Apple Rock Golf Course Image courtesy: hsbresort.com
The Texas Hill Country describes not only a region (the gently rolling south-central portion of the state), but an entire attitude, the kind that says, Howdy, yall. Come on down, kick back and enjoy life. Thats precisely the outlook youll find at the Horseshoe Bay Resort Marriott, where a new hotel has raised the bar on relaxation in these parts.
Opened in 1973, Horseshoe Bay has long been recognized for its trio of diverse, immaculately maintained Robert Trent Jones courses. But for years, the on-site accommodations and amenities were merely serviceable, preventing the resort from being a must-see destination.
Enter Marriott, with a 349-room hotel that debuted last May. Cloaked in muted earth tones that blend seamlessly with its surroundings, the seven-story structure affords panoramic views of Lake Lyndon B. Johnson and serves up a whole enchilada of luxuries, including a spa and fitness center, foot and bike paths, lush Oriental gardens, a marina and a private beach.
So serene are these surrounds, many visitors never leave the premises. Oh, they might venture to nearby Marble Falls and its Blue Bonnet Cafe, a monument to meringue that celebrates homemade-pie happy hour every afternoon. But the Marriott caters to guests with dining options ranging from casual to elegant. Highly recommended are the imaginative Trans-Pecos stylings at the Lantana Grill, where the chicken-fried lobster tail is a conversation piece.
Jones three courses'Slick Rock, Ram Rock and Applerock'are a showcase of Hill Country golf. In fitting with the laid-back lifestyle, fairways are framed by soothing oak, elm and mesquite trees, and crisscrossed by babbling brooks. Wildflowers and native vegetation line playing corridors, providing camouflage for herds of foraging deer.
Slick Rock is the most user-friendly course and receives the most play, about 30,000 of Horseshoe Bays 70,000-plus collective rounds. With tight fairways, strategic bunkering and smallish, well-protected greens, Ram Rock is the most penal.
Applerock sits between its siblings in difficulty'and its the most scenic. The three-hole stretch beginning at the elevated 10th tee (back-to-back par 5s and a 179-yard par 3 over water) ranks among the states most photogenic acreage. Because of the hilly terrain, club selection can be problematic on all three courses, and golfers will face a number of uneven lies.
I like to say we have the toughest resort course, the prettiest resort course and the resort course thats the most fun to play, says director of golf James Rolls. Thats a great package to offer.
Thats not even considering the impressively landscaped Whitewater Putting Course. With holes ranging from 50 to 150 feet and featuring doglegs, bunkers and swales, this 18-hole Bermuda grass track would be a challenge even for nearby resident Ben Crenshaw.
Unlike some get-away-from-it-all retreats, Horseshoe Bay is conveniently located'only 45 minutes northwest of Austin and its renowned music scene. The resort is a favorite getaway for favorite son Willie Nelson, as well as country icon George Strait and state football legends Darrell Royal and Roger Staubach. When one is on the road as much as Willie, theres no place like Horseshoe Bay to decompress.
by Russ Pate, LINKS Magazine