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TOPIC: Lajitas Golf Resort - And You Thought that Ram’s Hill was in the Middle of Nowhere!!

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dconnally
Lajitas Golf Resort - And You Thought that Ram’s Hill was in the Middle of Nowhere!!

GK Event: Played in a GK Event GK Cup: Past & Current Champions of The GK Cup

Member Since:
    October 6, 2003


Favorite Golfer:
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Wednesday April 18, 2018 10:11 PM
We recently took a driving trip to Texas to visit with family we hadn’t seen in a while (my wife’s parents both turned 90 this year) and out of concern for the health of my wife’s older brother, who went into the hospital for prostate cancer surgery and came out with a severe kidney infection and battling some E. coli superbug! We were glad to see on our arrival that he was out of the hospital and recovering, although he lost 25 pounds during the ordeal. Took a couple of weeks touring the state to see relatives in Austin, Waco, San Antonio, and the Houston area. Those 3 weeks were the windiest I can ever remember in Texas, with generally 15-20 mph all day every day, except the four days of the Houston Open, when apparently someone turned off the wind machine on Thursday morning, then turned it back on that Sunday evening! Weird!

On the way back, I managed to convince the wife to take a day to play a course I had been reading about for several years. It’s not just out of the way – it’s almost off the map out of the way. “Here there be dragons!!”

First you stop in Alpine, Texas – that’s 350 miles west of San Antonio and 220 miles east of El Paso. Just take Highway 67 south from I-10 and Fort Stockton – you know where that is, right?! From Alpine, it’s another 90 miles straight south across increasingly barren landscapes to the Rio Grande, the border with Mexico. The drive starts out looking like California east of Ramona, and then goes more barren from there. You’ll go through the tiny hamlet of Terlingua, where they have a renowned chili cookoff once a year – I’m not sure why. With a stated population of 57, I don’t know where all those chili enthusiasts stay when the cookoff festivities are going on. The town was historically a mining town, and the whole rocky and dusty landscape there looks like the earth vomited up its entrails and left them lying on the ground. The mines played out long ago. Oh, yes - no cellphone service once you get 5 miles south of Alpine!

At the end you’ll find the resort town of Lajitas, smack up against the Rio Grande, with its own airport and a family-oriented resort that offers horseback riding, hiking, rafting, and outdoor pursuits. And a Lanny Wadkins golf course – Black Jack’s Crossing. Black Jack's Crossing was built in 2011 after the previous Ambush at Lajitas golf course washed away in 2008, the result of a "2000-year flood" to come to this part of Texas. About 100 years ago, this was the site of skirmishes between Pancho Villa and General John "Black Jack" Pershing. The course plays along the river and beneath some dramatic landscapes.



To the east is Big Bend National Park; to the west is Big Bend Ranch State Park. Who picks THIS place for a family resort? Who builds a golf course here and expects to make a go of it?

At least your AT&T service works at the resort.

The course itself is interesting and challenging. If I was expecting Ram’s Hill conditions I was disappointed – they had punched and sanded the greens a week earlier, so they were fairly slow and bumpy, especially early on when they were still pretty wet. Greens had a lot of internal movement and many had slopes, tiers, drop-offs, and severe false fronts, so playing these greens when they are firm and fast would be a real challenge. After the punching and watering they were fairly soft and receptive, and I saw a number of unrepaired marks from earlier players.

Many fairway areas had also been punched or verticut, and the course was keeping a lot of water on them, so my low drives were dying an early death. I played the Maroon tees (2nd longest; 6,858/71.9/126 – the Gold tees looked a little too tame; 6,111/68.6/120). I even ran through scattered sloppy wet areas in some fairways. The fairway turf was pretty consistent but was thin, and the ball sat tight. The fairways roll and heave and there are few level lies and lots of unfilled divots. I saw more bare areas in the fairways on the front side as the course played up into the adjacent hills.

Most of the fairways are pretty wide, in keeping with the resort vibe, and there’s not that much rough to speak of lining the grassed areas. Anything well offline is in “sacrificial club” territory out into the rocky desert areas. Tees were frequently not that level, with many being sloped to the back of a righthanded player. I didn’t see much divot damage on the tees – there was no mix container on par-3 tees. Sand was the best-conditioned aspect of the course – coarse but loose, with good depth and very playable and consistent.

I was sent off on #10 around 11:45am as the shop said they had been watering on the front nine that morning. The back nine is closer to the river and has a more traditional look. The front nine plays up and back into the adjacent hills and is more dramatic and challenging, with severe drops off tees, several forced carries over an artificial creek meandering through several holes, and many narrow angles and target landing areas.



Here’s the par-3 17th hole, with the tee shot over the river to the left. That’s the resort on the left in the distance.

There are some helpful amenities that make play more comfortable. Bottled water is on the cart and in coolers at the bathrooms. There was a ball washer/club cleaner on the cart, and a good quality GPS; it is interactive, but provided yardages to COG only, + F/B yardage. There was a small grass range with unlimited balls. The large putting green had rolls and undulations similar to on-course greens and had also been punched/sanded.

