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Lantana’s Underwood saving grandfather’s golf course

Ty Underwood couldn’t bear the thought that the golf course his grandfather built and he had played on in high school should go under, so he did what any avid golfer and businessman would do.

He bought it.

Actually, the Lantana resident formed a partnership with his father, brother and a silent partner to save Top O’ the Lake Country Club in Bowie from foreclosure. Because he did, the town of about 5,500 people near Wichita Falls will once again have its own place to play golf.

“The bank basically owned it and was going to turn it into a pasture since the people there weren’t golfers,” said Underwood, a Lantana resident since 2004 and member at Lantana Golf Club. “I didn’t want to see that. I grew up playing golf there. Bowie needs a golf course so we took a flier on it.”

Ty’s, father Greg, brother Kevin and their partner put about $100,000 into the course and hired Tom Hall from the Gainesville Municipal Golf Course as their new superintendent/pro. The course reopened for play Oct. 15 about six weeks since their purchase after having been closed since spring.

“We signed up 20 members that day,” Ty Underwood said. “We hope to have 100 new members in the next 30 days.

“The members who signed up said the course is the best it’s been in three years. They just ran out of money. It hadn’t been fertilized in six years.”

Top O’ the Lake was one of 27 golf courses built in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico by Ty’s grandfather Frank. Opened in 1963 near Lake Amon G. Carter, it featured nine holes until 1998 when a member donated the land for another nine holes. Today, the 18-hole layout is 5,542 yards long and plays at par 70.

The course’s membership, which Ty said was once between 150 and 250, owned the course until it was bought by two California men in 2005. Unfortunately the recession that began in 2008 dried up their funds, forcing the course into neglect and eventually into foreclosure.
Fortunately, Greg, an attorney with an office in Bowie, knew about the course’s financial problems and alerted Ty, owner of Arlington’s Resin Resources, a plastic pellets company, and Kevin, a landscaping company owner in Sanger. Together, they formed the group to purchase the course.

“It made the Dallas Morning News top nine-hole courses list year after year,” said Ty, a 1987 Bowie High School graduate. “It used to have a lot of personality to it. It was a great little course. That’s what we hope to bring back.”

In addition to golf course improvements, Ty and his group plan to open a restaurant and bar in mid-November in the 8,000-square-foot clubhouse. It will be called Frank’s Place in memory of his grandfather who died in the early 1990s.

Ty, who spent most of his childhood in Gainesville, left Bowie after graduating from high school and went to college at the University of North Texas. He remained in Denton after graduating from UNT and since then has been been a traveling salesman who bought his current company in 2000.

Ty and his group are working closely with the city of Bowie and the Bowie Chamber of Commerce to help make the transition go smoothly and promote the course. He said having such a place is not only good for the members but also for the community.

“Every city you go to has a golf course,” he said. “The city could not afford not to have a golf course. “

With most of the logistics in place, Ty said an official grand opening is planned when Frank’s Place opens. He does have one request before that.

“All we need is rain,” he said. “The grass is dying for it.”

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