WESTLAKE, TX - In the men's locker room at Vaquero, one gets an idea of the exclusive band of golfers who now call this community, complete with Tom Fazio-designed layout, home.
Metallic name plates hang over the lockers - PGA Tour players Brant Jobe and Brian Watts, Japan Tour player Todd Hamilton and just for honors sake - Byron Nelson.
Only minutes away from Nelson's storied Fairway Ranch, Vaquero's land was once owned by silver baron Bunker Hunt, an infamous Metroplex businessman who allegedly cornered and virtually destroyed the silver market in the 1970s. If you were invested in silver back then, you remember this guy and his brother.
Vaquero's rolling hills are abundant with sturdy stands of post oak and cedar and now newly planted pistachio trees that will turn shades of red in the fall. Look left off the No. 2 tee and you will see the working ranch of a Louisiana-turned-Texas cowboy - former Super Bowl Champ and Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback Terry Bradshaw.
In this cowboy-cattle country, the name "Vaquero" was a natural - it means cowboy in Spanish.
It's part of an exclusive gated community that was designed with second-to-none service. Discovery Land Company, the developer, has an impressive list of country clubs that includes Estancia in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Iron Horse in Whitefish, Montana.
"We have set service as the priority," said Greg Morris, assistant pro. "Each member will have a profile - from shirt size to food preferences - and when a member drives through the gate, we will know who the person is. He will be greeted, helped by valet parking, and if he wants us to take care of his dry cleaning or wash his car while he is playing golf, we will take care of it."
When the club member reaches the practice tee, he will find Titleist Pro V1s and he will have a choice of uniformed caddies or golf cart.
As the golfers approach the No. 9 green at Vaquero, they are greeted with a howdy and a damp towel to clean their hands or cool off with before a rare country club treat. Just off the side of the No. 10 tee, a gourmet chef has prepared lunch. One day it might be a brat and beer, another day a quesadilla of smoked duck, or even grilled jalapeño sausages with caramelized onions.
Don't let the comfort stations spoil your lunch. They are stocked with food, drink, ice cream, peanut butter and crackers, and are located on the front and back nine.
It gets even better - no cell phones are allowed on the course.
All this can be yours. Just invest in a lot, which ranges toward a cool million. There's also a hefty five-figure initiation fee and after the permanent clubhouse is built, the monthly dues will be from $500 to $600.
Fazio's design builds in intensity as the fairways narrow, the stately post oaks get closer and the coastal bermuda rough, two feet high in some spots, make recoveries impossible. At one high point on the course you can see the Dallas skyline in the distance on a day without haze.
On No. 6, a 476-yard par 4 from the back, a massive bunker-waste area covers 5 acres. No. 16, at 586 yards, features a huge mass of sand guarding the green from its left to right border. But it's the rough that will make your score soar. The course is 7,064 yards from the back at par 71.
The bent grass greens are excellent and more subtle than Fazio's greens at the Westin Stonebriar Resort, his first North Texas design.
"When tour players Greg Chalmers and Tommy Armour III came out, they were very impressed with our greens," Morris said. "They said they were the best they had putted on all year. The greens roll about nine or 10 on the Stimp meter."
Take advantage of the first five holes - they are the easiest. After that, just hang on and keep your drives in the fairway if you hope to score.
2300 Vaquero Club Drive
Westlake, TX 76262
Telephone:817-430-6600 or 817-746-4653.
Green Fees: Sorry folks, Vaquero is a private club. Buy a lot, a membership or make friends with one of its affluent members if you want a chance to play it.
The area around Vaquero, just northwest of D-FW Airport, is a major golf corridor.
Early beginnings of this golf corridor included standout private layouts such as The Trophy Club near Roanoke, designed in 1976 by Ben Hogan and Joe Lee. In 1984 they added a second course designed by Arthur Hills. Stonebridge Country Club, designed in 1988 by Pete Dye, is in McKinney. West Ridge is another new course in McKinney.
Southlake's Timarron Country Club operated for more than a decade as a daily-fee course before becoming a country club in late 1999.
Grapevine now has Cowboys Golf Club (at right), designed by Jeff Brauer, and The Grapevine Municipal Golf Course, designed by Byron Nelson and Joe Finger in 1979. This muny has reportedly hosting as many as 80,000 rounds in one year. Opryland Golf Club is being planned and a resort hotel will open next year minutes away from Cowboys Golf Club.
Other new courses to the corridor include Heritage Ranch, The Creeks at Beechwood and The Trails of Frisco Golf Club. Highly-ranked Stonebriar Country Club is right next door to the new Westin Stonebriar Resort Fazio Course in Frisco.
You will also find The Tribute at The Colony, a layout with British and Scottish replica holes, and Tour 18 Dallas, located in Flower Mound, replicating famous American golf holes including Amen Corner of Augusta National. Also in Flower Mound is Bridlewood Golf Club.
Vaquero is the first of two new Fazio private courses in The Metroplex. His Dallas National in Oak Cliff is another recent design.
Par 3's: 3.8
Par 4's: 3.8
Par 5's: 3.8
Practice Facilities: 4.5
Club House/Pro Shop: Temp
Pace of Play: 4.5
Overall Rating: 3.9
August 24, 2002