Wednesday, January 16, 2019
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21081212 Tony Butler Golf 08In last week’s edition of the Winter Texan Times, we announced a new golf competition. This is not a golf tournament, but it’s just as much fun to play. We are inviting all our Winter Texan duffers to try out several golf courses – perhaps ones they haven’t played before – then tell us which holes are their favorites. Golf Contest Poll.

So what’s the contest? We have prepared an online ballot where you can vote for your favorite golf hole (or holes – up to ten choices) in the Rio Grande Valley. Just go to www.wintertexantimes.com to cast your vote. Everyone who votes will be entered in a drawing for prizes, such as free rounds of golf at local golf courses. Entry deadline is December 31, 2018.

We will tally the votes and then announce the Top Ten Winter Texan Favorite Golf Holes.

This contest is only for public golf courses in the Rio Grande Valley, and maybe a private course or two that allow non-members to play as well.

Following is part two in our series about some of our favorite holes in the Valley. Check them out and see how they stack up against your favorites.

21081212 SharyGolfCourse holeShary Municipal Golf Course
2201 S. Mayberry St., Mission
(956) 580-8770

Shary Municipal Golf Course is a 27-hole golf course that is the number one tourist attraction for the City of Mission during the winter months (hint, hint – because of the loyal Winter Texan base). It is a well-laid out golf course that Director of Golf Mario Flores is constantly working – and succeeding – in making it a premier course.

The layout has its easy holes where you can grip it and rip it – but there are not too many of them. There are par 3s with distinct elevation changes, par 4s with sand and water that will deceptively come into play and shot-making holes all over the course.

No. 7 is one of those shot-making holes that most golfers try to swing away, driving for the hole. It's only 325 yards to the pin (on the straight and narrow), but you're going to have to clear at least 270 feet over a ball-eating lake and miss the palm trees strategically placed in your way to stop you from going that way (even though many still try). Even a great shot will leave you in some rough, with sand protecting the blind approach to the green (so why even try). The best bet is to play it safe and leave yourself about 120 yards out into what is now a friendly uphill green where your ball will stick and give you a shot at birdie (but it does feel good to clear that water).

No. 16 is only 395 yards and it's straight ahead. But you better hit it down the middle or an easy birdie will turn into a difficult bogey. The fairway is narrow. There's trouble to the right and sand protecting the green...especially, of course, to the right.

21081212 Tony Butler Golf 08Tony Butler Golf Course
2640 S M Street, Harlingen
(956) 216-5970

There are golf courses you must play when you visit certain places. Sometimes it may be because of a certain design, and sometimes it’s to play a storied course like Pine Lakes in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Not only does that course have Rolls Royce golf carts and servers who hand out clam chowder during the winter months at the turn between 9 and 10 or mimosas during the warmer months, but it's also the place where Sports Illustrated magazine was conceptualized on nothing but a napkin.

The Valley has its own storied hole at Tony Butler. No. 19 has been a starting hole since back in 1929 when the PGA would make a stop. Golfing greats such as Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan all made stops and started on this hole.

The hole isn't too long – just a 295-yard straightaway, par 4 that today can be hit in one big swing. There is a little dip in front of the green to make it a little more difficult to land on the not-so-forgiving elevated green. The hole is not too hard, not too easy and slants at an angle. But if you're into nostalgia, there's not a better hole in South Texas.

No. 9 is a 360-yard, par 4, dogleg left. The fairway is a rolling fairway, meaning if you can hit it far enough, there's a part that slopes downward and you can gain 20 or more yards on your tee shot. You second shot will have to be more strategic, flying into a two-tiered green that's rather tiny. According to Tony Butler Golf Pro Eddie Medlin “It's a tough hole, but it's cool.”

21081212 GOLF PHOTOS TREASURE HILLSTreasure Hills Golf Club
3009 N Augusta National Drive, Harlingen
(956) 365-3100

For some reason, there are a lot of golf courses in Harlingen – it's kind of strange actually – and sometimes Treasure Hills becomes the odd course out, but for the life of us we can't understand why.

As one of the most scenic courses in the Valley, with fairways that are designed to make you think through shots (yet, still just grip and rip for those brave folk), this may be the most underrated course in all South Texas.

Hole No. 14 is a 405-yard, par 4, and that's from the back tees. There's a reason for that – a lake protects the front of the green. There's no bouncing the ball up the fairway to get on this green. You've got to clear the water and stick it. The drive is key because you're going to want to leave yourself an approach shot where you can use your best club. Get your calculations correct and hit it down the middle and you're looking at a shot for birdie.

Another nice par 4 on this course is hole No. 4. This one is a little bit longer – 450 to be exact. The hole doglegs slightly to the right meaning you can cut off as much as you think. The recommendation is to not fool around with the lake on the left side of the tee box and just hit it straight – hey, shouldn't “hit it straight” be the best tip for every shot? If you get good length, you can fly in with a mid-iron and land on a decent-sized but tiered green.

21081212 Cottonwood Creek CC Hole 8 from mensTee PRCottonwood Creek Country Club
1001 S. Ed Carey Drive, Harlingen
(956) 428-7758

Beware of No. 5 at Cottonwood Creek Country Club. You may wonder why as you stand from the tee box. It just a straight shot – a 175-yard “punch” over a resaca that sits in front of it. “Be careful,” said one official from the club. “What people don't know is that there's a giant magnet in that resaca and more balls than you would think end up in there.”

Now, we know that magnets don't attract golf balls – but whatever is in that lake has been appealing to thousands of golf balls every year. In other words – take enough club or you will join the throngs of those who have dropped in.

Cottonwood is filled with deceptive holes. No. 7 is the shortest hole on the course. It may also be the toughest to figure out. You either have to swing hard with a high-degree wedge or cut down on a regular wedge. The wind can come at you from any angle – it can even shift while your ball is in mid-flight. This hole gives more fits to just about anyone than many holes in the Valley combined.

Golf Contest Poll.