Whispering Pines No. 1 golf course in Texas for fifth straight year
By BILL NICHOLS / The Dallas Morning News
One is nestled in a peaceful setting, muffled by towering trees. It’s cut off from golfing inhabitants for about half the year. Even its name evokes soothing images.
The other is hidden in a natural paradise within view of the Dallas skyline. It’s secluded among massive trees, deep canyons and plateaus.
But quiet? Whispering Pines and Dallas National?
In what is becoming a rite of spring, the courses poke their heads from their unique surroundings and emit roars heard across the state.
Whispering Pines earned the No. 1 spot in The News’ annual ranking of Texas courses for the fifth straight year. Only Colonial Country Club has done better, ranking No. 1 for seven straight years (1989-95). Dallas National was second for the fourth straight year.
Whispering Pines and Dallas National are vastly different layouts. But they are bonded by the spectacular design features carved from their unique topographies.
“Dallas National and Whispering Pines represent golf at its purest level with an unyielding commitment to maintaining the game’s honorable traditions,” said panelist Darrell Crall, executive director of the Northern Texas PGA. “They both feature immaculate, championship-caliber turf conditions, world class service and hospitality, and very memorable golf holes.”
Whispering Pines, designed by Chet Williams and Bill O’Leary of the Nicklaus Design Group, meanders through 400 acres of piney woods. Tom Fazio created Dallas National in the mold of classics like Augusta National and Pine Valley on what he called “the best piece of land left in America close to a major city.”
“Both of those courses are on fabulous pieces of property,” said panelist Allen Hundley, a Dallas amateur who gave high marks to both layouts.
“If you give Fazio that kind of property and that kind of budget, then he’s going to do a fantastic job. They can set it up tough to challenge the highest level of competition, but it’s a fun casual round for everyone if played from the proper tees. Whispering Pines is so natural it looks like they just cut the grass to make the golf course.”
Dallas National, just 6½ miles from downtown, was unearthed by John MacDonald, who convinced Fazio to visit the site, which rolls over three plateaus and two canyons. The land sat untouched because of its geological significance and zoning restrictions.
Fazio made true on his promise to members to exceed all expectations. The layout oozes “wow” factor with its striking elevation changes.
“The unusual topography and classic layout of the holes at Dallas National remind me of some of the great golf courses in the Northeast,” Crall said. “And the sweet smell from the towering pine trees combined with the subtle yet significant challenges on each hole at Whispering Pines makes me think of some of the country’s best courses located in the sandhills of North Carolina.”
Opened: March 2000
Designer: Chet Williams (Nicklaus Design Group)
Length: 7,480 yards from the tips
Notable: Members make an annual contribution to the nonprofit World Health & Golf Association. The WHGA charities support health related causes and the promotion of amateur golf, according to the golf club’s Web site. … The course is open March 24 to July 2 and Sept. 8 to Dec. 19. … It will host the Big 12 men’s tournament April 22-25.