Golf on three budgets San Antonio
Brackenridge Park is Texas' first 18-hole municipal golf course
If you're planning a San Antonio golf vacation, the good news is that not only are there plenty of good courses from which to choose, but an option for every budget.
In terms of variety, scenery and price, San Antonio might have the best public golf scene in the state of Texas. From the new high-end JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa to the recently renovated and affordable Brackenridge Park, there's a golf course for every taste and every budget.
Fall and spring are probably the best times of year to plan a San Antonio golf trip, but winter can be pretty good, too. The area has a mild winter climate, where days in the 70s and 80s are not uncommon, and like Arizona golf, most golf courses in San Antonio are overseeded, which means you'll enjoy terrific conditions.
Here, then, is a guide for enjoying San Antonio golf on three different budgets – premium ($100 or more rack rate), medium (generally $50-$100), or bargain ($50 or below).
High-end public golf in San Antonio
Perhaps the biggest news in the last year or two has been the addition of the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and two golf courses of the TPC San Antonio. In order to play here, you have to be a member or a resort guest, and the packages generally do run on the premium side. However both courses – the Greg Norman/Sergio Garcia designed AT&T Oaks Course, and the Pete Dye/Bruce Lietzke-created AT&T Canyons Course host PGA Tour (Valero Texas Open) and Champions Tour (AT&T) events respectively. And that means you're getting to play where the pros play, which is always fun.
Norman's course has scores of tough bunkers, strategically difficult fairways and undulating greens designed to test the best players in the world, while Dye's work (which is mild by his standards) has more elevated tees, views of the Hill Country and blind shots.
The Westin La Cantera, former site of the PGA Tour Valero Texas Open isn't too shabby either, and it's better than ever. The resort recently underwent a multi-million dollar improvement project and has on the best views of the city. You don't have to be a guest to play either the Tom Weiskop/Jay Morrish-designed Resort Course, which hosted the PGA Tour for more than a decade, or the Arnold Palmer Course. Both have spectacular elevation changes and great Hill Country views. The bonus on the Resort Course is that it bumps up next to the Six Flags Fiesta Texas Theme Park.
And finally, the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort near SeaWorld offers 27 shotmaker's holes designed by Arthur Hills. This understated, elegant Western resort has a true Hill Country Feel, great dining and excellent golf with plenty of wildlife, local flora and hole variety. The trick to playing the course successfully is to think your way through it, as is the case for most Hills courses.
Mid-priced golf courses in San Antonio
Just below the resort experience is probably one of the most talked about golf courses in the state, The Quarry. Opened in 1993, the Quarry Golf Club is a splendid Keith Foster design that combines a linksy sort of nine with a nine that's carved out of an old stone quarry, making for some interesting caroms on wayward tee shots. The course has a real resort feel and even offers forecaddies.
You don't often include municipals in this category, but Brackenridge Park Golf Course, an A.W. Tillinghast design and one of the oldest golf courses in Texas, fits the mold after a recent renovation. Great conditions and old school architecture make this a must-play for any mid-level-budget visitor. Plus, it's the new home of the Texas Golf Hall of Fame and just minutes from downtown and the famed River Walk.
Visiting golfers will also enjoy the Golf Club of Texas at Briggs Ranch, a 7,000-yard Lee Trevino design that's different from most anything else around the city, with lakes, streams, mounding, a few pot bunkers and undulating greens.
Other good mid-level options include The Republic Golf Club and Canyon Springs Golf Club. The Republic was designed by former Keith Foster associate Art Schaupeter and has become a perennial favorite among locals with its great conditions, challenging greens and mature trees. Canyon Springs was built on an historic ranch and quarry, has a man-made waterfall behind one green, and was once planned as a TPC course. The result is a challenging and beautiful design.
San Antonio golf bargains
If you're looking for bargain golf in San Antonio, a good place to start is the Alamo City Golf Trail. Although the Trail is headed up by the mid-level priced Brackenridge Park, the rest on the list can be played for less, including Cedar Creek, a Finger/Dye/Spann design on the northwest side of town.
There are four other courses on the Trail, including Olmos Basin and Mission Del Lago golf courses, both of which are enjoyable for the money.
If you're looking for more tournament history, Pecan Valley Golf Club is an excellent choice. Site of 1968 PGA Championship won by Julius Boros, the 7,010-yard, par-71 Press Maxwell-designed course underwent a $5.5 million renovation in 1998 to bring back much of its former glory. Pecan Valley also hosted the 2001 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
And finally, an excellent daily-fee course that's almost always in good condition but very economical to play is Silverhorn Golf Club. Operated by Palmer Golf Management, Silverhorn is a Randy Heckenkemper design that opened in 1996. Heckenkemper also crafted Silverhorn Golf Club in Oklahoma City five years earlier, but he worked with PGA Tour pros Willie Wood and Scott Verplank on the San Antonio version to build a course that would not only test really good players, but also be enjoyable to the average player.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.