Enjoying the challenge of golf

Certainly the allure of being able to play golf year-round in the Rio Grande Valley is a strong attraction for avid duffers. Add to that excellent golf courses – some ranking among the top courses in the nation – offering a challenge for the best of golfers and you have a golfers’ paradise. Adding to the enjoyment is that it is much less expensive to play golf in South Texas than it is in other winter resort areas.

There are many golf courses to choose from all across the Rio Grande Valley, but for Winter Texans looking for a challenge, here are some of the most challenging courses in the area.

South Padre Island Golf Club – Laguna Vista

For those who want to play a course that will test their skills, number one in the list of top Valley golf courses is the South Padre Island Golf Course in Laguna Vista. The course was recently given a four-star rating by Golf Digest magazine.  ult combination of the scenery, because of its location on the Laguna Madre, and some of the challenges golfers face makes the golf course rank among the top 20 courses in the nation to play.

The biggest challenge comes from the winds coming off the water. On a day when the wind blows against the golfers, it can be a difficult course for even the best of golfers.

Golf Pro Chris Cole says that there are a couple of other challenges. At the par 3 signature hole, golfers must shoot over water to get to the hole.  And there are a couple of holes where golfers must clear native vegetation to get from the tee box to the fairway.

Current rates are $67 for adults and $44 for seniors (over 55) Monday through Thursday and $72 for seniors and $48 for seniors Friday through Sunday.  Prices include a golf cart. Senior packages are available for those who wish to play there regularly. For information call 956-943-5678.

River Bend Resort – Brownsville

In a 2011 survey of local golf pros, all who answered listed River Bend Resort in Brownsville, 4541 Military Highway 281, Brownsville, as one of their favorite courses.  It is located near Resaca de la Palmas State Park and has an abundance of nature to be observed while golfing. Located along the banks of the Rio Grande River, it is known for its immaculate grounds care. Pro shop attendant says the course is one of the best maintained in the Rio Grande Valley.

This course offers something for everyone with four tee-off places per hole. Russell said there is a ladies tee-off location, a senior location, a member’s location and a championship tee-location. The latter offers more challenges to golfer than the other three.  He called it a fun golf course with several holes located along the Rio Grande.  Those who can keep the ball in play will enjoy the course, but those who tend to scatter the ball may find it difficult because of the water challenges. There are also homes built around the golf course that can create challenges for golfers. Currently, hole #16 is a temporary hole, as the original hole is being re-built to United States Golf Association specifications.

The course currently has a special that allows golfers to play 18 holes with half a cart for $29.50. Those who play nine rounds get the tenth round free. Call 956-548-0192 to reserve a tee time.

The dress code is decent shorts or pants with a collared shirt.

Palm View Golf Course – McAllen

Considered one of the premier golf courses in the Rio Grande Valley, Palm View Golf Course, located at 2701 S. Ware Road in McAllen, was built to PGA standards for tournament play.  Re-built in 1999, it has hosted the prestigious VAMOS Golf Tournament and hosted four LPGA Futures tours.  It has 5779 yards of play from the middle tees and 6771 if played from the black tees. The course’s 14 man-made lakes provide many challenges and great views as well.

Rex Flores states that hole four (formerly hole six), a par four hole, is difficult because it has water on both sides and golfers hit into the wind.  Hole seven, a par five hole, has water on one side and an out-of-bounds area on the left.  A small creek comes into play on the second shot and golfers must decide whether to shoot over it or take an extra shot to avoid the water.

Fees for 18 holes walking are $28, while nine holes are $18.20. An extra nine holes is $9.75. The twilight fee (2 p.m.) is $31. Cart fees are $12 for 18 holes and $7.21 for nine holes.  The trail fee is $6 for the driver and $7.80 or $10 for the passenger, for nine and 18 holes respectively. Call 956-681-3444 for information.

Tierra Santa Golf Club – Weslaco

Another top golf course in the Rio Grande Valley, Tierra Santa Golf Club, located at 1901 Club de Amistad in Weslaco, was built in 1995.  The course was designed by Jeff Braur, 1995 AIA Architect of the Year, with consultation by Steve Elkington, PGA Touring Pro. A par 72 course, it has a length of over 7100 yards from the black tee box designations, but many choose the red, blue or white tee box locations for higher handicaps.

Joey Rios, golf shop manager, states the main challenge to the course is its length.  Rios said that because the course has unrestricted water, it might be the greenest golf course in the Valley due to the drought.  They water the course daily. The golf course is currently repairing its 68 bunkers one at a time and should be completed by January 15.  The bunkers offer challenges to golfers, being filled with sand to make it harder to hit the ball.

The greens fee is $34 weekdays and $37 on weekends.  Cart fees are $12 for 18 holes.  The twilight rate after 2 p.m. is $27.50 including a cart.  Dress code requires collared shirt and does not allow denim or cut-offs. For more information, call 956-973-1811.

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