When Myra and I arrived in the beautiful Monte Vista Historical District San Antonio, Texas, on Friday, November 8th for our 4 day stay, one of our most anticipated planned outings was playing golf at La Cantera Resort and Spa. With a number of excellent choices for playing golf, San Antonio is now one of the hottest golf destinations in the US. I didn’t have to flip a coin or play rock, paper, scissors to decide.
La Cantera is home to two very popular and highly regarded courses; The Palmer and The Resort. The courses and the resort have received numerous accolades not only on a state level, but also nationally. They are also managed under the Troon Management banner which is usually the best rubber stamp for me to ensure a quality course and well-run operation.
The evening we arrived the talk of the town, at least on the local TV stations, was the dreaded Arctic front that had arrived from the north. It lasted about as long as a it takes a kid to eat a cookie. We awoke to a beautiful, bright, sunny morning and made the short 20-minute convenient drive northward to La Cantera.
The setting of the Palmer course, our Saturday venue, is in a very secluded section of what is called Texas hill country. The drive into the course is up the hill on a short winding road. The clubhouse is beautifully decorated and provides a central focal point that can be seen from numerous vantage points on the course. Once you pull up to the bag drop and park your vehicle, you are in an environment which is void of anything but nature and the golf course.
The outside attendants, both Derek and Isiah, were very helpful and took our clubs away swiftly and loaded them onto a power cart. We made our way into the pro shop and were greeted by Director of Golf, Aaron Green, who took a few minutes to introduce us to key staff members and also give me some updates on the Palmer course. From the pro shop we could look out the window and see both the 9th and 18th green as well as a ridge containing golf holes in the distance.
Aaron pointed out that a bunker refurbishment is in the final planning stages on the course which is now 18 years old. We left ourselves 20 minutes to warm up and headed up through the dense vegetation that prevails throughout the course. The driving range is very well maintained with huge pyramids of balls and an adjacent elevated putting green with a nice, high lipped bunker.
Starter Bob Price drove up to kindly offer us the opportunity to tee off 10 minutes early, but we needed to test the greens a little more. On the way to the first tee we noticed that there was a nice little practice putting green where I would highly suggest you make more than just a few putts. The greens are a very healthy, thick Bermuda grass, but like many resort courses are quite slow. My advice is to hit at least 20 long putts as you may be prone to leaving lag putts far too short. When we pulled up to the first tee not only were we greeted by Bob the starter, but 8 twosomes heading out as a group. As we were on time and the eager group a little early, Bob announced to all of us at the same time the various aspects of playing this great course. There is no out of bounds anywhere on the course as all balls hit out of play and lost are treated as lateral hazards. The goal of the course is the 4 hour and 15-minute round and there are ample water stations and restrooms on the course. With a gallery of almost 20 golfers I stepped up to the tee, took a deep breath and launched a beauty right down the middle. A courteous golf clap from a few on the onlookers ensued accompanied by a resounding “I’ll take him” by one of the guys.
Myra with an equal amount of pressure and onlookers moved up to the forward tees and clipped a real beauty herself. We were off and our match was on. The course was far more demanding than the wide-open Contraband Bayou course from 2 days before and demanded strict concentration. There were a number of blind, uphill tee shots, small greens and appealing rock outcroppings on the course. Many of the rides from greens to tees meander through beautiful sections of cypress and oak trees. The Par 3 – 4th hole, the signature hole, over the water is incredible and is just the tip of the iceberg. The remote, serene setting combined with an outstanding array of spectacular holes.
Both finishing holes 9 and 18 are dramatic and scintillating to play. Hole 9 meanders from an elevated tee to the fairway below and then climbs slowly to a very well protected green. Hole 18 has one of the most dramatic downhill approach shots of any par 4 laying beneath the rising clubhouse. In between are really fun Par 3’s, some superb Par 5’s and demanding Par 4’s. As you make the turn, you not only climb upward to the highest point on the course you are also rewarded with a breathtaking view of the valley below and across to the beautiful La Cantera Resort and Spa. This match went to me – 3 and 2 so I finally got one back on Myra. Yet it was closer than it appeared.
With no one in front of us we worked our way around this testing and interesting layout in under 4 hours. A most rewarding day of golf on this San Antonio gem.
(210) 558 2365 www.lacanteraglfclub.com