By James McAfee
The Texas Hill Country, west of Austin and north of San Antonio, has plenty of golfing options with the epicenter of the game at the Horseshoe Bay Resort shores near Lake LBJ, named for President Lyndon Johnson. It’s the perfect place for a long golfing weekend with three Robert Trent Jones-designed 18-hole resort courses—Slick Rock, Ram Rock and Apple Rock—available for visiting golfers wanting to test their games against some of the most challenging layouts in the state.
Golf continues to thrive, now better than ever. after Horseshoe Bay Resort did a $200 million enhancement, including adding a new pro shop 18 months ago and a new clubhouse at Caprock in May, 2021 after the original one burned down more than 10 years ago prior to celebrating its 50th anniversary all year long.
For the luxury travelers, the Horseshoe Bay Resort, of course, is the place to hang your hat, offering 400 rooms. The Resort Tower offers 249 oversized luxury rooms and suites that are elegantly designed and decorated with access to restaurants, lounges, meeting rooms and recreation just an elevator ride away. The 100-unit Palm Villas, located adjacent to the tower, offer one, two and three-bedroom units that are perfect for families or large groups. A few units are available as pet-friendly, too. The Waters offers 51 one, two and three-bedroom units near the lakefront. In addition, some private homes are also available for rent.
The resort offers a mixture of elegant and casual lakeside dining options at the Yacht Club, including the Y Bar and the Beachside Bar, plus the recently re-opened Waterfront Bar and Grill. Authentic Hill Country cuisine is offered at J’s Restaurant while you can get your Starbuck’ fix at The Market in the tower, Golfers can dine at both the Slick Rock Grill and Bar or the Cap Rock Cabana.
Visiting golfers can enjoy rounds at any of the three resort courses, all ranked in the “50 Best Courses Open to the Public” in the Dallas Morning News’ listing for the state since they were started. Of course, you’ll pay up to $150, but won’t be disappointed.
Slick Rock, opened in 1971, operates out of a clubhouse nearer the accommodations. Start your play there as it provides the most player-friendly conditions. It was ranked 29th. Ram Rock, opened in 1981, and Apple Rock, opened in 1985, operate out of the Caprock clubhouse, a few miles to the west. Ram Rock, is ranked ninth and regarded as the toughest challenge while Apple Rock, regarded as one of the most scenic in the state, was ranked 20th. In the list of the top 100 that also includes all the private courses, Ram Rock was 46th.
The most unique golfing opportunity at the resort is the 18-hole Whitewater Putting Course, an 18-hole, par-72 layout on Bermuda grass designed like a regular course with fairways, bunkers and water hazards where you use your putter for all shots.
Horseshoe Bay members also have exclusive privileges at nearby Summit Rock, a signature Jack Nicklaus design opened in 2010. It was ranked No. 20 in the rankings of the top 100 in the state.
The best attractions for non-golfers at the resort include boating and fishing on the lake and eight courts each for tennis or pickle ball.
If you are a wine enthusiast, there are three wineries—Spicewood Vineyards, Stone House Vineyards and Fall Creek Vineyards— located less than a 45-minute drive away.
If you have your own airplane, the Horseshoe Bay Resort Jet Center has the longest private runway in the area that can handle all personal and business aircrafts up to a regional jetliner.
Also nearby is the Escondido Golf and Lake Club, a Tom Fazio design that opened in 2006, offering a picturesque hamlet of luxury villas and casita homes. It also is exclusive for members of that club, not the public. It was ranked ninth in the list of the top 100.
Cousin Eldon Tarver, who used to own a home north of Horseshoe Bay in Blue Lake Estates, recommends players looking for less expensive golf experiences not to overlook Blue Lake Golf Club, located just miles away on Highway 71 toward Llano, featuring a nine-hole layout that includes five par-3s that sometimes call for hybrids or fairway woods from the tees for a couple of 80-year-old golfers. It was ranked No. 12 in the top 25 9-hole courses by the Morning News.
In addition, he along with golf professional Gary Parsons also pointed to Hidden Falls in Marble Falls and The Lighthouse and The Legends in Kingston as other viable options if time permits.
Why it’s appealing to over-50 luxury travelers
• A relaxing atmosphere offering scenic lake views away from crowded places back home.
• No need to leave property for fine dining.
• For first time on any of the resort courses, don’t just go to one of the back tees, you’ll enjoy the round a lot more from No. 3 or the executive or forward tees.
• Be aware that it can be a little hot in the summer, considering playing earlier in the day and always drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated.