Monday, October 25, 2021
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20201216 long island villageGolf is an experience

Sure, there are nine or 18 holes to play, a challenge in itself. But there is so much more than just the fairways, greens and actual game – even though that’s what draws people to the course.

But when one goes out to hit the fairways, there is usually a ritual that takes place. Some people arrive early, grab some breakfast, hit the putting green or the driving range and then start their round. Others will just hang back in the clubhouse and spend a day just putting, chipping, eating, watching television, and chatting with other golfers as they begin, or put an end, to their ritual, which oftentimes includes a burger or nachos and a cold adult beverage – maybe more than one to either celebrate a good round or to try and forget a bad round.20201216 spi golf

In any case, while the round is the feature presentation, it is not the only thing. It is like going to a movie – sure, the flick is the reason you’re there, but it’s the popcorn, candy, pizza, beverage…. and the previews or behind the scenes clips, that complete the movie experience.

Winston Churchill once said, "Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose."

Readers and golfers from across the Rio Grande Valley participated in the Winter Texan Times “Favorites” golf contest, to see what they enjoyed – golf and not golf – at courses across South Texas. We found out that there were a lot of other enjoyable aspects of a round that are necessary to complete a day at the golf course.

A few years ago, Long Island Village was not even a blip on many golfers’ radar screens. In recent years, however, the tiny golf course that could has become the tiny golf course that can, and its popularity has soared. Golfers are truly passionate about this course, located at 900 S. Garcia St. in Port Isabel.

The course is an 18-hole par-3 course that consists of holes ranging from 44 to 146 yards, with most holes being less than 100 yards. The design incorporates a few water hazards, and the course is more than just a solid challenge when the wind is blowing off the Gulf. That’s when Long Island Village is at its best, and most unpredictable.

One reviewer wrote “It is the toughest par three course I have ever played! Lots of water and trick shots. It will really improve your short game.” Others mentioned how friendly of a staff the course has.

Long Island Village dominated the voting for best of, winning Favorite Hole (Number 7), Favorite Amenities (Its clubhouse), Favorite putting green, pro shop, golf pro, 19th hole and menu item.

So, if you still do not know much about Long Island Village you at least know there is a lot to know about it.

The 71-yard hole number 7 sounds simple, but it is not. Those 71 yards could play like 40, but more likely could play like 140 – or more. Combined with a scenic view, golfers said this was their favorite hole in the Rio Grande Valley, followed by the 158-yard island par-3, No. 17 hole at Riverbend Golf Course in Brownsville and the 335-yard dogleg right No. 5 at South Padre Island Golf Course, a hole with water all along its right side.

Clearly those who go to the local courses have their favorite clubhouses and staff in the Rio Grande Valley, emphasizing how important those amenities are. Following Long Island Village was Tierra Del Sol in Pharr and Palm View Golf Course in McAllen, two municipal courses that have stayed on top of every aspect of their course, especially in the past six to eight years. Playing golf at any of those courses is like getting the best of public and country club-like courses every time you arrive.

Tierra Del Sol, which has promoted its breakfast as one of the best in the RGV golf scene, received justification by being named an honorable mention along with the clubhouse sandwich at Tierra Santa in Weslaco. The nachos at Long Island, however, dominated the culinary scene among voters. This was a popular category, confirming how much the total experience matters to a day on the golf course as people also enjoyed hamburgers and drinks at multiple sites.

Getting a little more personal with the contest Marilyn Anderson at Stuart Place in Harlingen and Grant Lewis at Long Island Village, were named favorite golf pros, another key category in the complete golf experience.

South Padre Island, which is climbing back toward its distinction as one of the most elite golf courses in South Texas, was also among the favorites in multiple categories, winning favorite driving range, followed by Palm View’s lighted driving range and Shary Municipal Course’s range. SPI also received honorable mention nods for favorite putting green, favorite pro shop and favorite 19th hole, thus filling out categories that complete a full golf experience.

Shary Municipal Golf Course in Mission and Stuart Place also received honorable mentions, behind Long Island Village, when it came to favorite 19th holes. And what better way to end a round of golf than at the 19th hole, sharing the good, the bad and everything else about the full experience of a day at the golf course.

Because, as Hall of Fame golfer Chi-Chi Rodriguez once said, “Golf is the most fun you can have without taking your clothes off."