Course Review: Columbia Lakes Resort

Back several years ago, when the exploration for oil on the Gulf Coast was at its peak, and at a time when corporations did exceptional things for their employees, an oil company built a marvelous community for its people. The anchor for this communi y was a Fazio-designed golf course. Laid out among the ancient, Spanish moss-draped oaks that are native to the area, and laced with streams, ponds and lakes, the setting was breathtaking. The property flourished, the golf course matured, and Columbia Lakes became a favorite destination for southland executives, employees and their families. Then came the oil “bust.” Suddenly OPEC had more to say about global oil prices than all of the American oil companies combined. The funds previously used to keep the Resort in pristine shape were diverted to the expensive proposition of exploring for oil in exotic locations and at depths previously considered out of the question. The gradual slide continued for years; the oil company finally sold it off, and successive management teams were unable to turn it around.

And then, in November of 2006, a new “sheriff” arrived in town in the form of a hard-driving PGA Professional with a vision. Columbia Lakes Resort was exactly what Bob Putt and his wife, Sharon, had been looking for. Their restoration efforts began on the day they arrived. A constant stream of employees consult with “Mr. Bob”. His cell phone and office phone rarely stop ringing. As one of the employees remarked, “The Putts have done more for this operation in one month than has been done in the previous 5 years!”

A great layout already existed. The 30-year-old course wanders through the lovely homes and the many water hazards that old Tom F. seems to really like. The hundreds of mature oak trees create narrow, winding fairways that demand a high level precision from the golfer, both off the tee and from the fairway. To further test your accuracy, as you approach each green, it’s easy to think you’ve come up to a beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Sand, sand, sand, as far as the eye can see! A total of 56 sand “opportunities” are present, both in the fairway and around the greens. At 7,000 yards from the Championship tees, the course will give even the big hitters a serious challenge.
The fifth is a natural favorite. A 533-yard dogleg right par-5 presents the player with water all the way to the hole on the right side, and a nice, continuous barrier of trees on the left. A precisely placed tee shot will allow you to cut off a few yards by crossing the water with your second shot, but if your tee shot is even 15 yards left or right of center, you’re in serious trouble. Several other holes offer challenging sand, water, or sand and water and lay-up opportunities. This course keeps your attention.

The results of Bob Putt’s reclamation efforts have been dramatic and the future is exciting! And if you’re looking for a place to hold a meeting, Columbia Lakes has superior conference support capabilities, with state-of-the-art A-V equipment, several different sizes of meeting rooms, and food service that is first class. For more information, visit or call them at (979) 345-5151 or toll free (800) 231-1030.

By Mike Innis


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