By Art Stricklin
FRISCO, TX – The PGA of America Frisco project, which will impact North Texas, Oklahoma and all of golf for decades, took another large step forward to completion Tuesday with the ground-breaking for the 500-room Texas-sized Omni PGA Frisco Resort.
The two golf courses, The West by Gil Hanse, which will host 23 PGA of America events over the next 20 years, and The East, a more user-friendly offering by Beau Welling are nearly finished, with both scheduled to open in late 2022 or early 2023.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott was on hand to speak at the ground-breaking for the resort, scheduled to open in 2024, along with a host of political and business leaders from North Texas plus PGA of America President Jim Richerson.
“There will be nothing in the country to compare to this facility,” said Richerson of the fully public facility, “absolutely nothing. We talk a lot of growing golf from the cradle to the grave and this facility will help us do exactly that.”
The 665-acre facility will not only feature the championship courses, Par 72 for the East, Par 71, for the West, but also the newly named Swing, the 10-hole short course, and the Dance Floor, the 72,000 square foot putting course.
“It’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle,” said Welling, on hand for the groundbreaking festivities on a cloudy and windy day on the North Texas prairie. “We had so many stakeholders and people involved, it’s interesting to see it all come together.”
There will be space for a PGA of America teaching facility led by former Four Seasons Las Colinas Director of Instruction Tim Cusack, along with a dedicated space for the Frisco Independent School District students to practice their craft.
There is also room for 12 restaurants including an ice house with plenty of hard drinks to celebrate or commiserate any round at PGA Frisco, a coffee stand, and sports bar with a golf simulator.
“We want to do everything we can to pull people into the game any way possible from the putting course to the short course, the big courses or just walking on the trails and viewing the players,” said Richerson, who is a Senior Vice President for Troon Golf.
The resort, the 12th in Texas with the Omni name on it, will also play a part in what the PGA of America is calling being a part of the Fun Golf Revolution.
It overlooks the 10th and 11th holes of the West Course and will include 500-plus rooms of all shapes and sizes, three large pools for kids, families and adults, a ballroom large enough for any golf-related championship celebration along with any business meetings who want to mix golf with more serious duties.
“Who else would invest $500 million dollars into a resort in the middle of a global pandemic, but we’re glad you did,” Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney told Omni CEO Bob Rowlings during the ceremony.
The four-story PGA of America national headquarters will be here along with the Northern Texas PGA headquarters and the PGA of America Educational Facility which will draw pros from around the region and across the country for certification.
All 20 minutes from an international airport, one of the busiest in the world, 40 minutes north of downtown Dallas and 50 minutes from Oklahoma’s border.
“It’s going to be fun to sit back and watch all the tournaments and the golf unfold at these courses,” said Welling, “either in person or on TV. I’m a big tent guy so I designed my course (West) to appeal to the good players and the beginners or my grandmother.
“The fairways are going to be wide enough to not give you much trouble, but the greens will be more undulated and put a premium on putting and chipping. There will be bunkers near the greens, but also ways to get around them. Most amateurs can get off the tee somewhere, but struggle in the bunker, so we took all of those things into account in making this the best and most fun course we could build.”
Plus, the halfway house snack shop, located on the highest point of land at the project, 100 feet above the surface, will be passed by golfers three different times during their round.
While the courses are nearly totally finished, Welling said the plan is to let the site sit idol for more than a year to fully grow in and be ready for the onslaught from public golfers of all ability levels to attack the courses starting in 2023.
“I promise you it will be tempting to see the courses from our offices, but we can’t wait to showcase to the world what PGA Frisco will mean for golf,” said PGA Vice-President John Easterbrook.