8301 Harry Hines Boulevard,
Texas (TX) 75235,
- +1 214 637 1914
5 miles NW of Dallas city centre, south side of Dallas Love Field airport
Members and their guests only
Back in the early 1920s, Cameron Buxton was the businessman who asked his friend A W Tillinghast to source a location for a course in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and the trained eye of the esteemed architect chose the then rural setting, beside one of the Trinity River branches to the west of Dallas.
The Lone Star State is known for the generally poor quality of its earth, much of it clay, but the site selected for Brook Hollow Golf Club was not only slightly undulating in a relatively flat area, it was mainly made up of sandy soil, creating a wonderful, free-draining base for the fairways.
Built on what was at that time open, rolling farmland, the lush acres of the Brook Hollow course have unfortunately become surrounded by urban sprawl on all sides due to the inexorable outward spread of the city of Dallas.
Brook Hollow may be hemmed in somewhat as modern living continues all around at a relentless pace, but within its designated boundary, this classic parkland layout remains an oasis of peace and calm, a veritable golfing refuge from the hustle and bustle outside.
Shot-makers like Ben Hogan have always appreciated this course where, apart from the par threes, there are only two straight holes on the scorecard, the gentle par five 1st and the tough, par four 12th. Seven holes require a fade off the tee and six call for a draw.
One of the hardest holes at Brook Hollow is the slightly uphill, 449-yard 7th hole. This long, difficult par four veers right (with three huge fairway bunkers on the inside of the dogleg) toward a heavily bunkered green that’s framed by enormous pines trees. Little wonder that Hogan, with his ability to power fade, rated this hole as his favourite number 7 in America.
By all accounts, Brook Hollow was the first course to install complete fairway irrigation when it was built in 1921. Seventy-two years later, the course was renovated by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and later by Tripp Davis. However, in 2019 the course closed for a Keith Foster restoration with the express aim of returning the layout to its Tillinghast roots.
Brook Hollow reopened in November 2020 with plenty of 21st century technology underpinning this big budget restoration, including SubAir temperature controlled bentgrass greens.
Keith Foster has recently completed a sympathetic restoration of Brook Hollow. Inside the men’s locker room is a drawing of the original design by A.W. Tillinghast where I do not know if I have ever seen bunkering done that way. Had the course been restored it’s original design, it would be one of the most unique courses one would ever play. For example, the seventeenth, a slight dogleg right par 4 has two inner corner bunkers and a series of nine large oval bunkers on the outer corner extending to the green that are nearly connected, many of them with inner islands. The fifteenth hole, a long par 5 had similar bunkering on its left side. The course as originally constructed was defined buy its amount of sand including central bunkers as well as blowout bunkers now common today but uncommon for the time of construction.
The course was previously touched by suggestions made by Byron Nelson, but more so by an overhaul done by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, which lasted about a decade before Tripp Davis was asked to come in. Although Mr. Davis’s work was initially viewed positively, his deep and aggressive bunkering made the course play more difficult than intended. As this is a course with a committed membership to making the course play with a mixture of strategy, difficulty but ultimately fairness, the club reached out to Keith Foster.
The course sits on somewhat rolling land. The nearby views are impacted by commercial buildings which detracts from the ambience, although the buildings never really overwhelm it other than on holes the par 3 holes on the front nine where at the first you play with an ugly building right behind the green, on seven (one of the better holes on the course), you play towards that same ugly building, and then on eight, the second par 3, you almost expect office workers to walk onto the course from their picnic table set at a shared pond in order to putt out with you on the green.
Another interesting feature of the course is that three tees and three greens sit right in front of the clubhouse., coming in somewhat similar to pieces of a pie. These are the tees for one, ten and seven with the greens being six, nine and eighteen. In fact, six brings one back nearly to the clubhouse where seven-eight-nine make a small, quick loop out and back again. Overall the uniqueness of so much happening in a small space was attractive to me.
There is a nice balance of harder and easier holes on the course. For example, the first hole is very difficult, even if only rated the number five index. This hole was previously a short par 5 and is now a long par 4 at 490 yards from the Tillinghast tee, playing slightly uphill and in our case, directly facing a fairly stiff breeze. Like most of the course, the fairways are wide but well defended with a total of nine bunkers on this hole playing to a raised green. This is followed by the second, a hole that appears to be a slight dogleg left but is actually pretty straight. This hole is only 358 yards from the Tillinghast tee. The fairway has a some nice movement but overall this is a good chance at birdie (I missed my five feet birdie chance). This is followed by another long par 4 at 462 yards, a downhill dogleg left with the left side is protected by a large, tall tree. This green is protected by three deep bunkers and clever mounding. This time I made a sand save to make par. It is a beautiful hole as you turn the corner and the hole is revealed below you.
The fourth is a mid-length par 4 playing slightly uphill to a green that is higher on the right side. This hole has an early sandy/waste area that should not be in play. As mentioned this hole is backdropped by an ugly office building which the club is currently painting the exterior to make it less obnoxious. Between the green and the building is the club’s short game practice/teaching area.
Five is the longest hole on the course at 583 yards. This hole turns right and has two inner bunkers and seven outer bunkers, reminiscent of the original design. I liked this hole quite a lot.
Six returns back to the clubhouse, another somewhat long par 4 with a dip before the green. There used to be a small stream crossing the fairway which I think would improve the hole. I did like the bunkering around the green, particularly the bunker at the rear.
Seven was once praised as one of the best holes in the USA. The longest par 4 on the course at 494 yards, this hole is a dogleg right with bunkering on both sides of the broad fairway. The green is enormous with a lot of internal movement. I did not think it to in the best five holes at Brook Hollow, but it is a difficult par.
