Cole Brantley has been swinging a golf club since the days he mistook them as swords,
baseball bats, or fly swatters. Toiling behind his big brother, he was often a little dude on a big
course, eventually graduating from pee wee player to high school golfer to a sometimes slicer on public courses around DFW.
“I was okay, not great, not horrible,” is the description he robotically dishes out to anyone
reasonably curious about his competitive golfing days. Still, imagine my surprise when Brantley was astonished about a professional golf tournament in his backyard.
“Really?” he said to me. “In Arlington?”
Really. In Arlington.
“I know, I know,” said Clay Kelley when I brought up this little scenario during a phone
conversation the other day. Kelley is on the advisory committee for the Korn Ferry Veritex Bank Championship played at the Texas Rangers Golf Club.
Few are more invested in seeing golf come alive in Arlington than this guy. For the Veritex Open, he’s hosted players in his own home, so they don’t have to shell out hundreds on lodging, food, and apprehension.
“We’d rather see them concentrate on playing well than worrying about how they will afford to come here and get to the PGA tour,” Kelley said. Oh, the PGA Tour.
The Korn Ferry Veritex Bank Championship, set for April 10-16, is part of a developmental tour featuring golfers who have yet to reach the PGA Tour or failed to win enough FedEx Cup points to stay at that level. Moving on means finishing among the top 25 spots and getting a shot at glory, a career, a victory stroll on ESPN.
Last year’s winner, Tyson Alexander, has since earned over a million dollars in prize
Money. No, it’s not the Colonial of Fort Worth or the Byron Nelson of Dallas, but, as Kelley put
it, “It’s yet another gem in the crown jewel” that is Arlington’s reputation as a sports and
entertainment hub of North Texas.
The Texas Rangers Golf Club course is an exquisite sliver of bliss with a newly built
33,871-square-foot clubhouse featuring a full-service restaurant and bar, a covered patio
overlooking the greens, a pro shop, locker rooms, and numerous rental and event spaces.
Fairways are nice and broad, the greens large. It has 111,000 square feet of sand bunkers
framing each hole. It’s the real deal.
“This is a unique event,” Kelley said, “but because of Colonial and the Bryon Nelson, it
does not get great attention. It would be great if we could keep this tournament in Arlington for
years to come. To do that, we need to draw more people to the tournament.”
Kelley, Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Jacobson, former mayor
Jeff Williams, current Mayor Jim Ross, and other Arlington powers-that-be are all hyped about
the possibility of golf being another impact player in the city. Could be, should be, particularly if
this becomes a well-known pipeline to PGA Majors.
Public enthusiasm would result in an economic engine for the city, reaching beyond the
confines of the course. I agree with Kelley: if folks come out, it would be yet another log on the
fire that is Arlington’s sports and entertainment reputation. As these things tend to do, it would
help drive tourism, positively affect real estate values, and generate significant tax revenue. The list goes on.
Arlington would love to see Texas Rangers Golf Club become a destination course for
professional golfers and even slicers like Brantley. When the tournament begins this month, he plans to be there. So will dozens of PGA Tour wannabes.
To Kelley, it will be nice to have these professional golfers back in the city, with one exception: “We don’t want to see these guys back,” he said.
I suspect they want to move on, too.