Fantastic greens highlight a round of golf at River Crossing Club north of San Antonio

By Travel ArticlesMarch 4, 2013, 5:00 am

SPRING BRANCH, Texas -- If you cross the Guadalupe River on Highway 281, you've gone too far when seeking out River Crossing Club, a semi-private course located just north of San Antonio.

Taking on a scenic and serene Hill Country setting about 30 minutes north of the city center, River Crossing offers those who make the drive a private-worthy experience at a price point comparable to many of the area's middle-tier courses closer to the Alamo.

While the setting is no doubt unique, it's the conditions -- highlighted by large, smooth greens -- that will have your group talking afterwards.

Superintendent Paul Lane has manned the post at River Crossing since before the club opened in 2001, and his job appears to be quite safe, thanks to stellar playing conditions highlighted by tremendous greens all year round.

In the winter time, when most area courses over-seed their greens with a cooler-weather grass, Lane treats the course's TifEagle Bermuda greens with a weekly pigment product called 'Foursome' that gives the grass a natural color, and Lane also said it helps keep the grass canopy warmer. The result is a consistent, smooth surface with no fall or spring transition period.

River Crossing Club: The golf course

Designed by Larry Hawkins, River Crossing Club rolls gently up and down through wooded, quiet terrain. While this course is part of a 900-unit development, you wouldn't really think it while on the course; playing corridors are wide and framed with trees, with just the occasional house peeking out.

The course is highlighted by a collection of four unique par 3s, which begin with an island green second hole (rest assured, it's a large putting surface to accommodate early-round swings). It's the next par 3 that is toughest: The eighth is a long shot up to 200 yards to an elevated green guarded on the left by a series of bunkers. The prettiest, however, is the 15th, complete with a bridge, fountain and small pond in front of the green.

Back-to-back short par 4s -- No. 4 and No. 5 -- make for ample birdie opportunities early on. You can't accuse Hawkins of playing favorites, either: The fourth is a slight dogleg left, while the fifth curls a little right. The rest of the standout holes at River Crossing are those that come on the property's higher ground and afford natural, long views of the surrounding Hill Country.

Both the eighth and 17th holes are similar-looking par 5s off the tee that start from an elevated perch and slope downhill and dogleg to the right. The penultimate, however, has a view of the Twin Sisters mountains in the distance, plus a green a little better protected to make well-played approaches that more rewarding.

River Crossing Club: The verdict

Fantastic greens at River Crossing Club highlight what makes for a pleasant round of golf in the scenic Texas Hill Country.

With a fantastic practice area and range balls included with your round, a day spent here is a very good private club-worthy experience, especially considering rates here are between $45-$70.

Minutes north of the TPC San Antonio on Highway 281, River Crossing is a much more affordable and player-friendly facility, while still offering enough member-worthy touches to make anyone making the loop feel like a high-roller. The experience here is also a touch more upscale compared to its neighbor just north, Vaaler Creek Golf Club.

As of February 2013, user ratings put River Crossing Club in the Top 10 of golf courses on GolfNow between San Antonio and Austin.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.