For several years we have asked for Winter Texans’ feedback about our RGV area top golf courses and favorite holes to play at the many golf courses across the Rio Grande Valley. This year we want to know more.
With the need to socially distance, find ways to spend our time productively, and safely enjoy the company of others, many of us have found ourselves looking for more outdoor activity. The Rio Grande Valley, with its mild winter and more than its fair share of sunny days, is the ideal place for old duffers and the newly initiated alike to make a day of it out on the links.
As we expect to see more of our Winter Texans out swinging the ol’ hickory more frequently this season, we would like you to brag about what it is you love about the courses you visit. Help others find their new favorites. And maybe find a new favorite or two of your own in the process.
So, be sure to fill out and return our full page ballot you can find in this issue and the next two before the contest deadline at 4 p.m. on December 9, 2020, and you’ll be entered into a drawing for great prizes like rounds of golf, dining, and more. You can also fill out your ballot online at www.WinterTexanTimes.com. Just look for the ad promoting the contest, click it and complete your submission online.
In this issue and the next two (November 18 and December 2) you will find a four page center-spread designed for you to pull out, collect, and keep as your guide to our many wonderful Valley golf courses. In each issue we will feature the courses from a different area of the Valley -- Upper, Mid, and Lower Valley. This will serve as your definitive directory to the Rio Grande Valley golf courses you must get out and try this season.
Leaves us to wonder how many of our readers have played every hole the Valley has to offer at these 27 little oases of active fun?
The sun shines on lower Valley golf courses
Brownsville Golf Center
Wide open fairways and large – yet quick – greens give golfers an opportunity to improve their game without being beaten up by courses that are sometimes way too challenging for those looking at the simpler things in life. Brownsville Golf Center is exactly what a municipal course should be, inviting and available to all levels of golfers. That is not to say it is not challenging, and water comes into play on most holes. Also, you still have to carry that water at times and be strategic on several holes, deciding how much you want to cut a corner or to “go for it.” Just because a green is large does not always mean you want to be putting the length of it to get close to the pin.
Address: 180 W. San Marcello, Brownsville
Phone: (956) 541-2582
Description: 18-hole, par-70, municipal course
Golf Pro: Isabel Gaucin
Yardage: Blue – 6,144; White – 5,652; Red – 5,091
Amenities: Chip and putt green, snack bar
Winter Texan Specials: $25 for 18 holes; Twilight starts at 2 p.m. for $18; members $75/month, doesn't include cart; yearly membership: $904 with the cart.
Long Island Village Golf Course
This gated community is located just across the Intracoastal Waterway via a swing bridge from Port Isabel and provides vacation rentals as well as permanent residences. And don't be fooled – just because it's a par-3 course doesn't mean you can leave some of your clubs back at the house. With the unpredictable wind – in both strength and direction – you may have to choose between three or four clubs. This is not a putt-putt course. In fact, some of the holes may be the toughest in South Texas. Of course, some holes are forgiving too but you'll never get bored of playing this beautifully designed and fun course. And you can't go wrong, ever, with the scenery.
Address: 33840 S. Garcia St., Port Isabel
Phone: (956) 943-7520
Description: 18-hole, par-53, par-3 course
Golf Pro: Karen Pike
Yardage: Red – 1,449
Amenities: Putting green, pro shop with gifts and a bar with draft beer
Winter Texan Specials: Non-renters $14 all day; Renters $12 all day
Rancho Viejo Resort and Country Club
Playing at Rancho Viejo is likened to taking a vacation at an exotic resort. With all of the amenities – including rentals for a short visit – this is the place for a staycation. A gorgeous pool with an outdoor bar, a restaurant with the highest quality of food and service, a wide arrangement of clothing and accessories in the pro shop... the list goes on. The course is “playable yet challenging, stretching over 6,800 yards from the back tees,” according to its website. The course, named El Diablo (the devil) is named so because the grapefruit trees that used to line the fairways made it so devilishly difficult to play. Today the fairways are lined with towering palms, tropical vegetation, and water hazards on nine of the holes.
Address: 1 Rancho Viejo Drive, Rancho Viejo
Phone: (956) 350-4000
Description: 18-hole, Par-71 for Men, Par-74 for Women
Golf Pro: Don Keen
Yardage: Red – 5,097; White – 5,313; Blue – 5,919; Gold – 6,434
Amenities: Rancho Viejo Resort & Country Club's practice facilities offer a full-length driving range, a large putting green and a bunkered chipping area perfect for a pre-round warm up or a great day of practice.
Winter Texan Specials: 9 holes for $48.26; 18 holes $69.71
River Bend Golf Course
Nestled along the banks of the Rio Grande and with magnificent three-year-old oak trees throughout the course, River Bend used to be one of the Valley's best kept secrets. It's not a secret anymore and is considered among the most beautiful courses in South Texas, not only with the river providing out of bounds in some areas but with challenging elevation changes and holes that will make you use more than just your driver and wedge to approach some of the best kept – and fastest – greens in the Rio Grande Valley.
Address: 4541 US-281, Brownsville
Phone: (956) 548-0192
Description: Par-72, 18 holes
Golf Pro: Eddie Medlin, GM
Yardage: Gold – 6,735; Blue 6,276; Whites 5,625; Reds 4,920
Amenities: putting green, snack bar, hot dogs, hamburgers, snacks
Winter Texan Specials: Memberships available; $36 regular; $30 mid-day; $20 after 1 p.m. through November
South Padre Island Golf Club
South Padre Island Golf Club has some of the most scenic holes in all of South Texas, overlooking the Laguna Madre. Don't get caught daydreaming there though, the layout is challenging, and the wind can make things even more challenging. The course has consistently worked on improving its cart paths, sand traps, natural beauty, and other areas in recent years. If you haven't played here recently, it's worth checking out again.
Address: 1 Golf House Road, Laguna Vista
Golf Pro: Nicolas Berbeo
GM: David Boughter
Phone: (956) 943-4653
Yardage: Gold – 4,079; Red – 5,200; white – 5,552; Blue – 6,291; Black – 6,931
Amenities: Practice facilities, range, putting green, new restaurant bar/grill, pro shop
Winter Texan Specials: Players membership card – $10 off every round starts Jan. 2021; Short-term memberships from three months to annual memberships are available.
Valley International Country Club
Both challenging yet comfortable, Valley International provides the beginning golfer as many challenges as the more experienced golfer. Perfectly self-described as a golf sanctuary, the peaceful surroundings combined with a difficult but beatable and rewarding layout, the four sets of tees are key in how you play your round and give even the lowest handicappers some big decisions to make – lay up or grip it and rip it? Risk and reward are premiums on this popular and 18-hole championship layout.
The course also has a nine-hole par-3 executive course (par-27 for the round) on the same property for those who want a change of pace or to practice their short game, where scoring is at a prime, and so is time.
Address: 301 McFadden, Brownsville
Phone: (956) 548-9199
Golf Pro: Kevin Sargent
Description: 18-hole, par-70
Yardage: White – 4,924; Black – 5,517; Blue – 6,130; Orange – 6,538
Amenities: Golf shop, practice green, bar & grill (limited times and menu)
Winter Texan Specials: Burger deal – cheeseburger, French fries and round of golf with cart, $29
We want to hear from you. Take our survey and tell us all about your favorite golf courses.