Editor’s Note: These next three weeks we will be introducing some not so widely known golf courses. A few golf courses that you should try out if you have not already. Even with the abundance of golf courses in the Valley, there are a few that our Winter Texan readers seem to gravitate to.
We want to invite our readers to go try something new this season. Try a different golf course. See what another golf course offers. Just because they are a golf course you might not know as much about, does not mean they do not have something to offer to the golfer. We want to know if some of these courses are just as good as the more popular golf courses in the Valley.
So, over the next three weeks, we would like you to try out a new course, or two or three, and then let us know about your favorites in our golf course survey. Send in your ballot. This year we want to ask something extra. We would like to solicit additional feedback for our wrap up story. And if you would, attach a short note to your ballot, telling us why you voted the way you did.
We would love to hear your thoughts, your stories, and any duffers anecdotes you would like to share.
The Rio Grande Valley is dotted with an abundance of golf courses, from 9-hole par-3s to courses that provide 27 holes. There are country clubs, country club-like courses and just about everything that travels the golf spectrum.
Golfers find as much enjoyment on the Davids as they do on the Goliaths. Because on every course, the objective is the same — put the small, white ball into what sometimes seems like the smaller hole where the flag proudly stands.
And, of course, do not put the ball into the bigger holes, even though that seems like a fairly simple feat.
For courses such as Alamo Country Club or El Nino in Mission or Ebony Hills in Edinburg – just like everywhere – the true challenge is golfer versus himself or herself.
Curt James knows this well. The 2020 Star Awards Winter Texan Male Vocalist of the Year has played golf since his dad taught him at the age of 12 and he can be found regularly – sometimes twice a day – playing the 9-holes at Alamo Country Club, the self-proclaimed “Best Kept Secret in the Rio Grande Valley.” The course, which always is in great shape and tightly manicured, is one of the reasons he and his wife moved into the neighborhood, along with all the other activities that are provided – at least during a non-pandemic environment.
But even during the insanity caused by COVID-19, golf has kept many a person somewhat sane.
“It was the one activity we were able to do and maintain the social distancing,” James said. “We couldn't do so many of the activities, but we could play and follow the protocols and it was just great.”
Alamo Country Club is a short, 9-hole course. But do not be fooled just because it is short. It is narrow and if your best asset is that you can crush the golf ball, this course will force you to figure out other approaches.
“It's very narrow and you're playing out of bounds and in between houses every single hole,” James said. “It's not a matter of how far you can hit the ball. There are a couple of par-4s that are shorter than some par-3s that would make a great hole for a pro. But for us humans, they are great challenges. It all depends here on how aggressive you want to be.”
James, whose best score is a 3-under-par 32, there were a couple holes that quickly came to mind in regard to the challenge they bring to any golfer. One is the par-3 No. 5. It is a straight shot – except for one tall palm tree that has caused many a golfer to string together a few not-so-kind words after they hit their tee shot. Sometimes, it is harder to miss a target and so much easier to hit it. This clearly is the case here.
“You either have to go over it and it's only about 40 yards ahead of you so you have to get it up quickly,” he said. “If you go around to the left, there's sand. If you go around to the right, there's water. That tree causes a lot of debate, but it's still one of the cool holes.”
The other hole is a par-five where you have to play what James calls “target golf.” You have to hit your short shot off the tee, then hit your big shot on the second shot.”
The way the course is designed, it's just challenge after challenge – but if you hit the ball straight you'll have the chance to score well.”
And, no matter which course you play in the Upper Valley – from Cimarron to El Nino to Howling Trails or Shary Municipal and Palm View or Tierra Del Sol and Los Lagos, that's the ultimate goal – from tee to green, ball to hole (not the big holes) – is a good round. Just do not forget to bring your pencil (preferably with an eraser).
Alamo Country Club is a private club but does allow guests with a resident to play during certain times of the year.
Photo One: Sharyland Municipal Golf Course
Photo Two: Alamo Country Club
Photo Three: Alamo Country Club
Photo Four: Palmview Golf
Photo Five: The Club at Cimarron