Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Golf: Pilot Point golf ranch hopes to break the norm
PILOT POINT -- Jeff Christie ran a successful business for almost 20 years doing something he loves.
But the golf professional always dreamed of something bigger -- a "vision," as he calls it -- which is what he hopes the new Christie's Golf Ranch will become.
When it's finished, the concept will be much more than the driving range Christie opened two weeks ago on 15.5 acres just north of Pilot Point, near the Grayson County line.
It will include a 4,000-square-foot chipping green with two bunkers, an undulating putting green, and a 75-yard practice hole so golfers can work on their short game in addition to driving balls.
"It's not just a driving range," Christie said. "It's a unique practice facility. You can see we've stepped it up a notch."
And the driving range itself, with lights and 35 hitting areas within a horseshoe-shaped tee box, eventually will include full fairways on either side with seven greens in the center. Christie said those greens will have varying degrees of slope along with pin placements that are rotated twice weekly. The idea is to give golfers different perspectives, depending on their position on the tee box.
"We've built practice greens and not just target greens," Christie said. "We're getting people to really visualize their shots instead of just hitting balls."
Once it's finished, the facility will be the only one of its kind in the area. Christie hopes it's also the only one of its kind anywhere.
"We've tried to bring the golf course to the practice facility," said Christie, who also teaches private lessons on-site. "You're bringing what I think is the greatest game to this area."
From 1991 until 2009, Christie was the proprietor of Vista Ridge Golf Center in Flower Mound, a 10-acre driving range with about 30 spots on the tee box. But that business, while successful, never conformed to his original vision.
So Christie, 42, purchased the property north of Pilot Point in 2008 with the intention of building something bigger. He knew the area was experiencing some significant population growth and generally didn't have the golf facilities to match.
He decided to name it a "golf ranch" since it's essentially nestled between ranches along U.S. 377, and he wanted to use the family name in honor of his late father who taught him how to play golf as a child.
Christie feels the facility will benefit golfers of all skill levels. For example, he said one of the best ways for golfers to improve their game is by playing a golf course, rather than just blindly hitting balls from a tee. He's trying to simulate that experience within the confines of a practice setting.
"You have to feel when you're hitting the ball on the driving range that it's just like hitting a shot," Christie said. "We give you that visualization."
He estimates the chipping and putting greens will be completed by Oct. 1. Christie also intends to add an outdoor pavilion in the center of the facility with a fire pit and high-speed Internet access. The fairways also are set for completion this fall.
So far, Christie has been encouraged by the response from the local community. There has been a steady stream of customers every day, with evenings especially busy.
"You don't have any idea how many golfers are up here, but there's a lot of people who drive this road [U.S. 377] who've seen me building the place," Christie said. "I just think it's a great place for outdoor activities. They needed something up here."
Christie said the nearest golf course to his facility is TWU Golf Course, more than 20 miles away. Driving ranges aren't much closer, and don't have the same amenities or level of maintenance.
"It's already helped my game," said Pilot Point resident Billy Alexander, a golf aficionado who already has visited multiple times. "He actually gives you targets to hit at. It helps me with my short game."
Christie said he spent the past two years developing the facility because of his passion for golf. And he has faith that the investment will pay off in the long term.
"There's a lot more vision here. The hope and the vision and the determination is all on the last 20 years of experience," Christie said. "There's not many people who have a dream and can live out their dream. I'm doing that."
TODD JORGENSON can be reached at 940-566-6871. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.