Memberships May Top $150K, and What Else We've Learned of Dallas' New Golf Course

harbor shores.jpg
Will Trinity Forest be like Harbor Shores in Michigan? Inquiring Angelas want to know.
The full Dallas city council just got its first chance to learn a little more about the proposed golf course that the city and AT&T want to build in southern Dallas. There's still a lot for the city to work out before it agrees to clean up and lease the land to the yet-unformed nonprofit, but we did learn a few things from today's discussion:

Memberships may cost more than $150,000. "This is going to be a golf course ... that's really out of the reach of just about everyone in the city of Dallas," councilman Scott Griggs said, throwing out the ballpark figure of $100,000 to $150,000. "Might even be more than that," City Manager Mary Suhm said.

It's not in a floodplain. Some folks were worried about that. But the course, Suhm said, is not in a floodplain. Surrounding areas, however, are, which might limit what development can happen. "A lot of people say, 'You can build houses near the course,'" Suhm said. "Not in a floodplain in the woods."

Angela Hunt wants answers. She wants answers? She thinks she's entitled to them. She. Wants. Answers? SHE WANTS THE TRUTH.

Specifically, the councilwoman wants to know what the economic impact of the Byron Nelson tournament would be. The city says $32 million, but she wants it in detail. She also wants to see some "success models." Is this like East Lake, the Atlanta course cited by Tod Robberson, or like Harbor Shores, the Michigan course cited by Hunt and Eric Celeste?

"What is it? Mixed use, high-end residential, what are we walking about?" she asked of the development that will be so spurred. "I'm open to it, [but] I have a lot of questions."

If you're not on it, you'll never know the course is there. Councilwoman Linda Koop said it was important that we "have sight lines so that people have a sense of importance ... So many of them (golf courses) are closed off that you don't even know they're there."

To which Suhm said: "The west side and south side are in flood plain, in a forest, and by a river." In other words: Not seeing it is what makes it great.

This is totally not like the horse park. "This is exactly what we heard on the horse park," councilwoman Sandy Greyson told Suhm, "and what we have wound up with is that we are building the whole thing for two nonprofits. What I do not want to see happen is for you all to come back and say ... we are going to build this whole thing."

"We will not be building a golf course," Suhm said, rather emphatically. "We don't need a [city-owned] golf course."

And so it is written.

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hmmmm - woods, floodplain, really really rich folk teeing it up, thousands watching the nelson.

can you say west nile?


No golf courses in the floodplain - too many drilling rigs.


I don't see any reason to care about this golf course (one way or the other). If the numbers we've seen are true (I would like more disclosure of that), this seems to be the deal:

  • City leases land no one currently uses, plans to use, or likely will use in the foreseeable future for almost nothing in rent;
  • City cleans up the property as it has already been ordered to do by the state to the tune of $8-10 million (in other words, this isn't really part of the "deal")
  • City kicks in $2-4 million in some sort of seed money for uses unknown (the only part that seems objectionable so far, and must be weighed against any purported benefits)
  • Golf-club sells memberships to rich people who otherwise would have no reason to drive south of I-30, and who likely won't be stopping anywhere south of I-30 before or after a round of golf
  • Golf-club builds golf course for $40-50 million, using membership dues (and perhaps $2-4 million in City money)
  • The Byron Nelson moves to Dallas, and for at least a few years fills the course, bringing some but not huge economic impact.
I still haven't seen anything explaining why I should care (other than the non-stop coverage telling me I should care). It all boils down to the City kicking in $2-4 million to bring the Byron Nelson to Dallas and to have another nice golf course to promote to wealthy CEOs that might be interested in relocating their companies to Dallas. Both the costs and the benefits seem low, suggesting to me that this is a marginal story at best.

ScottsMerkin topcommenter

so again, you are going to build a course that only the highest .5% of Dallas can afford and you think that will spur development?   Oh and you cant build houses because its a floodplain.  So lets see, no one can live there, only the bubble residents can afford to even go there and play and you think this is a good idea.   Boy the city really is fucked up..


So why does Dallas need another over-priced golf course?


The dues are a real plus - soaking the rich to play a game that frustrates so many of them.


Take their cost estimates, double or triple them, and that is more likely what it costs the city to build a golf course most of us will never afford to play.


You guys sure are fixated on this incredibly uninteresting story. 

joe.tone moderator

@Guesty I think you're mostly right. Whether the course gets built or not is not terribly interesting; given what's known, it would probably be good for the city, if only for the Nelson. 

What I think interests people is that the city -- and the city's main booster -- are trying to argue that it's going to somehow save southern Dallas. It's less about the course and more about comedy of the premise: That an ultra exclusive club is going to turn around an entire beleaguered section of a large city.

Your commentary on the subject has been very solid, by the way, so I'm glad you're chiming in despite your disinterest.


@DOCensors - There is potential for exclusion of those who would never use it, which might result in envy, which is a sin.


@DOCensors Oh Ms. Suhm, it's going to be fun digging up all the details on this. Really fun.


@Guesty its cute how naive you sound. Almost like you just moved to. Dallas. The city will end up forking over a boatload of cash in the end, under the guise of "saving" an area that isn't saveable.

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