This year marks the second year that TPC Craig Ranch has held the AT&T Byron Nelson. In 2021, the course hosted its first Nelson, but this year, the sold-out tournament finally feels like it’s at home.
“I think the first year was a trial run,” real estate developer David Craig told Local Profile. Due to COVID-19, attendance was limited in 2021, but this year there are no restrictions. “Now you’re going to see what a big-time tournament looks like.”
As Local Profile previously reported, the Craig family has helped shaped Collin County for the past thirty years. And over two decades ago, David Craig brought in former pro golfer Tom Weiskopf to design the course at TPC Craig Ranch.
“At the groundbreaking of TPC Craig Ranch, to anyone who would listen to me, I’d say, ‘When we get done with this golf course, we’re gonna host the Byron Nelson.'” Word started circulating that the Byron Nelson was moving, leaving Jon Drago, the tournament’s director, to deny the scuttlebutt. “For years, he couldn’t figure out where that rumor was coming from,” said Craig, grinning. “Well, it was coming from me.”
Craig went to his first Byron Nelson in the early ’80s. “I met Byron,” he said. “When we opened here, he signed a picture of himself to the members, which hangs prominently in the clubhouse.” Getting a sign Byron Nelson photo was much easier than getting the tournament. It was a multi-year process of building relationships between TPC Craig Ranch, the city of McKinney and tournament hosts, the Salesmanship Club. When it looked like the tournament was ready to move from Trinity Forest, Craig and the city were ready to offer a new home.
“It’s an alignment of the spirit of Byron Nelson and the city of McKinney,” Mayor George Fuller said. “He was very specific and very deliberate. This tournament would be one that helps people. That was the focus. Byron Nelson could have put his name on any tournament.” The city of McKinney, the mayor explained, also has that focus on community service and philosophy, which is why he believes the tournament’s new location is an ideal fit.
“I am very grateful,” Craig added. “Byron was such a kind person. Peggy, his widow, is a class act, and she’s here every day. It’s just an honor to be associated with the name Nelson and the name Byron Nelson, Peggy and the Salesmanship Club.”
If Craig could have told his younger self who started attending Byron Nelsons so many years ago that the tournament would be held at a golf course he built, would he have believed it? “No,” he said. “I still don’t believe it. I’m still pinching myself. I still believe that I’m blessed and fortunate beyond my wildest dreams to be sitting here, looking at this magnificent golf course.”
As the tournament goes into his second year at TPC Craig Ranch, Mayor Fuller hopes that the Byron Nelson is here to stay. “If I have anything to say about it, they’re going to be here through 2090,” he said. “Now I may not be here, but if I have any say at all, this is the permanent home. The tournament will never leave. It’s the right community. It’s the right mission. It’s home.”