After three weeks of voting, Winter Texans have told us who their favorite golf course is this year. Winter Texans were asked to participate in a golf course survey for the past several weeks in which they voted for their all-around favorite golf course, and their favorite golf course by region as well. A big thank you to those the participated. Here are the top three favorite overall golf courses.
LONG ISLAND VILLAGE, PORT ISABEL
Two years ago, Long Island Village made its first appearance as a Winter Texan favorite earning second place in the Lower Valley, finishing between two perennial favorites – River Bend and South Padre Island course.
Now, the little course that could hold David like power (yes, David as in David and Goliath), has worked its way up to the top of the charts as the Winter Texans overall favorite golf course. It beat out McAllen's Palm View Golf Course and Weslaco's Tierra Santa.
The course is an 18-hole par-3 course located in Port Isabel just across the Intracoastal Waterway. Hole distances range from 50 yards to 140 yards. But that 140 yards can feel like 170 or more since golfers are hitting into the wind.
Even No. 12 at only 50 yards can be a challenge with all 50 yards being over water. The course has water on 75 percent of the holes, including the signature hole, the 110-yard No. 8. Water follows the fairway along the right side and the green is tucked away behind it at the end.
The course is open to the public and has specials, like times when golfers pay one green fee and can play the entire day.
The Village, which is home to Winter Texans and locals alike, has a population of a little more than 1,000 residents.
But don't think it's too easy though. One resident wrote in a golf journal that it was the toughest golf course to play and that the No. 10 hole may be the single hardest hole in the Valley.
Long Island Village is located 33840 South Garcia in Port Isabel. The pro shop number is (956) 943-7520.
PALM VIEW GOLF COURSE, McALLEN
Carlos Espinosa was very curious. Here he was with one of the most beautifully laid out golf courses in the largest city in the Rio Grande Valley, but something didn't add up.
Numbers were drastically falling in terms of Winter Texans rounds and Espinosa, the director of golf for the city's course, couldn't figure out why.
“It makes you doubt your ability and wonder why. Where am I failing? Where is our staff failing?” Espinosa said. “Those were the things that drove me to make some changes more than anything.”
The changes have been received positively among the Winter Texans as they have voted Palm View as their second favorite course in the Rio Grande Valley.
One Winter Texan claimed she likes the fact that the course has a variety of distances from tee to green and she can use all her clubs. She especially has a likeness for No. 9, a hole with plenty of trouble approaching the green from the left side.
“It's humbling to hear comments like that,” Espinosa said. “I tell our customers that we are far from perfect, but we try to be and we are so thankful for them to choose us.”
Espinosa's curiosity led him to study what was happening, why their numbers had been falling for about 10 years. Sure, there are fewer rounds being played all across the nation regardless of age, but the numbers didn't make sense to him.
Espinosa said he took a deep look at what had been taking place and decided to go visit the parks and talk with the communities. “I got to know the customer better and identify what they wanted and implemented a program that would benefit them and us.”
What transpired was the end of a free fall and the beginning of a three-year upward trend that continues today.
Palm View is a par-72 course with a mid-range length of 5,779 yards from the middle tees but turns into a lengthy and challenging 6,771 yards from the back tees. While it has some fairly wide-open holes, it also has holes that will challenge how much you are willing to “go for it” for a better approach.
Palm View Golf Course is located at 2701 S Ware Rd., McAllen. Phone number is (956) 681-3444.
TIERRA SANTA GOLF COURSE, WESLACO
Tierra Santa Golf Club in Weslaco came in third place as Winter Texans' Favorite Golf Course Valleywide. Since the beginning of this contest, the course has managed to finish in the top three overall every year and won the overall favorite course for three straight years.
The course ranges in length from 5,300 to 7,100-plus yards
“We're proud of course,” course owner Ezequiel “Zeke” Reyna said. “We're thrilled our Winter Texans love us too.”
They'll have more things to love at Tierra Santa in the near future. Reyna indicated that the course is building a banquet center adjacent to the clubhouse and will be doing some major renovations to the dining and pro shop area.
Tierra Santa is known for the prettiest, and one of the most challenging closing holes in Texas. But it has a variety of hidden gems, including the split fairway No. 8 hole. A golfer can try to go over the water on the left side or be safe and go right – then still have to go over water for an approach shot into the green. So, basically, a golfer can find water on every shot on that hole.
There are four sets of tees, ranging from 5,300 to 7,100-plus yards. With 14 lakes, and plenty of strategically placed sand traps, Tierra Santa provides plenty of challenges for all levels of golfer.
The course is located at 1901 Club de Amistad, Weslaco. Phone number is (956) 973-1811.