FORT WORTH, Texas -- At the new Whiskey Ranch , you can follow in the footsteps of Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Sandra Palmer, and afterwards, unwind with a bourbon whiskey straight from the source less than 150 yards from the first tee.
This all comes because F&R Distilling Co., manufacturers of the fastest growing whiskey brand in the world, needed a place to expand its operation. Fortunately for those who appreciate golf history, the founders and owners of TX Whiskey love the game about as much as they do making fine bourbon and blended whiskey. So three years ago, when they discovered the closed Glen Garden Country Club was for sale, where Nelson, Hogan and Palmer used to play back in the 1930s, they thought of the possibilities.
"When we learned about the history, we knew we had to put our new facility here," said Troy Robertson, who along with Leonard Firestone founded Firestone and Robertston Distilling, which makes TX Whiskey, in 2010. "And as golfers we loved the pastoral look of the place, and it suited what our vision was and this distillery."
Old Glen Garden is a perfect match
The new distillery at Whiskey Ranch
The new distillery, which is expected to go online within a month, has more than 10 times the capacity of the original F&R distillery located in a revitalized pre-prohibition warehouse just south of downtown Fort Worth. That distillery will remain for continued production as well as tours, but the 112-acre Whiskey Ranch will be able to offer so much more, not the least of which is golf.
The good news is that despite assumptions in 2014 that the golf course would be closed for good, F&R has chosen to take advantage of having it. As it turns out, the company's partners are both avid golfers with Robertson a member at Colonial, and Firestone a member at River Crest , which is Fort Worth's oldest club.
They did, however, modify the old Glen Garden layout, which was already somewhat quirky, to make room for the distillery, Ranch House and visitors center. The result is a 5,300-yard par 68 with three par 5s and seven par 3s. The course also has a few new holes, including the par-3 sixth, which features a bit of windswept look with natural Texas prairie grass.
And while the course is playable as is, it's still in progress, Robertson said. F&R has a maintenance crew of six that are working to get the course in better shape than it was previous to the purchase of the land, and some of the holes may yet still be modified.
A little history on Glen Garden
Originally designed by John Bredemus, Glen Garden Country Club opened in 1912, the same year as the late greats Nelson and Hogan were born. Both of them, in fact, played a lot of their early golf at Glen Garden, and did former LPGA player Sandra Palmer.
Over the years it's gone through several incarnations but spent most of its history as a private club until opening to the public the last few years.
It began as a nine holer with sand greens, but by 1925 it had nine more holes and Bermuda greens were installed. It went through a period of bentgrass before going back to Bermuda in 1978. It played to around 6,200 yards as a par 71 before it closed in 2014.
As for playing the course in its current form, there are no green fees, per se. Individuals can only play by invitation. Golf is offered as an amenity for private and charity events set up beforehand.
Whiskey is where it's at
But while the golf remains, TX Whiskey injects new life into this property. Guests to Whiskey Ranch can shop the Ranch Store, a 2,000-square-foot retail area showcasing F&R products along with local goods from Texas artisans as well as plenty of golf merchandise. Handmade bottle caps, using recycled boot leathers, adorn each bottle of TX Whiskey. It's an F&R signature, and a cap-making station will allow guests to create their own.
The Barrel Breezeway at Whiskey Ranch
The "Barrel Breezeway," with barrel racks that mimic the rick house on property, leads to the TX Tavern and the Oak Room. The Tavern is available for tastings and features a large custom bar, comfortable seating, and historic golf memorabilia on display. Around the corner is the Oak Room, with a floor-to-ceiling tiered rock fireplace, sealed concrete floors, oversized round chandeliers with industrial pendant lighting and plenty of natural light. The Oak Room can accommodate approximately 175 people.
There's also a two-sided wraparound covered patio called the Back Porch, with outdoor fireplaces and views of the lake and newly designed 18th hole. Also outside is an open courtyard, which welcomes whiskey lovers with lush greenery and a firepit.
One of a kind
Whiskey Ranch will be the largest whiskey distillery west of the Mississippi, the only one on a fully functioning 18-hole golf course, and the first with a 50-foot copper column still in full view, along with the world’s first "doubler" designed with site windows for public tours. The site has four deep water wells which will be used to craft the TX Straight Bourbon.
Consumers can preview Whiskey Ranch on Thursdays and Fridays in November and December from noon to 5 p.m. Daily tours will begin in January 2018 and Whiskey Ranch is now open for private events.
F&R released its first whiskey brand, TX Blended Whiskey in June 2012. This whiskey was awarded both "Double Gold" and "Best American Craft Whiskey" honors at the 2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The long-anticipated, first-ever North Texas straight bourbon, TX Bourbon, was released in December 2016.