Sunday, July 22, 2018
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20170208 GOLF PHOTOS Howling TrailsAround most of the country, golf takes some time off during the wintertime. When those months reach the Rio Grande Valley, however, golf is in full swing.
Golf is a year-round sport in the Rio Grande Valley, and Winter Texans are finding plenty of time to enjoy the links.

“I love being able to play golf all year round – that and softball,” said David Clark, from Manitoba, Canada. “It especially beats the alternative – shoveling snow and staying indoors all the time.”

20170208 GOLF PHOTOS LIV AD PICWith an average high temperature of 79, 71, 70 and 74 in November, December, January and February, Winter Texans can choose from nearly 20 courses in Hidalgo and Cameron counties. As an example, the same month's average high temperatures in Ames, Iowa are 45, 31, 27 and 34. The record lows for Ames, just so you can see where the temperatures can potentially go, are -7, -24, -26 and -28 for those months.

Despite not having the variety in elevation, there are several different types of golf courses, and challenge levels, for golfers to choose from. Three courses, Howling Trails in La Joya, Shary Municipal in Mission and Tony Butler in Harlingen are home to 27 holes, where golfers can play 1-18 or just decide to go out for nine and play the final holes, 19-27.

20170208 GOLF PHOTOS TIERRA DEL SOL islandHowling Trails and Shary are mostly flat but their layout and various tee boxes give golfers the option to choose how much of a challenge they would like. The courses, however, play strategically and keeping the ball up the wide and friendly fairways is the ultimate choice. But don't be fooled. While driving by the course it may look wide open and simple to play, it has enough holes where you need to hit a “golf shot” instead of just gripping and ripping it.

Tony Butler has a few more challenging holes but the course, one of the oldest in the Valley, meanders through the natural South Texas terrain and is extremely easy to walk. The 18-hole course is a championship layout measuring 6,400 yards (par 71) featuring Champions Ultra-Dwarf Bermuda greens. The 9-hole course is a shorter course measuring 2,600 yards (par 35) with newly renovated Emerald Zoysia greens.

Winter Texans are enjoying golf at a growing pace in the Rio Grande Valley.

20170208 GOLF PHOTOS Brownsville Golf Center 1st Tee Winter Texans“There has been a definite increase, even with some bad weather this year,” said Carlos Espinosa, director of golf for McAllen's municipal course. “Plus we have had some great compliments on the new greens that we have put in. Golfers see when you invest back into your course, and both the locals and the Winter Texans have noticed that and appreciate it.”

Winter Texans may decide they want a little more of a challenge and choose a course like Los Lagos, with its numerous moguls, doglegs and tilted fairways that seem to lean toward all of the water hazards. Plus, there's always the South Texas wind, which is prevalent on this Edinburg public course. Another challenging – and beautiful course is Tierra Santa in Weslaco, which is known for maybe the nicest finishing holes in the Rio Grande Valley. Golfers can choose to go over a small lake and hope for a reward. Pin placement will definitely make you think about this hole before attacking it.

20170208 GOLF PHOTOS PALMVIEW HOLE 03Some Winter Texan communities have their own golf course, like Adobe Wells in McAllen with an 18-hole, par-3 course or Llano Grande Resort in Mercedes with a full 18-hole course that measures from 5,293 yards to 6,781 yards at the tips and includes four holes that are more than 500 yards long, including the finishing No. 18 at 554 yards from the tips. Long Island Village, a gated community located just across the Intracoastal Waterway via a swing bridge from Port Isabel. It has maybe the shortest hole in the Valley – a 50-yard par-3. The shot has to carry the full 50 yards and chances are the club selection will be close to what someone uses for 110 yards

“You need accurate shots out here,” said Garry Stebbins, who has lived at Long Island Village for 10 years and is from Indiana. “It’s a beautiful par-3, 18-hole course, but don’t let the yardage make you think it’s easy. Our signature hole is 140 yards, but it’s more like 170-180 with the wind.”

20170208 GOLF PHOTOS Tony Butlerpic 2Brownsville Golf Center is that city's municipal golf course and offers a variety of Winter Texan specials, and some of the most moderate prices across the Valley.

But there are more courses to attack – from South Padre Island Golf Club and its beautiful background of the Laguna Madre on some holes to the recently renovated Tierra del Sol in Pharr that makes it a priority to take care of its Winter Texans. Golf in the Rio Grande Valley provides good prices, better Winter Texan specials and the best winter weather any golfer could want – especially if that golfer is from Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska....

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