only the day of play at each course but engaging with the aforementioned key contacts as well as other staff members.
The inclusion of Cal and his son Mitch was a bit of a fluke and an amazing coincidence really. During one of many phone chats we had this summer catching up on our lives, the conversation turned to one of our common interests, the Cowboys and golf. We were two dyed-in-the-wool Cowboys fans and had spent countless Sunday afternoons and Monday Nights back in the 70’s wearing our team’s colors and cheering them on too many outstanding victories. These were the days of offensive stalwarts like Tony Dorsett, Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson and of course defensive icons like Randy White, Ed “Too Tall” Jones plus the rest of the pro bowlers and journeymen gridiron soldiers. We also religiously never worked on US Thanksgiving watching all 3 NFL games with other rabid NFL fans.
I had mentioned to Cal that reviewing courses was now a big part of our holidays when Myra and I travel. I also told him we were going to include a visit to Dallas on our way back from Florida and catch a Cowboys game. He expressed that he and Mitch were going to a game also and voila he was going to the same game Myra and I were attending on November 19th.
We then coordinated the trip to include a round of golf at Cowboys Golf Club. Cal knowing I had good planning skills left all the details to me and Myra.
The game itself does not justify much of a mention other than the fact 4 of us really gelled and had a blast together. The real highlight was our day playing golf at Cowboys Golf Club. Whereas the football game was an overpriced, lack lustre affair, the golf outing was a 10 out of 10. What follows here on will enlighten you as to why.
After picking the guys up at their hotel, we arrived at Cowboys Golf Club located closer to Fort Worth than Dallas itself, in Grapevine, Texas. The day was warm and breezy, in the mid 70’s.
While the rest of the fantastic four browsed around the clubhouse, I searched out General Manager Hagen Cleek. Seated in his office, he explained in detail that a day at Cowboys GC was quite different and unique from anywhere else in golf. He was totally accurate.
The mandate of the course Hagen explained was to provide an overall leisure experience not just a round of golf. There was a very relaxed emphasis on pace of play with 4 hrs. 45 minutes being the target time. The fee that you pay also entitles you to an all in one package. Mr. Cleek personally escorted me to the pro shop counter obtaining 4 magnetized badges, one for each of us. He then followed me to the Ring of Honor Kitchen and Bar where the other 3 were having a coffee and warmly introduced himself. He handed each one of us our small Cowboys badges which we attached to our golf shirts. He went on to say that these badges indicated to the staff that we were paid guests.
Part of the entitlement as a golfer is access to the restaurant and the on course grill that comes into play when you pass by it on holes 7 and 11. By access I mean all food during your entire time at Cowboys Golf Club is included at no extra charge. This also includes all snacks and non-alcoholic beverages from the beverage cart. Are you kidding me, free M and M’s!
The food services were outstanding and I can honestly say the kitchen and serving staff were of a very high caliber. We literally had a delicious breakfast served by the very radiant Martha, their signature jalapeno sausages and hot dogs with fried onions and cheese out on the course courtesy of Elia and finished up the day having an amazingly tasty dinner which included a salad laced with the freshest of ingredients. Terri, our waitress who was a sweetheart of a gal, brought all 3 of us men a chicken breast on a sour dough bun. Not long after she removed three completely empty plates. Myra who lights up when she sees certain comfort foods on the menu was giddy when her meat loaf and mashed potatoes came to the table.
I can honestly say all the food was delicious and matched the quality of the golf course which is breathtaking. What a fantastic course in every way and it yielded some amazing shots by all of us. Designer Jeff Brauer and his team really nailed this one.
We began with a pep talk by the starter, Mauri, an 87-year-old stud of a guy still shooting his age on a regular basis. We yielded the first tee shot to Cal, his swing looking just as smooth as it did the last time we played some 17 years ago. Mitch was a bubbly little boy when he used to join Cal and some of our other buddies for a game of golf up in Prince George, British Columbia, many years ago. The 2017 version is a 6’5’ 215 lb. lean specimen of a man. Well-mannered and even keeled he never wavered the entire round and displayed a swing that would be the envy of a tour pro. He is a remarkable ball striker.
Myra, admittedly nervous on the first tee, told me she wanted to play well for me in front of Cal and Mitchell. I told her to relax the guys are wonderful to be around and she settled in right from the opening shot.
There were many highlights other than the course itself including Myra’s 2 fantastic pars and Mitches 2 birdies, one as result of driving the green on a 335-yard Par 4. I humbly had some really good pars, but couldn’t get the elusive birdie to land but the shot of the day which was reserved for Cal.
It was fitting that it occurred on the signature hole the Par 4 number 4 from an elevated tee. Each tee box on the course includes a plaque mounted on a rock recounting historical moments in Dallas Cowboys folklore and the tee markers are small Cowboys stars, a very cool touch.
With the famous blue star of the Cowboys logo emblazoned on the middle of the fairway, Cal from a nasty deep Bermuda grass lie he was none too familiar with, gouged a 6 iron from 165 over a bunker and onto the green. A two putt here may have cemented his nomination for “hole of the day”. With 35 feet left including at least 3 feet of break what ensued must have made his trip all the way from northern Alberta even more worthwhile. On these impeccably smooth greens his puttl was tracking like a Troy Aikman long bomb and it entered the hole firmly for an amazing birdie. What followed was Cal’s version of the Hale Irwin US Open celebratory dance high fiving all 3 of us as he galloped around the green. What a rush, high fives, hugs and hand bumps were repeated as we headed to the next hole.
The day flowed perfectly and as you can see in these pictures even as it came close to dusk on 18, the course is a marvel of design with undulating smooth
greens, nice fluffy bunkers, tight fairways and yes sadly for us Canadians, that treacherous Bermuda grass in the rough.
The GPS on the carts was very helpful to all of us and the last 6 holes were as good a finish in golf as I have played. Mitch was low man at 84, then me at 90, Cal 101 and Myra at 107 only a shot off her best score.
After our great dinner,r we went and spent some time with Logan, in the well laid out and very polished Pro Shop, who kindly took our group photo and shared some great Texas style golf stories. It was a fitting end to this monumental day bonding 4 people, 2 Cowboys fans, a Lions fan and a Pats fan under the clear blue Texas sky.
A tip of the hat to the superintendent and the greens keepers, the unsung heroes, who often go unmentioned and again to Arcis Golf, a company leading the way in golf course management and daily golf operations.