Laid out on the shores of Lake Lewisville, the course at the Old American Golf Club is a collaborative offering from the design team of Tripp Davis and Justin Leonard.
According to Tripp Davis, Old American was laid out as a complement to its neighbour, The Tribute at The Colony Golf Club, which he also designed.
“While the Tribute focuses on the architecture of Scottish courses, Old American is a tribute to early American golf architecture with such designs as Shinnecock, National Golf Links, and Garden City used as inspiration. Both the Tribute Golf Links and Old American reside on Lake Lewisville on the outskirts of Dallas. The golf course has been designed in conjunction with high-end homes and resort style elements including a hotel and beach club. All but four holes have lake views. Construction began on February 12th, 2008 and construction was completed in the summer of 2009, with the official opening in the fall of 2010.”
Justin Leonard said: “We'd like to be one of only a few 36-hole facilities with two public courses in the Top 100. This would put Old American in the elite company of such facilities as Bandon Dunes and Whistling Straits. Our goal is to put a great product out there that everyone enjoys playing.”
I liked Old American very much. It played like a Scottish links and was an unusual layout full of interesting holes with roughcast bunkers, tight turf and , as I recall, quite fast greens. The architects did a good job and its a course I would definitely go back to.
Approaching the end of The Colony—a peninsular North Dallas community reaching out into Lewisville Lake—one will find two tribute golf courses. One is literally The Tribute, a compilation of classic templates inspired by the great links courses. The second draws inspiration from the courses of the Golden Age, but only in design sensibility. Designer Tripp Davis and player consultant Justin Leonard do not overindulge in template worship, which is a refreshing way of approaching a retrospective. Once you have gotten past the club’s beige title (some suggestions…”The Colony,” “Old Lewisville,” “Anything Else, Really”), you’ll have very little to complain about.
It is tempting to look at a course, consider the shape of its bunkers, and conclude that it is Mackenzie-inspired. But Davis and Leonard dig deeper into both that man, and that age, to unlock a more profound truth of the Golden Age at Old American. The first hole, a borderline Cape that flirts with disaster for its entire length, may frustrate the modern golfer. It is no firm handshake, but rather a firm round of arm-wrestling. Such is the wonder of a course intended for matchplay and—although we’ve found nothing in the club’s bylaws that says this openly—Old American is intended for matchplay. Whether it’s a blind dogleg on a short Par 5 (No. 7), a strategic tree standing at the corner off the tee (No. 14) or an enormous fairway offering dozens of angles, the course invites you to either outwit or out-risk your opponent. Just about every hole of more than two shots requires some degree of thought to accompany skill. The Par 3s will require reading not only Golden Age green slopes but also significant winds off of the lake (No. 12, with admittedly a little Road Hole in its blood, is in good position to cause havoc).
This is the essence of matchplay, which is arguably the essence of the Golden Age. So don’t be mad when you can conquer a particularly nefarious pin position at No. 1. Instead, be glad you didn’t double from an ill-informed and aggressive approach, like your matchplay rival.
If you’re going to be frustrated by anything, let it be the club’s name.