The final verdict? Trinity Forest was a success.
The Coore & Crenshaw course in south Dallas made its much-heralded PGA Tour debut for last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson and players and spectators were promised a distinctly different experience. The treeless, roughless pseudo-links setup garnered skeptical locker-room whispers as well as some optimism from players who knew the place including Jordan Spieth, Hunter Mahan and Geoff Ogilvy.
"Bill Coore and I were nervous because we deliberately set out to do something different here," Crenshaw said on the CBS broadcast.
Coming out of the weekend, Aaron Wise and Trinity Forest were both deemed winners, each a Tour rookie with a long, bright future in the game. For his part, Wise enjoyed thinking his way around the course. "It’s tricky," he said after his round Friday. "But it’s a ton of fun and I like that."
But what did non-winners think? "I really enjoyed it," said Keith Mitchell, who finished T3. "There's a lot of different types or different styles of players that are at the top of the leaderboard. That shows a lot about the golf course. It doesn't favor any one person. I think it's a great test. It's a great strategy for us."
Mitchell was among those who mounted a charge up the leaderboard on Sunday, when low wind and wet conditions rendered the course extremely scorable. His 63 wasn’t even the best round of the day — that belonged to Branden Grace, who shot 62 to also finish T3. "It was a breath of fresh air playing something different this week instead of the week-in, week-out," Grace said, adding that he expects the venue to only get better over time. As for the low scores? "Obviously I think we’ve got really lucky with the weather and that’s why the scores were so low. It can bite you if it settles in a little bit in the next couple years."
As for the local favorite?
"Springtime in Texas this is very rare, to have three days with no wind," Jordan Spieth said after his Sunday round, adding that he thinks higher winds would have added a layer of uncertainty and limits players’ ability to fire at pins. "I think these will be record scores for a number of years here and it will be somewhere around 12- to 16-under if we get typical Texas spring in the future."
There was sure to be dissent, of course, mostly off-the-record. Billy Horschel cited hearing "horror stories" in the lead-up to the event, and Matt Kuchar was clearly displeased with the setup on Thursday and Friday. "I probably let my dislike of the golf course affect my performance," he admitted. Kuchar went on to miss his first cut in 31 starts.
But Spieth insisted that the week was a win for Trinity Forest. "A lot of guys said, ‘It's grown on me day to day, I really enjoyed it as a change of pace, I had a lot of fun playing this golf course,'" Spieth said. "Those were lines guys were using this week and it shouldn't be reported any differently. It was an overwhelmingly positive outlook from the players that played."