Last week Avanzada Golf & Ranch Club announced the development of a new 1,100-acre high-end golf community at the intersection of Hwy. 377 and Kelly Road in Parker County.
The new golf course community is being referred to as the “crown jewel” of the larger 2,400-acre master-planned Kelly Ranch Estates.
The entire development lies within the boundary of the Aledo ISD.
Avanzada’s founder is PGA Tour veteran JJ Henry, who will work with award-winning golf course architect Jim Lipe, considered one of the best golf course architects in the industry. Henry’s inspiration for the name “Avanzada” came from the history of Fort Worth, once known as “Trinity Outpost.” “Avanzada” is the Spanish word for “outpost.”
Henry’s partner in Avanzada is Fort Worth native and developer Bubba Vann. Vann, like Henry, is a TCU graduate and successful entrepreneur and developer of the renowned South Padre Island Golf Club.
Both men feel in a sense that they are coming home.
“I went to school here at TCU in the mid ’90s — I started here in ’93,” Henry said. “I worked my way up; I was a college player of the year in '98. And in essence for the last 25 years I’ve been playing in the PGA Tour.”
Henry met his wife at school, and they live locally.
“I'm a little bit in that transition — I'll be 48 in April, and these guys are getting younger and I'm getting older. For the latter part of 25 years, I've basically been a part of these these high-end golf communities, golf courses, clubhouses, amenities, and I just thought at some point, it'd be really nice, with the right group and the vision and the attention to detail, to be able to create that vision with the right team in place. Avanzada will allow me to incorporate the best things I have seen and experienced during my PGA Tour career.”
Henry has a team of experienced professionals to bring the vision to reality, beginning with Vann, who still owns South Padre Island Golf Club, but who is also happy to return to the area. Vann played golf at the D3 level before transferring to TCU, and later moved into real estate. He worked alongside Landmark, which built some of the premiere golf courses in the country.
“I started out as a home builder working alongside them and learned the business and then I was able to become the developer of South Padre Island Golf Club, which I still own today,” Vann said. “And so when JJ and I started talking about two and a half years ago, I moved my family up here. I always wanted to get back to Fort Worth being a TCU grad. And so we put our heads together.”
Vann said he had a great deal of admiration for Henry.
“When I was blowing and going early in my career in 2006, this guy was playing on a Ryder Cup, you know, best 12 Americans in the world. And so obviously somebody that I held in highest regard being a golfer, the way he always lived his life and his character, and so we decided to put this together. We searched high and low to find the right piece of dir, and I like to think that God designed this golf course.”
Course designer Lipe is a longtime Jack Nicklaus associate whose task will be to design a golf course that challenges the better golfers while also providing an enjoyable experience for beginners.
“The property at Avanzada will allow Jim and me to design a great golf course, one of the best in Texas,” Henry said. “As a famous architect once said, ‘The best golf courses are built by God.’ Avanzada has been blessed with mature hardwoods, 200 feet of elevation changes, rolling hills, long views, and half a mile of water frontage from Bear Creek. I am excited to bring my vision for golf and a new healthy lifestyle community to Parker County. I look forward to making Avanzada my new home.”
Additionally, Mike Sheridan, who has also worked with Nicklaus, will be involved from the master-plan point of view. Also involved in the project are private banker Gilbert Little, and Justin Hammond and Gilbert Eagle, who will handle the real estate side.
Avanzada Golf & Ranch club rests within the heart of the new Kelly Ranch development. The 2,400-acre master-planned development will encompass three new communities, Rio Vista at Kelly Ranch, La Dorada at Kelly Ranch, and Avanzada Golf & Ranch Club.
Lots in the 100-acre Rio Vista Phase I are already being developed.
Kelly Ranch will also take advantage of nearly 1.5 miles of Highway 377 frontage with luxury retail shopping, restaurants, and entertainment with its 65 acre “Shops at Avanzada” development. Along with the resort feel brought by retail shopping and a champion golf course, Kelly Ranch will feature all of the necessary development needed for a day-to-day life. New grocery store, medical office buildings, Aledo ISD school sites, and class A business offices will be located along the eastern most border of the development at the cross roads of Highway 377 and Kelly Road.
The residential portion of Avanzada will be a high-end gated community. Dirt will start turning on the residential portion in January, and the golf course will begin work in late spring, with a target date of fall 2024 to begin golfing.
Vann said the first step is to cut the lanes for the fairways.
“We need to make sure the golf course fits the way we want. We took this piece of property, we found the best 18 golf holes, and then we built around them,” Vann said of the course plans. “A lot of guys are like, ‘oh, we got to cram it in over here.’ We took the best 18 golf holes — it's about the golf. Golf is the flagship service.”
“This won't be a golf course where you're worried about hitting into somebody's back yard,” Henry added. “The setbacks for both the golf course and the home sites are such where we probably won’t have a single out of bounds on the entire course.”
Henry painted a picture of his vision for the course and home sites.
“The unique thing, if you're familiar with Bear Creek, is in spots it goes up to 50 feet wide, beautiful limestone cliff lines that get up, six, seven stories high in points. So, to catalog that unique feature from a golf perspective here in our area is something that we're excited to be able to work into the the architecture and the the layout of the golf course,” Henry said. “The golf course footprint itself will be down low in and around the creek among a lot of the hardwoods. We have almost 200 feet elevation change from our western boundary down to Bear Creek — some beautiful vistas of even downtown Fort Worth — we’ll have a lot of those long Texas views and you'll have the real estate up high, the golf down low so you'll have a lot of unique features.”
Lots will begin at $290,000 and go to about $850,000 in the first phase, but later phases will have lots priced at up to $2.5 million.
Henry and Vann said they value family. Henry’s first exposure to golf was being a caddy for his dad, and his son was his caddy at one point on the PGA tour.
His son has turned out to be quite a golfer himself, and will go to the university of Oklahoma next year on a golf scholarship.
“The great thing about golf, the great thing about community and the uniqueness is all the honesty, the integrity, the sportsmanship,” Henry said. “We want this to be a center spot and a place in town that everybody can be proud of and say ‘hey, yeah, that's part of our town — that's part of our community.’”
“Golf is a big part of my family as well. My wife played college golf at the University of Texas,” Vann said. “I'm in the golf business. “We're passionate about the game, and about building something that we'll be proud to play.”
Both men plan to have homes in the Avanzada community.
Avanzada is in the process of setting up an office in central Aledo to provide information to the community. For more information, visit avanzadagolf.com.
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