First impressions can mean a lot, set within the right context. J.K Rowling said, “A good first impression can work wonders,” while Daniel Handler has a completely different take and said, “I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.”
However you view first or early impressions and whether they make a difference on you, they remain something that, as Charles Swindoll said, “never have a second chance.”
The following is a look at some of the first impressions provided by Lower Valley golf courses. Don’t forget to vote for your favorites by December 7.
Brownsville Golf Center
1800 W. San Marcelo Blvd, Brownsville
Brownsville Golf Center has prided itself for a long time as the golf course that gives the most bang for the buck.
It’s true that the rates are among the best in the Rio Grande Valley, but don’t let that sway you into a comfort zone, meaning everything is easy here.
It’s a well-laid out golf course with its own bag of tricks. It’s fairly open and the wind will at times dance with your ball. But it’s a great place to play at whatever skill level one is at. It has holes that make the “pound-my-chest” golfer have to think and decide at times how much should I cut off, should I go for it, or just lay up one or another.
It has plenty of forgiveness for the new, lower-skilled golfer just looking for a nice day out. That’s what makes it so attractive, its appeal to the masses. And that is what this municipal golf course has vowed to be and remains so.
Long Island Village
950 S. Garcia St., Port Isabel
Driving across the bridge and intercoastal waterway is a simple joy in itself. When it calls itself a village, it’s totally accurate – a small clan of friendly, golf crazed folks with a course that plays nothing like people’s first impression. That’s an immediate wake-up call.
Even though it’s a par-3 course, it plays like something else. The challenges are many and immense – but there’s something about it that’s exciting and invigorating. Golfers talk about going up or down 3-4 clubs based on the ever-present and sometimes gusting wind. One golfer reviewed it and wrote that it was the toughest course he ever played… that’s saying a lot.
But there’s no doubt it’s fun and the challenge is incredibly inviting for all levels. One has to experience this golf course at least once
Rancho Viejo Resort and Country Club
1 Rancho Viejo Dr., Rancho Viejo, Texas
As one drives along the expressway and notices the “golf ball in the sky” that marks the presence of Rancho Viejo Golf and Country Club, there is more of a sense of a “tourist trap” than anything else.
Once one reaches that destination, it’s anything but a trap – it’s more of a tourist’s dream come true. There’s nothing about this property – which includes mouth-watering food from its restaurant, beautiful rental facilities for a nice, long stay and all the amenities needed for golf (oh, and a wonderful outdoor service bar…
terrific). It’s a one-stop shop and can be stopped at for a day, or a week or longer.
Oh, and then there’s the golf course. The course, which already had a great layout that challenged golfers with risk-or-reward style golf, has improved steadily during the past few years. It’s tantalizing, refreshing and relaxing. But it also is a challenge for the golfers' skills and minds, so don’t get too relaxed.
River Bend Resort & Golf Club
4541 US 281, Brownsville
The biggest impression one might leave after a round at this scenic golf course, nestled within the River Bend community, is that every time out it seems like a different course.
The tees and holes are strategically set up so where every shot could end up is coming from a different angle. The course has enough elevation changes and hazards to make it seem brand new every time.
No. 17, a 220-yard par-3 along the levy is a perfect example. The setup is a beautiful view (or views) and can range in level of difficulty based on which tees it’s played from and how the wind is blowing – and from where.
The hills (yes, you read that right) provide a unique challenge to a mostly hill-less Valley when it comes to golf.
The 397-yard par-4 forces a golfer to come from different angles off the tee box and have to prepare for a semi-grand elevation change, leaving golfers more often than not a blind shot going into the green. If you hit too close to the right, you won’t be able to hit over the magnificent South Oaks on this magnificent course and club.
South Padre Island
1 Golf House Road, Laguna Vista
If someone told a golfer at South Padre Island Golf Course that they had to play holes No. 3 and 4 nine times apiece, nobody would mind one bit.
That’s how breathtaking the view is from those two holes.
The course’s signature hole, a not-very-long par-3 is the beauty pageant winner of South Texas. A small lake starts up behind the tee, runs down the side, snakes its way across the fairway between tee and green that runs back into the bay.
Standing on the tee, however, is the view of views.
“It’s the island with all the condos and hotels,” said director of golf Jack Blundell. “You see it all. Boats going by, fishermen, the beautiful waterway and the massive bridge on the right-hand side. The hole is just built for that view.”
That view has also been the site of many wedding photos.
But it’s not over yet. The par-5 No. 4 is a perfect follow-up. Waters sits to the right and once a golfer realizes he’s playing golf and gets to the green, the view is once again amazing with the island, the peninsula and Holly Beach.
“You see all that,” Blundell said. “It’s just a magnificent view.
“And, it’s a lot of fun to play.”
Valley International Country Club
301 McFadden Dr., Brownsville
As attendance dropped nationwide on golf courses around the country, instead of following the norm, VICC created a plan to increase the golfing experience for its residents and visitors.
The results have been obvious. The course has been maintained like a beautiful garden, paying attention to the greens, fairways and vegetation all over the course.
But it has been more than just the course that has seen a lot of tender, loving care. The pro shop, once kind of barren, has been stocked with apparel and accessories, the dining room is lovely and the food, well, the food has been exquisite.
From the moment one parks and walks through the main building, there’s something peaceful about this course – even on a bad day. It seems no matter what type of round you have had here, you leave with a good impression and, because we all know golfers hit at least one great shot around, you’ll be back for more of the total experience.