AT&T Stadium -- aka "The House that Jerry Built," "JerryWorld" or whatever else you want to call it -- evokes the old adage that everything's bigger in Texas.
Formerly known as Cowboys Stadium, the home of "America's Team" was also the site of the inaugural College Football Playoff national title game in 2015 as well the Cotton Bowl, as well as Super Bowls, college basketball's Final Four and numerous other big-time sporting events and concerts.
This $1.3 billion, 110,000-seat stadium -- with a retractable roof and an HD video board so large you have to see it to believe it -- draws millions of fans each year, and out of those numbers come thousands of golfers. So if you're coming to Big D (okay, Arlington) for the big game, bring your clubs, because there's golf to be played and plenty of other things to do. Here's a quick guide:
Golf in and around Arlington, Texas
There are more than 100 public golf courses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with plenty of good options not far from AT&T Stadium.
The best times to play are March through early June and September through early November (it's really hot there in the summer). Even in January you can get good days. Given that most of the courses are overseeded, they'll be in good shape.
One of my favorite venues is actually right in Arlington, Tierra Verde Golf Club , which is on the opposite side of the city from AT&T Stadium but well worth the 20-minute drive.
Opened in 1998, this David Graham-Gary Panks design is a great example of how good many of the munis in the DFW area are. The par-72, 6,975-yard layout routes through a natural setting of wetlands, trees and meadows, and the Ventana Grille is worth dining at even if you don't play golf there.
A little closer up the road is Cowboys Golf Club , a must-play course for Cowboys fans (although it's no longer owned by Jerry Jones) and really anybody who likes football. The Jeffrey Brauer design is good enough on its own, but add in all the Cowboys memorabilia, Cowboys cheerleader-type cart girls and an all-inclusive green fee that includes meals, and you've got a really unique and memorable experience.
One of the better values in the area -- and really one of the best muni golf courses in Texas -- is Grapevine Golf Course in Grapevine. A true championship layout in a blue-collar setting, the club features 27 holes -- 18 of them designed by the legendary Byron Nelson, who didn't design many golf courses.
Also fairly close is another terrific municipal course, Texas Star Golf Course in Euless, which is on the way to Fort Worth. Designed by Keith Foster, this par-71 golf course has plenty of elevation change and bentgrass greens, with some of the holes having somewhat of a Scottish links flavor.
And Fort Worth has plenty of options, including The Golf Club at Champions Circle and The Golf Club at the Resort . Sadly, historic Glen Garden Golf & Country Club, a former stomping ground of Hogan and Nelson, closed in 2014 to make room for a whiskey distillery.
If you have a more time, you might want to head up to Irving to play the home of the AT&T Byron Nelson at the TPC Four Seasons , which is located near where the Cowboys used to play. In fact, if money's no object, the Four Seasons provides an excellent base, especially for those who are used to a luxurious environment.
And if you don't mind driving 30 minutes to an hour, check out Tour 18 Dallas (a compilation of some of the best holes in the America located in Flower Mound), The Tribute at The Colony and Old American Golf Club in The Colony, which is north of Dallas (a good day-trip the day after the game). The last two are a bit of a haul, but both are memorable. The Tribute does a better than average job of copying holes from the great golf courses in Scotland , and Old American, designed by Tripp Davis with Justin Leonard, emulates the styles of the great early American architects.
Where to stay, party and dine
Arlington is located right in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and only 10 or 15 minutes from DFW International Airport, so there really are endless options of places to stay. But if you want to avoid the hassle and expense of parking at AT&T Stadium, pick a hotel within walking distance.
Those same hotels also serve the nearby theme parks, Globe Life Park in Arlington (Texas Rangers baseball) and a number of other entertainment options, so there are plenty of them in every price range. Everything from the Hilton Arlington to the Days Inn are available for visitors, and even if you don't want to walk, most (if not all of them) offer shuttles. It's the classic "you get what you pay for" although all of them are expensive during really big events), but I've stayed in the area several times and never had any problems.
A little farther out is one of the most unique resort hotels in the state -- the Gaylord Texan, which is actually where the Cowboys stay the night before home games. The domed-shaped structure has more than 1,500 rooms, 400,000 square feet in meeting space, a half-dozen restaurants, water park and facsimiles of famous Texan themes inside, such as the Alamo. Resort options include the Four Seasons, Las Colinas and the Dallas/Fort Worth Marriott at Champions Circle as well as recent high-end options in Dallas such as the W, the Ritz-Carlton and The Highland Dallas (formerly the Hotel Palomar).
AT&T Stadium is in the middle of the Arlington Entertainment District, which also includes Six Flags Over Texas, Globe Life Park in Arlington and the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame. Within walking distance (or you can take a shuttle) of the stadium is Lincoln Square, which offers up plenty of dining and a couple of bars. In addition to national chains, offerings include Sherlock's Baker Street Pub & Grill, Louie Louie Piano Bar, Lupe's Tex Mex Grill and Olenjack's Grille, where you can watch more games and dine on a menu that includes shrimp and grits, chicken-fried steak and mahi-mahi.
And finally, even closer to the stadium (literally next to the parking lots) are Tailgate Tavern, which has patio dining and a full bar, Eddie Deen Crossroads Smokehouse (sorry, no alcohol, but pretty good brisket) and Mariano's Mexican Restaurant, where I'm pretty sure you can get a margarita to go with your fajitas.