A Legend in Its Own Time

Open to the public, La Loma Grande offers a classic design by one of the game’s greatest course architects.

La Loma GrandeGolfers in the San Antonio area have recognized for decades that the La Loma Grande Golf Course at Fort Sam Houston is among the best designed tracks in the State, but few know why a course located on an Army base has such a reputation and pedigree. It so happens that the course was originally developed by the legendary A.W. Tillinghast, and built by the soldiers themselves in the early 1900’s.

If the name Tillinghast rings a bell but you can’t quite place it, here are a few of his other 265 course designs: Winged Foot, Bethpage Black, Baltusrol, all of which have hosted numerous U.S. Opens, PGA Championships, and Ryder Cups. It is the only military golf course to host a PGA TOUR event: two Texas Opens that were won by Hall of Famers Arnold Palmer and Gene Littler. Now it has been returned to the dream of Tillinghast’s original design.

La Loma Grande shares Fort Sam with the Salado Del Rio Course and is the “flatter” of the two layouts, but most recreational players also consider 6,819-yard, par 71 track the more difficult course with its pushedup greens and its diabolical bunkering and mounding around the greens. The fairways are tree-lined but not as tight as on Salado Del Rio, lending a slightly more forgiving quality to La Loma. The greens are medium in both size and speed, and the strategic bunkering adds an additional level of challenge. All of the greens and bunkers have been renovated by the Kevin Tucker Group in 2008 and the tee boxes leveled and squared up, and the 16th green has been moved back into the trees, adding 20 yards to an already exciting par-3 that’s right in the middle of a great set of finishing holes.

Rounding out the facility is a practice chipping green, lighted driving range, private cart storage, rental clubs and 175 rental carts. Located within the Club-house is a Golf Shop featuring top of the line equipment and men’s and women’s apparel. “We offer a complete golf experience, and between the two courses host more than 80,000 rounds per year,” said Director of Golf Joseph Mendez, and judging by the continuing and overwhelming popularity of the venue, Mendez knows what he’s talking about.

La Loma offers private lessons, a Junior Golfers program during the warmer months, and approximately 14 golf tournaments per year. The shared Clubhouse features Mulligan’s Snack Bar, open daily from 6:15 am.- 6 p.m., and is the perfect setting for catered receptions, anniversary and retirement parties, luncheons and special events of all kinds with seating for 300. Mulligan’s also features a weekend breakfast buffet, a short order grill every day and daily lunch specials.

Fort Sam Houston was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1975, and careful preservation of the base and its traditions of excellence established when the first soldier arrived here in 1845 have carried over to its golf facilities. And while it’s not often that golfers of every stripe get to play on a Tillinghast design, as most have now been relegated to Private Club status, residents of or visitors to the San Antonio area can take a step back in time and enjoy the game as it was originally meant to be played. Play La Loma today, and start writing a little golf history of your own.

For more information on golf, (tee times) outings and tournaments and social events at La Loma (Ft Sam Houston Golf Club), call (210) 222-9386. Walk ons always welcome!


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