Eight is a downhill par 3 over a pond with the pond continuing down the right side.
Nine is a short par 4 at 363 yards playing as a dogleg left around trees on th e left and a deep inner corner bunker. The green is slightly above you and felt like one of the smaller greens on the course.
Ten is the superb short par 3 which I will describe later.
Eleven is almost a mirror image of one, only 40 yards shorter and with fairway bunkers that pinch into the fairway.
Twelve is another long par 4 at 466 yards, playing straight. It is one of the lesser memorable holes on the course.
Thirteen is like the third, a short par 4 playing as a dogleg left going downhill to a very nice green complex. I quite liked this hole.
This is followed by another short par 4, playing uphill as a dogleg right to an interesting green with falloffs and good interior contouring.
Fifteen is a long par 5 playing at the lowest point of the property. This hole has a great hazard stretching across the fairway, perhaps 50 yards in depth. The hole ends in a well defended green. It is one of the best holes on the course.
Sixteen is the last par 3 and the longest at 233 yards, playing slightly uphill to a green well defended by five bunkers. The green has various shelves. It is a difficult hole.
Seventeen is a mid length par 4 playing as a dogleg right. The green is defined by its two front bunkers making for a narrow opening which I was able to find.
Eighteen is a forgettable hole playing essentially straight with a dip before the green. If someone else on the course, this hole would be fine but as the ending hole, one wishes for more.
Brook Hollow’s greens are a mixture of slope and interior movement. They are never overly contoured but have more than adequate movement to keep one guessing as to speed and turn.
The most treacherous green is likely the short par 4 tenth which plays longest at 152 yards with most playing it slightly shorter. The green has a steep, sharp falloff at the front of perhaps 20 feet. This hole is well defended but four deep bunkers with one at the rear. The green itself is vey tilted back to front. It is a hole that maximizes visual appeal with difficulty. For a short par 3 lacking water, one will likely not play a better hole on an inland course.
I liked Brook Hollow. It is a course one could play over and over and not tire of it. I do not think it is likely in the top five of Texas, but one could make a case certainly for somewhere inside the top fifteen. There is a good mixture of difficult and easier holes. Other than the splendid tenth, the par 3’s are likely the least memorable holes on the course. With a bit more of returning to the original design of Tillinghast, this course could be even better.
Keith Foster’s renovation is a resounding success. One year since it opened back up, guest play is beginning to resume, and this Texas gem is back on the map. The course now displays the best of Tillinghast’s original features, with plenty of exciting enhancements made by Foster. The work done was not a complete restoration of the original layout, but it’s certainly significantly more enjoyable that prior versions in recent decades. There’s no shortage of stout par 4s on this par 70, and there’s no easy handshake to get your game started. The opening hole has been converted to a 440+ yard par 4 up the hill, from previously being a scorable par 5. Grass hollows have been discovered, enhanced, and integrated, as is notable on the 1st, 2nd, 8th and 9th, to name but a few. Both the 3rd and the 13th holes play relatively parallel to each other and more from right to left with a sharp downhill approach shot. Even after just a handful of holes, the greens are the immediate star of the show at this venue. Pristine, smooth, and slick are adjectives that come to mind to describe the putting surfaces. The renovation introduced all new putting surfaces and contours. Many of the greens appear rectangular in shape – and as with many of Tillinghast’s great venues on relatively flat land, the visual into the raised greens (pitched back to front) is consistent with cavernous bunkers that absorb your attention. The fairway bunkers are just as deep and are a constant factor with every tee-shot. Bunkers on this course are real hazards, and oftentimes the possibility of hitting a green in regulation from many of the fairway bunkers is all but eliminated. The tree clearance is just wonderful compared to when I last played here 5 years ago, and the removal of awkward vegetation is a great improvement. New features/mounding have been nicely integrated and will continue to settle over time. The back nine offers the most interesting design features. The (re)introduction of several waste areas is just fantastic. The par 3 10th is a glorious sandy site, and Tillinghast’ famous “great hazard” has been built mid-way through the par 5 15th, making the second shot on this long hole a real risk/reward opportunity. My favourite stretch of holes was on the back nine. In addition to the aforementioned 10th, I particularly enjoyed the revamped uphill 14th (best looking par 4 on the course), the wonderful 15th, and the much talked about par 3 16th which easily plays 200 yards up a gentle rise. The topography at the back end of the property definitely offers the best holes, and the closing stretch around the course boundary down to the last green is just fantastic. The approach shot into the guarded 18th green rounds out a really thrilling renovation. With improved practice facilities and the integration of celebrated architectural features often seen at the best courses in the country, gives Brook Hollow a wonderful foundation for future years.
Wow, played UT/OU Friday and this course is an amazing classic course that I had not played since the mid 90s. Great Tillinghast design with square greens that run pure and lots of elevation change.
I’ve played many Tillinghast designs to include: SFGC, Philly Cricket, Bethpage, Winged Foot, and Ridgewood. I would put Brook Hollow up there in terms of rankings. Although a few doglegs it does not get repetitive. The course was in immaculate shape best holes are 2, 4, 7, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17. Back 9 are superior IMO.
I just finished playing the renovated Brook Hollow. I would put this course as my favorite in Texas especially after the renovation. Greens are firm and fast, course condition is amazing, and a great playing experience.
New course is a huge improvement.
As an addendum to Kenny's review, I'm sure he's referring to Keith Foster's restoration versus the previous renovation work done under Coore & Crenshaw; Foster is particularly known for his work at Tillinghast courses and, based on the photos I have seen from this project, it looks like a treat. Stay friends with your host, Kenny!