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Renovations Complete at Historic Stevens Park GC in Dallas


Colligan Golf Design has finished up an extensive multi-million-dollar million renovation of Stevens Park Golf Course in Dallas. The municipal facility is one of only two layouts ever designed by Jackie Burke, Sr.; the other - Tenison Park - also in Dallas, underwent a similar remodel 10 years ago.

Burke, who was born in 1890 in Philadelphia and settled in Houston in the late-1920s, is a member of the Texas Golf Hall of Fame. He was also one of the early club pros at Aronomink, and finished second to Ted Ray in the 1920 U.S. Open at Inverness.

His namesake, Jackie Burke Jr., grew the family legacy even more. Jackie Jr. is also a member of the Lone Star State's Golf Hall of Fame and, as a fine player on the PGA Tour - winning four straight tournaments in 1952, second only to Byron Nelson's amazing 11 straight victories - became a member of the PGA Hall of Fame in 1976. Jackie Jr. won both the Masters and PGA Championship in 1956.

Dallas native John Colligan and his associate, Trey Kemp, were given the challenge of placing the Burke Sr. classic back into the limelight. Their task at Stevens Park was pretty daunting: somehow modernize a popular but rundown course built in 1924.

"Quirky" is the term John Colligan uses to describe Burke's routing. There were several "snap" dogleg holes and many others where technology had removed driver from the hands of average players. Over time, the 110-acre course off Montclair Avenue had also been segmented by streets, creeks, trees and underground utilities.

Kemp reconfigured the 5,700-yard course into a track that now measures 6,300 yards from the tips. He utilized existing bluffs, creeks, trees and vistas that had been either ignored, hidden or didn't exist in the original routing.

One key was to convert the short par-4 eighth into a par-3 to allow the ninth tee to be expanded into a 602-yard, par-5. Kemp and Colligan also reversed Nos. 13 through 17. The par-4 15th now features a 40-foot-high tee that offers one of the best views of the "Big D."

Revitalized Stevens Park plays to a par of 70 with a rating of 70.3 and a Slope of 127. "I feel this will be the most enjoyable short course around," promises Colligan.

Other upgrades include a new irrigation system fed by a 400,000-gallon water tank that eliminated the need for a holding pond and which stores the effluent water used to irrigate the course. The new system also allowed the introduction of new playing surfaces: fairways and tees are Premier bermudagrass while the rough is Tifton 10 bermudagrass.

"These two (grasses) provide great playability and superb texture and color contrast," said Kemp. The greens are now Miniverde bermudagrass. Also woven into the design were 38 bunkers.

During Kemp's research he found a 1930 aerial photo of the course that depicted a variety of green shapes. The putting surfaces were square, rectangular, diamond, triangular and round. These same shapes were re-introduced by the designers during the remodel.

Because the city of Dallas wanted Stevens Park to be a "garden golf course" and it is the centerpiece of the historic Kessler Park community in Oak Cliff, over 800 trees were planted. The species include magnolia, Arizona cypress, live oaks, red cedar, red oak, pond cypress, chinquapin oak, holly, pittosporum, nandina and over 2,000 roses.

"It was a perfect storm, with the city of Dallas, Pegasus Management, Dan Farrier, Wadsworth Golf Course Construction and golf course superintendent Frank Hutcheson," Colligan said of the project. "Everyone worked as a team toward a common goal."

Since the course reopened in mid-October, the tee sheet has been full, averaging 210 to 220 golfers a day. "It's been just crazy," head pro Jim Henderson told reporter Roy Appleton of the Dallas Morning News. "It's the most surreal experience I've ever gone through. We've had two people just answering the phone. I had to bring my wife down and give her a crash course in booking tee times.

"A lot of people who grew up in the area are coming back to play," added Henderson. "And people are stopping and taking photographs. We're changing the face of golf for the city of Dallas,"

For more information, visit http://www.stevensparkgolf.com.