Doan on PGA Frisco’s opening tee shot: ‘I smoked it’
The sun was rising beneath the clouds shortly after 7 a.m. on Thursday morning as PGA Club Professional Cameron Doan, a straw Ping hat atop his head, arrived to the first tee of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. Doan, 55, PGA Head Professional for a quarter-century at nearby Preston Trail Golf Club in Dallas, and vice president of the Northern Texas PGA Section, knew many of the faces around the tee, and should have. Their purpose of being there so early was to see him.
Doan would have the honor of hitting the opening tee shot on Thursday at Fields Ranch East, the first of many championships slated for the new PGA Frisco complex on the Gil Hanse-designed course. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will be played here in two years, and the PGA Championship is slated for Fields Ranch East in 2027.
Doan stepped up, calmed his nerves, and absolutely flushed his opening drive.
“I smoked it. That helped,” Doan said. “I’ll remember that one.”
Doan, one of 36 members of this week’s Corebridge Financial PGA Team, earned his spot in Frisco after tying for third at the 2022 Senior PGA Professional Championship in New Mexico. The event was played in autumn, and he had a lot of time to think about that opening shot in a major championship, something he had aspired to do for a lifetime.
“It meant a lot,” said Doan, who opened with a solid round of 72. “I think I told myself leading up to it that, well, Ok, I'm just hitting it for everybody else and I'll be all right. When I walked over to the putting green and started thinking about it I had to work on my breathing. I was pretty amped up.
“It's an honor to be able to do that for everything that's going to happen here for the next 50 years. It's an honor. It really is.”
There watching, seated on the first tee, was Joe Black, former PGA president and a significant figure in Texas golf (Black is a member of both the PGA and Texas Golf Hall of Fames). Black made the drive from Austin, and it was a highlight for Doan to look over and see him. Texas hosts the Joe Black Cup matches each year, and Doan has played in more of them than anybody. After his opening tee shot, Doan walked over, took off his hat, and gave Black a warm hug.
“Cameron has been a friend for so long ... he’s just such a great guy,” Black said. “His dad was a Golf Professional at two nine-hole golf courses at the same time in New Mexico. He is a dedicated, true PGA Golf Professional, and obviously, one of the best. I wanted to be here for him.
“This whole complex (PGA Frisco) is just a dream come true. Personally, this is one of the most important moments (in golf) for me. When I was an acting officer of the PGA and president of the Northern Texas Section, we always had conversations about Dallas, how it would be the ideal place to have our national headquarters. It’s central, you can play golf year-round, and it’s such a great golf state, with such a great golf history in this state.
“To have all this come to fruition, well, I’m glad that I was able to see it in my lifetime.”
Fields Ranch East with aces to open
Just as PGA Club Professional Cameron Doan always will be the first competitor to strike a shot in competition at PGA Frisco, fellow PGA Club Professional Dave McNabb will own his piece of history, too. McNabb had the first ace of the 2023 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, holing a 7-iron from 163 yards at the eighth hole during the morning wave.
“I was kind of between clubs. I settled on the 7-iron, I saw one bounce and I sort of picked my tee up,” McNabb said. “My caddie, Donny (Wessner), says, ‘It went in!’ First one at Frisco, right? Pretty cool stuff.”
Dallas resident Corey Pavin, the 1995 U.S. Open champion and 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, was not far behind, joining McNabb with a hole-in-one at the par-3 fourth (his 13th hole), where he hit 4-iron from 183 yards.
Pavin says he may be forgetting a couple, but thought Thursday’s ace at PGA Frisco was his 15th, and “seventh or eighth” in competition. Kenny Perry was playing along, and he let Pavin know that it’s the second time he has made a hole-in-one with Perry in his group.
In the second round of the 1992 Masters, Pavin was grinding to make the cut when he made a 1 on the 16th hole at Augusta National. He made the cut, shot 135 on the weekend, and tied for third. Pavin said Thursday’s hole location at the fourth hole was similar to one he played on Tuesday in a pro-am.
“I hit the wrong club in the pro-am, and I hit the right club today,” Pavin said. “And I just got up and hit a really nice 4-iron, just a little draw and I was just watching it in the air thinking, I hope it comes down on the green where I want it to. And it did, it came down maybe 30 feet, 25 feet short of the hole and we just watched it roll over the ridge and go right towards the cup and then there was no golf ball on the green anymore, it went right into the hole.
“So it was pretty exciting.”
Pavin shot 1-under 71. McNabb, 57, is the PGA Head Professional at Applebrook Golf Club in Malvern, Pennsylvania, and is playing in his 10th major championship. His usually steady ball striking was not there for most of his opening 78, but it was there at the eighth, where he said his 7-iron was struck perfectly.
Pavin’s ace may have been more lucrative; he is a member of the PGA Tour Champions’ Hole-in-One Club. “Kenny Perry already paid me,” Pavin said. He wasn’t sure how many pros were it it this week.
“I'm just hoping a lot are playing this week because you have to be playing the tournament,” he said. “So I'm hoping there's 40 or 50 that are playing this week. I'll find out soon, trust me.”
Love III already planning his Frisco return
Davis Love III has battled a battery of injuries the last few years, but he traveled to Texas this week because he wanted to see everything he had heard so much about at PGA Frisco. He opened with a round of 73.
“It never let's up,” he said of Fields Ranch East. “They always say, Well, it's right there in front of you. Well, it's not right there in front of you; you got to figure it out,” said Love III, the 1997 PGA champion and two-time Ryder Cup captain. "There's all kinds of little challenges that you wouldn't get a lot of places. I played a few of his (Gil Hanse’s) courses and watched a few of 'em on TV lately and you just have to think about every shot.
“A lot of times out there I started thinking I was playing like a Kapalua hole or a Seminole hole. Like if I hit it over there it will end up over there. Even the last hole I hit a 4-iron in and there's no hole, there's no pin. You don't even shoot at the pin. ... So there's a lot of British Open kind of thinking out there. Linksy course on a big horse farm.”
Love said his last line with a smile. Overall, he was highly impressed with the property and all that is going on at PGA Frisco.
"It's going to be a really cool place for a golf trip because you got two great golf courses and so much other things to do," he said. "I want to play the short course and I want to play the putting course and all that kind of stuff. So I was excited to come see it, because it's such a massive project ,and I've heard about it really for three or four years."
Short shots: David Frost, who lives in Dallas, withdrew and was replaced by Kent Jones. ... The first group off the tee at PGA Frisco included three Dallas-area players: Cameron Doan was joined by fellow Texans Harrison Frazer and Paul Stankowski. Stankowski and Doan are friends who met one another playing on the team at the University of Texas-El Paso, where they roomed together in Stankowski’s freshman year. “I was glad to be a part of Sarge’s show,” Stankowski said of Doan. “We played for four years together, so I’ve known him since I was a 17-year-old kid. We always knew he’d be successful in whatever he did, and he chose golf. I was glad and honored and they put this together. It almost felt like the whole day was for Cameron, which was awesome. And he played well.” ... The PGA of America recognized founder Carlton Dixon and his Dallas-Fort Worth company, Reveal Suits, for its 2023 Community Impact Award. The award recognizes a diverse owned business which significantly gives back to the local community through programs, initiatives, partnerships and operations within the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, which surrounds the new Home of the PGA of America in Frisco, Texas. Reveal Suits is minority and veteran-owned, and was founded by Dixon in 2018. Wednesday, Dixon was at PGA Frisco sporting a sharp blue plaid suit with a blue PGA lining.