City Hall Shoehorns the Byron Nelson Venue Change Into Its Grow South Gentrification Plan

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The AT&T Byron Nelson PGA TOUR golf tournament would have found its way to South Dallas' newly opened Trinity Forest Golf Club whether or not Mayor Mike Rawlings and the Dallas City Council got involved. But they brought their Grow South banners on Wednesday anyway, setting them up on the 10th tee box for a press conference announcing the tournament's 2018 relocation.

This is a year earlier than the event has to move, as the tournament is currently contracted with Las Colinas' Four Seasons Resort and Club through 2018. 

It's clear: Golf is the latest harbinger of the gentrification gaining steam on its southbound course through Dallas. Needless to say, Rawlings is pleased. "Today is a day of celebration. I can hardly wipe the grin off my face, I'm so happy," he said. "This is a great opportunity on many many levels. You always look for win-wins, OK? This is a win-win-win-win-win-win."

Here are Rawlings' list of big winners: Golf in Texas. Dallas tourism. Restaurants and hotels. Dallas golfers, even those who can't shell out an astronomical membership fee, somehow win. (We'll explain that one soon.) Children and The First Tee organization win.

But Rawlings' sixth winner is his favorite. "For me, it's a very special day to have a PGA tournament move to southern Dallas, because it's a great day for Grow South and our whole focus to make sure that we grow as a city in Southern Dallas," Rawling said. "Who would have believed that we could move a world class championship to southern Dallas? And we made it happen."

Nowhere on the Grow Dallas list of highlighted projects, nor anywhere in its vaunted 10-point plan does it say anything about bringing championship-level golf to South Dallas. Never mind that. It's big, monied and located in South Dallas, so bring the Grow South banners to the press conference. 

But this attempt to couch this new development within the Grow South accordion folder is interesting for another reason. Dallas Observer columnist Jim Schutze has written at length about Rawlings' and the City's efforts to pressure the owners of HMK, Ltd., the landlords of a few hundred tenants paying $300-$450 a month for rent homes across West Dallas and South Oak Cliff, to let loose of those holdings "at the worthless price." They want the Khraish family (the property owners) out of the picture so Grow South condominiums and other developments can swoop in and sweep the area clean of "eyesore" homes that lack "curb appeal" at a cheaper price.

Though there's no equivalent legal drama on the Trinity Forest end of the scene, a larger picture is rapidly coalescing. A two-pronged pincer maneuver of rolling gentrification is underway in both southwest and southeast Dallas, and it looks like it could eventually squeeze poor minorities out of South Dallas altogether. 

But not to worry, South Dallas golf fanatics. Rawlings assured the crowd gathered at the presser that Trinity Forest Golf Club won't just provide Old World links-style golf for its wealthy members, among whom belongs eight-time PGA TOUR winner and Most Valuable Dallasite Jordan Spieth, also a speaker during the announcement.

Rawlings said that up to 25 percent of the rounds played at the course will be played by non-member Dallas residents, due to the large number of public tournaments and other golf events that will be held at Trinity Forest in the future.  We're not holding our collective breath on that one. Wasn't Dallas National, built in 2002, supposed to have a similar directive to be an inclusive place for locals to play? With the exclusive course remaining an invitation-only pipe dream for non-members, such promises sound familiar — and hollow. 

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