Day two playing golf at the beautiful La Cantera Resort and Spa saw us teeing it up on The Resort Course, the former home of the PGA Tours’ Texas Open.
Like many of the resorts where we’ve been fortunate enough to golf, such as Silverado in Napa, CA, Suncadia in Cle-Elum, WA, Mission Hills in Palm Springs, CA and Jekyll Island GA, this one contains two 18-hole golf courses. Like those fine resorts, The Palmer and The Resort courses at La Cantera have their obvious similarities. The same type of soil to work with, topography, maintenance practices and customer service are the usual constants. Fortunately for the resort guests, members and the more infrequent daily fee players that’s usually where the similarities cease. First of all, like Palmetto Dunes in Hilton Head, the courses are typically designed by 2 different design teams. So, in some cases one layout might have numerous deep faced bunkers, small greens and tight fairways and the other numerous water hazards and ponds, wide landing areas and huge two and three tiered greens.
At La Cantera, The Resort Course is as Myra put it “more resorty ”. That is to say, it’s a little more forgiving than the very challenging Palmer Course. Resort guests typically have invested in relaxation, comfort and a stress-free stay which means they want to walk off a golf course with a feel-good factor. Now don’t get me wrong, The Resort Course has some very dynamic and challenging holes. After all you don’t host a PGA tour event for more than a decade on a course that’s a pushover.
You begin with pulling up to the bag drop where the parking lot is a mere few yards away. As you enter the white washed, stucco clubhouse you are awed by the stunning interior décor. Large ropes dangle from a wall with various trophies tied and intermingled among them.
The pro shop where we were greeted by Tournament Coordinator Eric Veliz is very stylish and spacious. We checked in on this 76F sunny day and headed out the back door down the stairs to the awaiting range and practice greens very close by. Jerry, one of the friendly starters/players assistants, informed us that no one was teeing off for 40 minutes and we could go early if we wished. After 25 minutes of warming up we were ready and eager to play so we headed to the first tee. This time it was Joe who gave us an overview of playing the course and some basic highlights to playing it.
The view down the fairway on the Par 5 first hole was a very inviting one and it was certainly more forgiving than the tighter and tougher Palmer Course from the day before. We continued our new “match play” competition and when I suggested a token $1 wager Myra scoffed and said, “No sweetie, make it $5”. Game on. The course is really exciting to play and in excellent shape. The new bunker remediation is completed and looks fantastic. All the bunkers are very playable and we would know as we landed in a couple.
The greens were just a notch quicker than the day before which meant that between us we rolled in many putts. I could list more than a half dozen great holes in detail. The short but tricky Par 4 2nd dogleg right which Myra and I both parred is a beaut. The Par 4 7th with the shrieks of fear and excitement from the adjacent amusement park rides echoing towards the elevated tee is incredible. The back nine starts with a long straight tree lined Par 5 that climbs some 40 feet upward to the green. A good drive, 4 hybrid and a wedge to 30 feet set me up for a solid right to left birdie putt that just snuck in.
Two holes later is the best hole on the course and singularly one of the most dramatic and exciting Par 4’s in the US. As this area of Texas has an abundance of limestone, it provided a very intense 10-foot-high wall that ran along the left side of the fairway. The green sits over a small gorge that most be carried to a green that has bunkers in behind it. It was on this hole I knew I was in trouble when Myra from 100 yards out nailed a perfect shot onto the green over the gorge that would have had players of all skill levels shaking in their Footjoys.
The following short downhill Par 3 secured her second par and I quickly went from 1 down to 3 down and the end was nigh. In spite of the soon to be concession on the 16th green and another match play loss the day was a total success. The well treed course with its various joyous golf holes is fairly undulating but does not have the blind tee shots that permeate many holes on its sister the course, The Palmer. One of the most impressive features that doesn’t really affect your score, but lifts your mood are the unique hole markers. They are large limestone rocks that have been carved into beautiful creations with large black painted numbers on them.
Oddly enough I scored the exact same score of 43/43 = 86 on both days. Myra’s 102 was just as consistent with two 51’s for a very commendable 102, net 70. The recent upgrades on the course, the stunning clubhouse and excellent practice area coupled with extremely friendly service from the bag drop team to the pro shop and starter crew are very memorable.
La Cantera’s very high national rating and recognition from leading industry magazines is further endorsed by Myra and me who are frequent reviewers of top courses scattered all over the US. Add it to your golf bucket list, you’ll be glad you did.