The Professional Golfers’ Association of America Tour, the Salesmanship Club and the Dallas-based ClubCorp had been looking at moving the tournament to Collin County since February, Chair of the Salesmanship Club Mike McKinley said. This marks the first time the tournament will be played outside of Dallas County, officials said.
The agreement between the Salesmanship Club, the Dallas-based ClubCorp and the PGA Tour outlines that the tournament will be played in McKinney from 2021 to 2026. It is expected the tournament will continue to be held in May.
“TPC Craig Ranch will provide the perfect footprint for delivering the optimal spectator experience and allow us to maximize the Salesmanship Club’s mission with the Momentous Institute,” said Jon Drago, the director of the AT&T Byron Nelson tournament, in the April 15 news release. “We think the location will be a huge hit. This move will provide a remarkable opportunity to showcase our North Texas region and the dynamic growth that defines it.”
The Salesmanship Club notified its members of the agreement on Tuesday and the news of the venue change was received with excitement, McKinley said. The defending champion, Sung Kang, even practices at TPC Craig Ranch, the news release said.
McKinley credited TPC Craig Ranch, ClubCorp, the city of McKinney and the Collin County business community with their eagerness to build a partnership with the tournament, which helped make the McKinney venue a front runner.
“We were absolutely overwhelmed at the generosity and the enthusiasm from everybody,” McKinley said. “The support and the enthusiasm that we've received from McKinney is just unbelievable.”
TPC Craig Ranch is a private golf club designed by professional golfer Tom Wesikopf. It is located within the Craig Ranch community off of Collin McKinney Parkway in McKinney.
“TPC Craig Ranch is known for providing a world-class golf experience and has been the home of the US Open Qualifier and Korn Ferry Tour for the past two years,” ClubCorp CEO David Pillsbury said in the release. “We are thankful to our members and the entire McKinney community for their support in bringing the Byron Nelson to TPC Craig Ranch.”
McKinley said there might be a few tweaks needed at TPC Craig Ranch to accommodate the tournament, but said the golf course was actually designed with the hope of attracting the Byron Nelson tournament.
In addition to providing entertainment, the ultimate goal of the AT&T Byron Nelson is to support the Momentous Institute, McKinley said. The tournament has raised $163 million over the past 52 years for the Momentous Institute, which exists to provide social and emotional health support and partners with more than 5,500 children and family members, according to an April 15 news release.
The institute’s data is available to educators and school districts interested in the information, but McKinney ISD Superintendent Rick McDaniel made a point of expressing his enthusiasm and support for a stronger connection with the Momentous Institute, McKinley said.
“The MISD superintendent was quick to say how much he looks forward to making a stronger connection to Momentous and bringing some of those programs into the McKinney area,” McKinley said. “Nobody else that we were talking to made that connection. So we really felt like it was such a great fit because they not only wanted the tournament, they absolutely want a connection to the Momentous Institute.”
This partnership was something McKinney Mayor George Fuller touched on as well.
“In addition to being a world-class event, the Byron Nelson tournament epitomizes the compassionate and philanthropic spirit that defines our community and we look forward to our exciting future together,” he said in the April 15 news release.
The tournament will bring to the city an economic boost as it attracts visitors and business opportunities alike, McKinley said.
“When we were in Irving, we were told by the Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Irving chamber that having the Nelson in the city was worth about $40 million to the local economy, and that was probably 10 years ago,” McKinley said. “It just brings a lot of energy and business and opportunities to a community, and that's exciting.”
There are advantages, too, with having the tournament so close to the future PGA headquarters site in Frisco, he said.
“North Texas is about to become the epicenter of golf in the country,” McKinley said. “We’re big believers that a high tide lifts all boats. ... [The PGA] complex will have two golf courses, an Omni Resort, and it's going to be maybe seven or eight miles away from Craig Ranch. So yes, it'll create more energy, more excitement, and it'll be very special.”
The tournament had previously been played at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas. This year’s tournament had been scheduled in this location but was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. McKinley said he is looking forward to bringing the tournament back with the new location.
“The Nelson historically has been a rite of spring in North Texas,” he said. “A lot of people always looked at the Nelson as being the first big party of the year. So we're bringing the party to McKinney. And we just can't wait to get started.”