I’ve loved living in Dallas the last five years, and one of the many perks of living in warmer climates is our (mostly) year-round golf weather. While friends and family up north are shoveling their driveways this time of year, I can be on the golf course with only an extra layer of outerwear. If sub-70 degree temps do not deter you, I’d high-tail it over to Plano’s Pecan Hollow Golf Course to experience its incredible conditions that delight in the off-season. Pecan Hollow isn’t a newcomer to the DFW golf community (it opened in 1973), but I made my first visit only this summer. There are so many things to enjoy about this course, which is why I love it. Between the fun layout, the sharply edged bunkers, the gorgeous MiniVerde greens and a fantastic practice area, Pecan Hollow is overflowing with amenities.
The course is the star, originally designed by Don January and then revamped in 2011 by the Weibring-Wolfhard group, it’s great for players of all skill levels. The first hole serves as a nice warm-up to your round; the par 4 plays 413 yards from the championship tees to a straightaway layout, and sets you up for a confident start without much distraction right off the bat. The second hole is a bit tougher. This 423-yard par 4 plays ever so slightly as a dogleg to the right. A line of trees strung along the right side of the hole can hinder you off the tee, as the green is situated down behind to the right. The tee boxes line you up in that direction, but staying closer to the left edge of the fairway gives you a much better angle of attack. While there is one bunker hugging the lower left side of the green, it’s not difficult to keep the damage off your scorecard.
No. 3 is one of my favorite holes on the front nine. This 569-yard par 5 is lengthy and requires a precision approach shot to avoid the multiple bunkers and small pond behind the green. This hole was a lot of fun because it plays very straight, there aren’t any hidden surprises and it all came down to execution. There are four bunkers strategically sprinkled within 75 yards of the green: one hangs back where the fairway meets the rough on the right side, another sits perfectly center about 40 yards from the fringe, and two sandwich the long, narrow green. The green, a slick plateau with sharp angles outside of the fringe, will send errant shots rolling every which way. If your short game is less than stellar, you could spend some time in one of the bunkers or see a splash; the pond buffers the backside of the green. It’s not diabolical (this hole is ranked as the No. 7 handicap hole on the course) but it provides a fun and challenging element.
By this point in your round, you’ve probably noticed the quality of Pecan Hollow’s MiniVerde greens. Even when we played in December, it was obvious as to the meticulous care given to them throughout the year, including the off-season. You’ve also probably noticed the black tarps rolled up somewhere in the vicinity of each green; it appears that when you’re tucking your kids into bed at night, Pecan Hollow does the same, and we couldn’t be more impressed.
The first par 3 of the round pops up at the fifth hole and gives you a chance to score well before facing the toughest hole on the course. No. 6 is a behemoth par 4 (487 yards from the championship tees) that is deceptively hard. While the hole plays straightforward, and doesn’t contain any hidden trap doors or hazards, there is a ravine that slithers along the left side of the hole without much of a cushion from the rough. Take a hard bounce toward the left side and there’s a chance you won’t see your ball again.
Hole No. 7 is another favorite on the front nine. This par 4, measuring 403 from the tips, plays as a soft dogleg to the left. A large pond sits in front of the back tees and parallel to the forward tees to tease more visually than in actuality. The undulation of the fairway is perhaps one of the more billowing examples on the course; a hard ridge ripples diagonally through the fairway to create the sense of tiers, and the green is slightly elevated. After stopping at the par-3 eighth, hole No. 9 awaits as a difficult closer to this side. This 561-yard par 5, the no. 3 handicap hole, is quick to punish those who try and go for it but fall short. There is a handful of bunkers peppered around the green waiting to swallow short shots. The green is a touch elevated, and with any whisper of wind, you’re going to need a substantial amount of power to get it there.
No. 10 is fun start to the back: this short par 4 is tucked into a thicket with trees on all sides. Measuring 362 from the championship tees, this hole invites you to use driver for a lightning start to the back. There isn’t a ton of room on either side of the fairway, but the bunker-less green means more reward than risk.
Another par 3 waits at No. 11 before a pair of par 4s at Nos. 12 and 13. This stretch of holes on the back nine provide a nice buffer on your scorecard before things ramp up on Nos. 15-18.
No. 15 kicks off the closing stretch with an uphill par 4. Measuring 395 from the championship tees, this hole isn’t absurdly long but the dramatic elevation requires smart club selection to get it there in regulation.
The par-4 16th is another monstrously long par 4 (472 yards from the tips) and mirrors No. 6 from the front. It plays extremely straight, but an OB fence line clings to the right side of the fairway. There is plenty of room width-wise in the fairway, but for hitters that constantly find themselves going way right off the tee, this hole could be an issue. There is only one bunker guarding the front of the green, so length is key on this one.
Awaiting you at No. 18, a 447-yard par 4, that doesn’t let you cruise to the finish line. The back tees tee off through a dense section of trees. It eventually opens up into a wider fairway, but the limbs can be daunting from a visual standpoint. The creek and ravine come back into play along the right, but there is a bail out pocket of fairway on the right side as well. If players can hang closer to the left side of the hole and utilize longer clubs in their bag, there are plenty of ways to end on a strong note.
If the slick greens injected some doubt in your short game ability, Pecan Hollow has a five-hole short course that ranges in length from 33 to 62 yards per hole. It’s great area to work on your wedges or get the kids on the course, too. If you need work throughout your bag, the driving range is lighted until 9:30 PM in the summer time. We may be entering our coolest months of the year, but I’m certainly not going to let the warmer days go to waste. Take advantage of this Metroplex gem during the off-season and you’ll be the one to be beat when spring rolls around.
Pecan Hollow Golf Course
Address: 4901 East 14th Street
Plano, TX 75074
Phone: (972) 941-7600
Designer: Don January; renovated by D.A. Weibring and Steve Wolfard in 2011
Year Opened: 1973
Par/Yardage: 71/ 7026 (Championship tees); 6567 (Tournament); 6012 (Players); 5265 (Men/Ladies’ Tournament); 4748 (Forward)
Rates: Tues – Fri $41; Sat – Sun $56 (Course closed on Monday; rates are for prime hours and include cart)
Toughest Hole: No. 6, a 487-yard par 4. True to its No. 1 handicap ranking, this hole is tough. The sheer length tempts you into trying to crush your drive, inviting errors left and right. Unfortunately if you go left, there’s not much rough to A) soften the bounce or B) trap your ball. Winter months mean hard ground, so my ball that was headed ever so slightly left, took one hop and ended up in the ravine.
Favorite Hole: Hole No. 10, a 362-yard par 4. Aside from being one of the more visually intriguing holes on the course, No. 10 is a lot of fun. It’s in a pocket of trees and it’s short enough from the mid-forward tees to harken a driver off the tee in search of a birdie (or better!). It is one of the few holes without a bunker, so if you can keep it from spraying in one direction, this hole has potential for a great start to the back nine.
Most Intriguing Hole: No. 18, a 447-yard par 4. This finishing hole isn’t easy but it’s not too terribly difficult either. One of the more intriguing parts is the shape of the hole as well as the tree placement. On the map, the hole plays just a touch from left to right, but once you’re actually in the fairway, the dense tree line on the right make it feel so much more curved. The ravine from previous holes reappears on the right side, and while there is a decent section of fairway over there, the trees loom over your approach shot. Stay left here and you’re in for a painless finish.