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Club Selection: Wolf Point Ranch

The enigma that is Wolf Point Ranch is reaching for a new horizon – upscale, private and for the wealthy

PORT LAVACA, Tex. – Wolf Point Ranch’s fairways are wide and rumpled as an unmade bed, and the wild contours on the greens will make you pay. Like in golf’s olden days it plays firm and fast.

But that’s a mere percentage of what this secretive course is all about.  Today, this 2008 Mike Nuzzo-designed course with Don Mahaffey responsible for several duties, is for sale, the mystery is being revealed — somewhat.

That doesn’t mean you will get to play this Texas Gulf Coast gem anytime soon.

Al Stanger built Wolf Point Ranch for himself and one buddy to play every day. The coastal prairie 1,600 acres is close to Carancahua Bay — a northern extension of Matagorda Bay and is home to farmers and ranchers. But Al loved it because it was warm almost year around.

“This was a labor of love — it was never intended to be a public course and never intended to be sold,” said Rick Doak, the real estate agent for Republic Ranches. The property is listed for $11.5 million.

Unfortunately, Stanger died in an accident and his wife, Dianna, a world-renowned pilot, rated for jets, decided to sell – just too many painful memories.

Al served on a submarine in the United States Navy from 1955-1959. He was visionary in every sense and true American success story. With just a technical trade school education, he went on to grow Electro-Methods, LLC, a manufacturing company for commercial and military jet engine parts.

He worked his way up from the shop floor to monetary success but was always a down-to-earth regular guy.

In 1998, Al and Dianna moved to Port Lavaca. Al employed numerous people in Calhoun County through his various business endeavors including award winning Wolf Point Ranch, Shellfish Sports Bar & Grille, Bayou Feed Store and Greenscape Methods.

“Al and Dianna found this property because they loved ranching and Dianna had brother in Houston,” Doak continued. “The main house is a beautiful 7,200-square foot home sitting on top of a hill with incredible views of the golf course. The home, with steel bracing, was built to withstand the Gulf Coast winds and hurricanes.

“There’s floor to ceiling windows to let in lots of light. The kitchen is a chef’s dream — a gourmet commercial kitchen built of mostly stainless steel and combined with modern lighting. The open kitchen and den area is perfect for entertaining.

The curved roof was built to let strong winds go over it. A tornado is not going to take it down.”

During golf course construction a 13-acre lake was dug out and the fill created the elevated hill where the house was built. Remember this is flat land – so the house on an elevated knob gives golfers a view of the house during their complete round.

Doak envisions plenty for a future owner. He is currently entertaining talks from four different investment companies.

“This could be a world-class destination for golf, hunting, quail, deer, sporting clays, tennis, spa, and the addition of casitas or cottages,” said Doak. “I really think it needs to be an exclusive resort with upscale golf memberships.

“We already have underground fiber obtics and utilities — everything in place to develop. Who else has on-site a 5,000-foot runway, enclosed by high-fencing, that will support 30,000 pounds per wheel – for any private-corporate jet out there. That opens this up to anyone in the world. And I’ve never seen a better hangar. It is even climate controlled.

“We already have the Stanger’s home that we could develop into a clubhouse easily – plus another clubhouse with kitchen and men’s and women’s locker rooms. We have room out there by the runway where you could develop 5- to 10-acre lots – would have enough room to build your own personal hangar,” said Doak, a retired Continental Airlines captain.

“We have plenty of room across the road to put in a boat dock — maybe a ramp, lodge or bay house, and we don’t need to offer the fishing, Brandon Critendon and I both know plenty of fishing guides all over the area. You could come in here and book a fishing trip for bay fishing for redfish and trout or go offshore to the Gulf of Mexico through the pass right out through Matagorda Bay — I go out there all the time when it is smooth and it is some of the best fishing in the world.

“I’ve also heard from Koreans and Japanese who also are interested with thoughts of keeping this very exclusive and keep the mystique alive of Wolf Point,” Doak said.

Wolf Point Ranch, The Golf Club

This is raw, beautiful coastal prairie land with native grasses, deer, quail and three camels. Yep, it even has camels.

Allan Long, a former college golfer, got to play Wolf Point Ranch years ago.

“One of the things I enjoyed most about Wolf Point is that it played fast and firm,” Long said. “I’ve played a lot of links courses worldwide, and I was stunned how similarly it played to some of the true links courses of the world. By no means would I call Wolf Point a links course but the design and maintenance practices combined to give the course those characteristics while adding to the fun of the round and not sacrificing challenge.

“I didn’t know what to expect, I’d only heard some stories about Wolf Point Ranch, but what I found was one of the most fun courses I had ever played, and a course I fell in love with after seeing it for the first time.

“When you putt out on No. 18 at Wolf Point, you run back to the first tee. Wolf Point is a truly special place, full of strategy, excitement and fun, and I feel very privileged that I had the opportunity to play there. I could play there every day and be quite content,” Long concluded.

Can you imagine a golf course where it is just you and one other playing as the only tee-time of the day?  That was my experience. My day on the golf course was swift and fun. My group included Abby Frank, Doak and Critendon, who handles the everyday running of the ranch and heads maintenance of the golf course. Only Frank and I actually played.

There are no tee or yardage markers only a few mounds close to your last green and the discussion was aimed at Critendon. We asked him all day: “What’s the yardage from this mound?” It was just make a decision and hit your drive.

The golf course cost $3 million and $900,000 went to irrigation. The course irrigation system, weather station, and pump station are integrated into a central computer control system and can interface with any device connected to the internet.

It took 18 months to build. In Tom Doak’s (no relation) The Confidential Guide, Volume 2, he says Wolf Point Ranch has the best set of greens in Texas.

More notes of Wolf Point Ranch’s rise to stardom

It has been claimed that it is one of the most exclusive private clubs ever built. Some claim that as few as 200 have ever teed it up here since its opening.

One who rates top golf courses has Wolf Point Ranch at No. 96 out of the 147 in the world.

Wolf Point is located only an hour and a half from Houston.

For purists of the game all over the USA waiting to play Wolf Point Ranch the mystery has now turned into a cliffhanger. The mask is still on.

Story by David R. Holland

Photos courtesy of Mike Nuzzo, Republic Ranches and David R. Holland


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