Dallas Travel Guide
© Courtesy of Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Eric Affeldt has lived all across the country, and now he calls Dallas home. The CEO of ClubCorp, the largest owner of private clubs in the world, Affeldt was voted the most powerful person in golf by Golf Inc. magazine in 2010. He heads up more than 154 golf and country clubs, business clubs and sports clubs in 26 states, the District of Columbia, Mexico and Beijing—which explains why he gets on a plane once a week and flies in excess of 100,000 miles a year.
Before taking his current job, Affeldt was a partner at KSL Capital Partners, a private equity firm that specializes in travel- and recreation-related companies. “We bought ClubCorp at the end of 2006, and since I [used to be] an operator as well as a principal at the private equity shop, I was asked to come down and be the CEO of the company.”
That’s when Affeldt headed to Dallas from Denver. His initial impression? “I call it topographically challenged,” he says, laughing. “But there are so many great things about Dallas that overcome and outweigh the fact that it’s flat.”
Known for his aggressive business style—he’s more likely to buy a new golf property than to lay low and play it safe—Affeldt exemplifies what he likes best about his adopted hometown. “The best part of the city is the people. They are the friendliest people I have ever been around.”
The executive also views Dallas itself as vibrant. “It was far less affected by the recession than others,” he explains. “It’s very diverse. It is not as energy dependent as Houston would be, for example. I am very bullish on Dallas. Hosting the Super Bowl didn’t hurt, either. It was tremendous exposure nationally and internationally.”
If you caught the Super Bowl only on television, Affeldt highly recommends a visit to the new Cowboys Stadium—the largest domed structure in the world. (It’s so big that it could fit the entire Statue of Liberty underneath its roof.) He suggests taking the VIP tour, which includes an inside look at the entire stadium, to learn all sorts of facts and figures about the stadium and how it was constructed.
Getting to the Big D shouldn’t be a problem either: The Dallas– Fort Worth airport (situated between the two cities) is the fourth busiest in the U.S., with more than 2,000 flights daily and 60 million passengers annually. “Dallas has a great airport. It’s easy to get coast to coast, probably as easy as from any city in the United States,” Affeldt says. “Dallas offers that ease of travel with its central location and accessibility. You can get to so many places from DFW airport in two hours. I just got back from Cabo San Lucas, and it was a short two-hour flight.”
But even though he often visits the airport, you won’t find him running through it. When asked for his best travel tips, Affeldt replies that “I am not a rush guy when it comes to airport travel. I prefer to be at the airport early and not put myself in situations where I am likely to be frustrated.” And, he adds, “I am big into convenience. If a hotel is close to the airport and I am going to be arriving late or leaving early, I’d rather stay closer to the airport—even if there is somewhere that is nicer 40 minutes away.”
Dallas is also a great place to run a business, the executive says. “The government is very pro- business. From a hiring standpoint, there is a great base of people to choose from. We have highly technical people who work at Texas Instruments and EDS [now HP Enterprise], both headquartered here. We have a wide variety of professionals and skilled labor. I think it has become one of the fastest growing cities for Fortune 500s to relocate to as a result. And, of course, not having state taxes is appealing to everyone who lives here.”
Affeldt also points out numerous other benefits to living in Dallas. “There is tremendous healthcare and excellent higher education, with Southern Methodist University (SMU) being based here, Texas Christian University (TCU) over in Fort Worth, and the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in Richardson [a suburb of Dallas].”
You may not think of Dallas as an art town, but the city’s urban arts district is the largest in the United States. The most popular venues include the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Meyerson Symphony Center, the AT&T Performing Arts Center, and the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House. Affeldt also thinks everyone who comes to Dallas should visit the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, where you can view photographs and artifacts chronicling the assassination and legacy of president John F. Kennedy.
“There is always something going on,” he says. “In addition to the performing arts center, we have all major professional sports—hockey, baseball, football, basketball—and we have minor league sports.” For outdoors enthusiasts, “We have some very large lakes where a lot of people go to on the weekends to boat and fish. And it’s a short drive to the hill country in Austin.”
Locals say that Dallas is known for three things: being the home of America’s Team, also known as the Dallas Cowboys, and after that, eating and shopping. If you want to shop, Affeldt recommends Neiman Marcus downtown, as well as the upscale NorthPark Shopping Center and Galleria malls.
Clearing up a common misconception, Affeldt says that people have the wrong idea about Dallas weather. “They think it’s intolerably hot, and it’s not. I have lived in places with great, great, great weather, and while it’s hot in Dallas in the summertime, we don’t have the humidity that Miami and Washington, D.C., have in summer. I think the climate gets a worse rap than it deserves.
Affeldt's Address Book
Four Seasons Resort and Club in Las Colinas
4150 N. MacArthur Blvd.
Irving, TX 75038
“It’s so easy to get here from the airport,” Affeldt says of this golf-centric property.
The Joule Hotel
1530 Main St.
Dallas, TX 75201
With its rooftop pool and sleek elegance, this fairly new property already has an excellent reputation, Affeldt says.
Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek
2821 Turtle Creek Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75219
This Dallas icon “is well known nationally, and it’s a great, great property,” says Affeldt.
2440 Victory Park Ln.
Dallas, TX 75219
If you’re in Dallas to see an event at the American Airlines Center, Affeldt recommends that you try the “architecturally interesting” W Hotel in Victory Park, a posh playground close to downtown.
4511 McKinney Ave.
Dallas, TX 75205
This high-end favorite is one of Kent Rathbun’s several restaurants in Dallas. Rathbun, who beat out Bobby Flay on Iron Chef, offers global cuisine with Pacific Rim influences.
Hibiscus 2927 N. Henderson Ave.
Dallas, TX 75206
Often referred to as the best restaurant in Texas, this upscale, Pacific-influenced chophouse is Affeldt’s top choice.
Joe T. Garcias
2201 North Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX 76164
If you want to try classic Tex-Mex, Affeldt suggests this spot, famous for its margaritas and homemade tortillas. “It’s one of those places where you just have to say you’ve been, even though there are places with better food.”
1000 Ballpark Way
Arlington, TX 76011
“Going to see the Texas Rangers at Arlington Stadium is one of my favorite things to do—especially since they made it to the World Series last year for the first time,” Affeldt says.
Gleneagles Country Club
5401 West Park Blvd.
Plano, TX 75093
You didn’t think Affeldt would forget to mention golf, did you? ClubCorp has 12 properties in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex. “You have everything from high-end, daily fee resort properties—like the Cowboys Club, which is popular—to some of the best private golf in the country between Dallas National and our own club, Gleneagles,” he says.
Dallas Museum of Art
1717 N. Harwood St.
Dallas, TX 75201
Amon Carter Museum of American Art
3501 Camp Bowie Blvd.
Fort Worth, TX 76107-2695
Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora St.
Dallas, TX 75201
“Dallas Museum of Art is fabulous. And in Fort Worth, there is the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, which has all Western art—Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell—and you just aren’t going to find that anywhere else in the country,” Affeldt says. If you want to see modern and contemporary sculpture, visit the Nasher Sculpure Center and its unusual garden.