About 45 minutes west of the airport you’ll find one of the great resort destinations in the American Southwest. Horseshoe Bay has four excellent golf courses, a modern hotel and conference center, access to Lake LBJ and some wonderful dining experiences. (It might be the only opportunity you’ll ever get to enjoy chicken fried lobster. And it was marvelous.) There’s even a private air strip, if you need it.
There are a trio of Robert Trent Jones Sr. courses that each have their own unique characteristics – Slick Rock, Apple Rock and Ram Rock – and a Jack Nicklaus signature course called Summit Rock that has quickly vaulted into the list of top 50 golf courses in Texas.
Slick Rock is the original course that opened in 1972 and was renovated in 2016, when the greens and the irrigation system were upgraded. Slick Rock is most memorable for its “Million Dollar Hole,” an interesting par 4 that plays over a waterfall. The cart path on the famed 14th hole winds around the tee box and players drive between the waterfall, so you’ll want to stop and snap a photo in midstream. It’s just one instance of the granite outcroppings that can be seen throughout the round. It is one of the most photographed holes in Texas.
Apple Rock opened in 1985 and was named best new resort course in the country by Golf Digest, and renovated in 2019. It features the highest and most scenic land on the resort. The view from the 10th hole is stunning as the elevated tee plays downhill toward Lake LBJ. The 12th is a par 3 that plays across a portion of the lake and ranked among the most scenic in the state.
The Ram Rock course, which opened in 1981 and was renovated in 2018, is considered the most challenging of the three Jones designs. The fairways are narrower, includes 59 bunkers an brings water into play on 10 holes, including the signature par-3 fourth hole that plays to an island green. The course has hosted the Texas State Open.
Summit Rock, which opened in 2012, is easily the crown jewel of the four. This is a Nicklaus course that you’ll enjoy playing. It is one of the finest courses in Texas. The first couple of holes are flat, then the terrain elevations begin. The view from the tee box on the third hole is spectacular. Nicklaus has crafted a wonderful course that is quite distinctive. And, if you play the proper set of tees, it will provide an enjoyable afternoon. Summit Rock is more than worthy of its accolades.
Everything is first class at Summit Rock, from the leather ball bags on the practice tee to the two stocked-up comfort stations that have everything you’ll need to make the day better – from soft drinks and water to crackers and candy. There are even ice cream sandwiches in a freezer guaranteed to make you forget about that bogey.
And just for fun – or for a few shekels if you like some skin in the game – there is an 18-hole Whitewater putting course. It’s a par 72, 18-hole course with zoysia grass that has bunkers and water hazards. Don’t mistake it for any easy afternoon or evening. The kids will love, but so will the grownups.
If you get a chance, stop in for a lesson from Bobby Steiner, the resort’s director of instruction. Steiner keeps things simple and easy-to-understand. He’s written “Golf’s Gift: A Lifetime of Lessons” about his unconventional journey – and his non-traditional mentors — to becoming a golf professional and his “Short Game Mastery” booklet is fun of practice games designed to improve your score. Steiner is an engaging guy that has never met a stranger.
There are numerous dining options at the resort. The Whitewater 360 Sports Club is a casual spot that’s ideal for winding down after a day of golf and features cold beer and plenty of TVs where you can watch the big game. The Waterfront Bar and Grill specializes in seafood and has a laid-back setting on the waterfront. The Yacht Club is a more upscale option that overlooks Lake LBJ and features a more diverse wine list and a creative menu that includes seafood, steaks – and that country fried lobster that you’ll want to try once … and probably more.
For information on Horseshoe Bay Resort, visit HSBResort.com.