This is another one of those instances when you ask yourself how the heck this makes sense from a business standpoint. The course and resort seem to be geared towards attracting group business from Dallas and Houston, etc. – hence the airport to allow charter flights easy access. And family groups looking for a unique getaway. It’s obviously not going to get enough local support or “drive-by” business! You’ve got to WANT to go there.

Highlights of the round:

#7 is an entire redan hole; a 420-yard par-4. The downhill tee shot with the fairway sloping to the left, and then the approach wraps left like a shepherd’s crook around a steep gorge. A shot played in from the fairway above the green to the right will run on, but with the green sloping steeply right-to-left, if the approach is too hot you can run across the green back into that gorge.

#8 is a jaw-dropping par 5 dogleg right that plunges 130 feet down to the fairway before turning around a rock knob to a multi-level green.

#12 is a shorter dogleg right par-4 with the approach shot uphill into a sheltered box canyon.



#13 (above), a par 3 with stunning view drops 80 feet to an island green in a sea of desert and rock.

The entire course could use two or three consecutive good growing seasons to be in the league of Ram’s Hill. If you are in the area, a recommended play.
REPLY
Remember, we could be at work!!
 Message #87919
sngernz
RE: Lajitas Golf Resort - And You Thought that Ram’s Hill was in the Middle of Nowhere!!

GK Event: Played in a GK Event

Member Since:
    January 24, 2005


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Thursday April 19, 2018 5:43 AM
Thanks for the interesting read, Dave.

QUOTED  If you are in the area, a recommended play.

Doubtful that will happen in my lifetime
REPLY
 Message #87921 - This was a reply to message #87919
dconnally
RE: Lajitas Golf Resort - And You Thought that Ram’s Hill was in the Middle of Nowhere!!

GK Event: Played in a GK Event GK Cup: Past & Current Champions of The GK Cup

Member Since:
    October 6, 2003


Favorite Golfer:
    Arnie
Favorite Golf Course:
    Oak Quarry; Tobiano


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Thursday April 19, 2018 10:23 AM
QUOTED  Doubtful that will happen in my lifetime


What, Stew, no chili cookoff??!
REPLY
Remember, we could be at work!!
 Message #87924 - This was a reply to message #87921
JohnnyGK
RE: Lajitas Golf Resort - And You Thought that Ram’s Hill was in the Middle of Nowhere!!

JohnnyGK

GK Event: Played in a GK Event

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    December 30, 2002


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Tuesday May 1, 2018 5:03 PM
Wow, great recap David!

Thanks!
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GK is now on FACEBOOK! CLICK HERE and become a fan!
 Message #88053 - This was a reply to message #87919
grantar2
RE: Lajitas Golf Resort - And You Thought that Ram’s Hill was in the Middle of Nowhere!!
GK Event: Played in a GK Event

Member Since:
    July 14, 2015


Favorite Golfer:
    Danny Lee
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Tuesday May 1, 2018 5:22 PM
First - if you have video, a lot of photo's or both, you should stitch them together with text or voice over and give them to Johnny to post on the GK YouTube Channel.

Since you seem very familiar with Texas if you were going to retire there (not work) and wanted to play golf and fish, where in the state would you choose?
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 Message #88054 - This was a reply to message #88053
dconnally
RE: Lajitas Golf Resort - And You Thought that Ram’s Hill was in the Middle of Nowhere!!

GK Event: Played in a GK Event GK Cup: Past & Current Champions of The GK Cup

Member Since:
    October 6, 2003


Favorite Golfer:
    Arnie
Favorite Golf Course:
    Oak Quarry; Tobiano


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Tuesday May 1, 2018 9:06 PM
Austin area - good golf, nearby lakes and rivers, best of a number of potential weather regimes, least lunatic politics.

Unfort, like Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas, recent growth in Austin has burst past the road system capacity and they'll never catch up.

Only took a few photos and no video. You'll have to be satisfied with the witty and insightful review above.
REPLY
Remember, we could be at work!!
 Message #88061 - This was a reply to message #88054
dangerousbri
RE: Lajitas Golf Resort - And You Thought that Ram’s Hill was in the Middle of Nowhere!!
GK Event: Played in a GK Event

Member Since:
    November 3, 2015


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Wednesday May 2, 2018 12:31 PM
I went down here a few years ago. Big Bend National Park is right here. Pretty stunning place if it's not too hot. Also get to be friendly with the border patrol as parts of the trails are right on the Rio Grande and they will come down out of nowhere to check up on you.

Lajitas and Terlingua are between the national park and state park. Best place to stay is at this resort. The cheaper place to stay is Terlingua. Locals are friendly. Funny thing about Lajitas is that they actually elected a goat as the mayor. They put the goat on the main street and everyone would buy beer and feed the goat. It would pick the bottle up and drink all the beer. Sadly the goat is no longer alive but is at the bar in Terlingua with a beer in it's mouth for posterity.
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 Message #88064 - This was a reply to message #87919

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