Ground Breaks on The Villages at Lone Oak

By: Mark Leslie

It's appropriate that the new Jeffrey D. Brauer-designed golf course that will soon begin construction at a famous historical site in Tawakoni, Texas, will be an "early-American golf course," built along the lines of the classic "country clubs" of the early 1900s.

At The Villages at Lone Oak, a new 1,000-lot lakeside planned community, Brauer will turn the clock back to the Golden Age of Golf Design when C.B. Macdonald, the “Father of American Golf Course Design,” roamed the United States creating tabletop greens, deep bunkers with steep-banked walls – and remarkable golf courses. The Lone Oak course will be an interesting historical complement to Rocky Ford, a famous spot on the property where wagon trains forded the Sabine River on their way West.

"This will be a unique golf course, unlike anything else in the Metroplex," said the Arlington, Texas-based Brauer, whose The Quarry at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, Minn., was named by Golf Digest as the Best New Upscale Public Course in America in 2004. "I expect golfers will believe that we restored an existing, old course rather than built a new one from scratch. Also, with minimal irrigation, we will keep the course on the edge of dryness so it will run hard and fast."

The Villages at Lone Oak is being developed by The Lone Oak Land Development Co., a division of Colorado Mountain Development of Englewood, Colo., which has a 40-year record of success building second-home resort-style communities, including the new acclaimed Wildwood Shores on Lake Conroe, just north of Houston.

The roughly 1,000-acre property, which sits along the shores of 37,000-acre Lake Tawakoni and borders more than 1,300 acres of Texas Parks and Wildlife land, was once owned by Paul Mathews of Greenville, who was the 1997 Land Steward of the Year for Texas and who sold the land with the stipulation that utmost care be taken in areas of preservation.

Jasen Miller of Lone Oak Land Development said his company is living up to that mandate, setting aside large tracts as green areas in addition to Brauer's golf course. And the 1,500 palomino vines used for wine every year will, this year, soon produce wine for the new property owners that join the community.

"Given the size of Dallas and the rapid pace in which it is moving our way, we are using a refined marketing process that has proven to produce good neighbors that are looking for an escape to our serene environment. There are only roughly 1,000 lots and no more, so we must be very selective as we move forward," Miller said.

Construction is under way, roads have been built, lots subdivided, and electricity, water and sewer have already been delivered to many of the lots. "However, in our attempts to keep up with demand, we are now primarily selling pre-developed lots that are scheduled to have utilities delivered within the next three to six months," Miller said.

He has high expectations. "Unlike many of the lakes around the Metroplex, Lake Tawakoni has not yet been overdeveloped and many of our new property owners believe that now is the time to get involved with the community," he said. "Recent growth has been in the direction of Tawakoni and Hunt County, in which it lies."

The fact that Tawakoni only fluctuates in water level moderately each year, coupled with the fact that neighboring Rockwall County is consistently ranked amongst the fastest-growing counties in the nation, has made it difficult to keep up with demand at times, Miller added.

"We have water on two sides of the property and the Preserve on the other side," Miller said. "That is a natural site for horseback riding, fishing, hunting, hiking . . . Lake Tawakoni sports trophy striper and catfish."

He said Lone Oak plans to get three of the golf holes playable for the residents as quickly as possible. Once that is done, their objective will be to complete nine holes this year and have them ready for play in spring 2006. Construction will then begin on the second nine.

The 200 acres set apart for the golf course has frontage both on Lake Tawakoni and an old rock quarry. The front nine, said Brauer, "is mostly pasture with scattered oaks – almost perfect for golf. We will leave the pasture as a rugged outer rough. The oaks provide definition but also allow recovery shots."

Some holes on the back nine will be heavily wooded, while one green will front directly on the lake. Like Brauer said: a "country club."

Miller said Lone Oak has been hosting between 60 and 100 couples every weekend since it opened the sales office on the property. The sales office is located at 3797 Country Road 3405 in Lone Oak.

Since 1984 Jeffrey D. Brauer and his firm, GolfScapes, have designed more than 48 golf courses, while renovating nearly 100. Several of his courses have merited national recognition, in Golf Digest’s Best New Course Competition and other magazines. In 2004, The Quarry at Giants Ridge was the winner in the Upscale Public category, and his total renovation and rerouting of Indian Creek's Creeks Course in Carrollton, Texas, placed 7th among Affordable Public Courses. Meanwhile, his The Wilderness at Fortune Bay was listed this month among the 10 Best New Places You Can Play by GOLF Magazine.

Several other Brauer courses were rated among the Best New Courses of the Year, including: The Legacy Golf Club in Norwalk, Iowa, in 2003; The Legends at Giants Ridge in 1998; Canterberry Golf Course in Parker, Colo., in 1997; and Avocet Course at Wild Wing Plantation in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in 1994.

For more about Brauer’s golf-design philosophy, click on Architect’s Corner or Brauer’s Book in Cybergolf’s left-hand toolbar.