This year’s 109th Texas
Amateur Championship promises to be something extra special. The reason is
simple. It takes two words to explain: Whispering Pines.
From June 14-17, the top amateurs
in Texas will tackle the state’s best golf course over 72 holes of stroke play
to determine our oldest and most important championship. The winner etches a
spot in Texas golf lore and gets his name on the H.L. Edwards Memorial Trophy
alongside the likes of Charles Coody, Ben Crenshaw, Mark Brooks and Scott
We do this every year, of
course, and the Texas Amateur always travels to the best courses in the state.
This year, however, the 109th Texas Amateur will be played at the best course, according to the
highest authorities. For the 11th time in the past 13 years, Whispering Pines
was voted the No. 1 course in Texas by the Dallas
Morning News Top 100 Courses poll.
The experts who select the state’s
best courses agree on Whispering Pines. The same can be said for those who
attempt to play in the Texas Amateur. This year we received a record number of
entries from elite competitive golfers interested in trying to qualify. The 875
entries surpassed the 851 we received in 2014 for the 105th Texas Amateur at
Brook Hollow Golf Club (No. 8 in this year’s DMN Top 100).
For the 101 players who
advanced out of qualifying – and 43 who were otherwise exempt – the third week
of June will offer the longest of lasting memories. The opportunity to win the
biggest amateur tournament in Texas on its most supreme venue doesn’t come
Not only is Whispering Pines breathtaking in its splendor, it also can be quite punitive when shots go astray. The 7,400-yard routing includes a balanced mix of long and short par 4s, gettable par 5s and confounding par 3s.
The last time Whispering
Pines hosted the championship was 2007, when Charlie Holland, son of then-TGA
President Malcolm Holland, scored a three-shot victory over a slew of chasers,
including future PGA Tour winner Andrew Landry. Charlie and his dad created a
lifetime memory when they shared an embrace that Sunday afternoon on the 18th
green after a two-putt par secured the championship.
No one knows what kind of drama
will emerge this time around. We just know great things will happen. The Texas Amateur is that kind of event, and
Whispering Pines is that type of setting.
The best golfers in the world
talk often about slowing down amid the heat of intense competition. Whispering
Pines and this championship also mandate that approach. In fact, from the
moment you enter the grounds – past the guard gate off FM Road 3188 just
outside of Trinity – you’re forced to pump the breaks.
Those who have experienced the
drive in firsthand understand the winding four-minute crawl from the gate to
the clubhouse is intentional. You’ve come this far, but you’re not there yet.
Whispering Pines owner Corby Robertson wants guests and members alike to feel
the anticipation build of what awaits up ahead. It’s deliberate, and it works.
For the first minute or so,
all you see are trees. Sky-scraping pines cast down shadows to dance on your
vehicle’s front hood. And then, finally, there’s something else. Remember when
you were a kid and you “accidentally” saw a couple of your Christmas presents
before they were wrapped? Yeah, it’s kind of like that.
There’s the second fairway!
That’s the eighth green! As you ease down the road, slivers of the treasured
golf course start to flash between hardwoods.
“It’s going to be a special
day,” the entrance drive seems to whisper. “Slow down. Try to stay present in
the moment. You’re going to want to remember this experience.”
That’s good advice for more
than one reason. Not only is Whispering Pines breathtaking in its splendor, it
also can be quite punitive when shots go astray. The 7,400-yard routing includes
a balanced mix of long and short par 4s, gettable par 5s and confounding par
3s. Compressed by the piney woods margins, Whispering Pines features several
water hazards (beware the alligators!), deep bunkers, devious green complexes
and slick, undulating putting surfaces.
Patience and planning are imperative,
as the golf course gives and takes early before it crescendos with the most
intoxicating six-hole finishing stretch you’ll find in this part of the
All the while, a place in
Texas golf history hangs in the balance. Tour pro Will Zalatoris knows all about
it. He won the 105th Texas Amateur, and he was a double gold medal winner for
the U.S. at Whispering Pines in the 2015 Spirit International. Zalatoris said
winning the Texas Amateur can be a game-changer.
“The Texas Amateur was the
first big amateur event I won. It taught me how to win,” said Zalatoris, who
enjoyed a four-year, All-American career at Wake Forest before he recently
turned pro. “In my case in particular, I went from having a five-shot lead on
the final day to being tied with eight holes to play. I was making pars and
Stratton Nolen was going off. That experience in the Texas Amateur taught me
how to dig deep.”
The honor of being crowned
champion and the spoils it brings motivated Zalatoris. He thinks competitors in
the 109th Texas Amateur at Whispering Pines will feel the same.
“When you get to put your
name on a trophy that is so storied, that’s the biggest goal,” Zalatoris said. “That
was something I wanted to do throughout my amateur career. I wanted to put my
name on as many trophies that the legends are on. That’s certainly the case
with the Texas Amateur.”
For more information on the
109th Texas Amateur, click here. To learn where your favorite courses ranked on the 2018 DMN Top 100 click here