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Sports: Refurbished par 3 course re-opens as golf takes center stage in DFW

Westdale Hills

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It’s the biggest two weeks for golf in the Fort Worth-Dallas area. First up was the AT&T Byron Nelson, running May 17-20 at its new home, the Trinity Forest Golf Course in Dallas. That event has traditionally been followed by what is called – this year at any rate – the Fort Worth Invitational, played at the only home it’s ever known by whatever name, the Colonial Country Club.

Golf fever hits its peak here during this period. Golfers gather with favorite beverage in hand, hobnobbing and following their favorite players around the course.

Even some who have never picked up a golf club in their lives are inspired to give the game a try. For others of us who never miss a chance to play, we watch humbly as we are reminded why guys like Jordan Spieth make big bucks doing this for a living and we get excited about that birdie we “almost got.”

And though its reopening didn’t quite coincide with the Nelson and Fort Worth Invitational, some of us are excited for another reason. Westdale Hills golf course in Euless is once again open for play.

The nine-hole public course bills itself as the toughest par-3 golf in Texas. Truthfully, it is one of the toughest golf courses I’ve ever played of any size. Each hole has the challenge of water and/or sand, so your short game gets a real workout. The holes are a reasonable distance, with no cheap “gimmes.”

As one of those busy folks who love golf but simply don’t have a lot of time – or money – to give to the sport, such a course is perfect. And with its well-groomed greens and fairways, it’s a beautiful setting.

Westdale Hills, nestled in and named after the apartment community that surrounds it, was closed for over two years while work was done on water lines. Now, it has reopened to the excitement of many, including me.

“Visually, it’s stunning. I missed it a lot. There’s a certain camaraderie on this course,” said Danny Schneider, who started a weekly tournament for employees of American Airlines on the course in 2004.

The course hosts a miniature version of whatever major tournament is happening on the PGA Tour that week. There’s even a green jacket hanging in a frame in the clubhouse, resembling the one given away at the Masters each year.

“I missed it a whole lot,” said Jake Mitchell, who’s been playing there since 2009. “I couldn’t wait for it to reopen. There’s an intimacy you don’t have at longer courses, and it’s very challenging. Plus, you can come out here and play in two hours.”

Westdale Hills Director of Golf Sean Gates said folks were impatient the entire time the course was closed, anxious for their little gem to re-open.

“It was constantly, ‘What’s taking so long?’ ‘When is it coming back?'” he said. “It was good to know they were wanting it back so badly, but we were all impatient and had trouble waiting.”

During the closure, the course’s owners used the extra time to make some improvements to the course, so now it’s not only back, but better than ever. They will host a big tournament on June 1, Gates said, and a grand opening is on the horizon, perhaps the week after.

In the meantime, thanks largely to social media, most fans already know the course is back.

“That word of mouth is spreading. We’re getting back to where we were,” Gates said.

Justin Ensign, who began playing at Westdale Hills in 2012, said the reopening was like “coming back home.”

“I absolutely love it here. It has that special intimate golf appeal,” he said.

Steve Newland, the course’s assistant manager, moved back from Marble Falls for the chance to work at the course when it reopened. He had worked at the course 12 years before it closed.

“The original estimate for us to be closed was between six and eight months,” he said. “I knew we were going to re-open. It was a question of when, one of those bureaucratic things.

“But we’re open, I’m back, and things are better than ever.”

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