Fort Sam Houston Courses

With Renovations Complete, Time to Tee It Up

It is absolutely remarkable what a little TLC has done for two of San Antonio’s vintage golf courses. Well, actually, it was a lot of tender loving care, $3.6-million worth to the 36-holes
at Fort Sam Houston. But you are now more than welcome to come out to the Fort, bring your outing (large or small) and see how well that money was spent! Great care that was taken by the Kevin Tucker Design Group of Nashville in a two year revitalization project, first at the Salado Del Rio Course, then at La Loma Grande, which has just reopened. Yet the renovation and redesign didn’t trick up the courses, or even make them any more difficult, only more player-friendly, which should keep the pace-of-play at a comfortable 4:15 to 4-1/2 hours.

The courses have a separate entrance off Harry Wurzbach, so getting out to play these two Alamo City classics has never been easier, and the two layouts have never been so inviting. Every hole now has four separate tee boxes and you won’t believe the great finish, with the 18th holes of both courses sharing the same huge redesigned green.

Salado Del Rio reopened last January after the tees were reshaped and the TifDwarf greens that had been saucershaped for years (after all, that was the design of the times) were redesigned to be more undulating, adding to the challenge of this long-time favorite. The course was also lengthened to over 6,500-yards and, thanks to additional mounding, renovated bunkering and an improved drainage system, will be far more enjoyable to play more days of the year.

The La Loma Grande Course, originally developed by the legendary A.W. Tillinghast and built by the soldiers themselves in the early 1930s, 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, nine holes of which are part of La Loma Grande and nine at Salado Del Rio, though Tillinghast fanatics often ask for, and receive, the opportunity to play that specific combination of holes.

While the two courses share a great history (both sites have hosted the All-Army Championships), it’s the future of the Fort Sam courses that has everyone connected to them so excited. In conjunction with the Wounded Warrior Project and the PGA of America, the Fort Sam Houston courses have been involved with the Disabled Sports USA Military Golf Program, providing golf instruction as part of the rehabilitation of severely wounded personnel returning from the Middle East. Working with the three major military medical centers in the country, including Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, more than a half-dozen PGA Professionals at each site have helped instruct dozens of wounded warriors on playing a sport they’ll be able to enjoy for the rest of their lives.

As their names would indicate, the two layouts offer quite a diverse look and feel. Salado Del Rio might be the more scenic of the two courses with its tree-lined fairways, additional mounding around the greens, and forced carries over hazards, some you can play out of, some you can’t. The stretch of holes from the fourth through the eighth is particularly breathtaking as they play along and across Salado Creek, offering more pronounced doglegs and the most dramatic elevation changes on either course. The renovated eighth hole is a perfect example, the dogleg left now even more defi nitive with the green moved back 20-25 yards into the trees where the ninth tee used to be.

As their names would indicate, the two layouts offer quite a diverse look and feel. Salado Del Rio might be the more scenic of the two courses with its tree-lined fairways, additional mounding around the greens, and forced carries over hazards, some you can play out of, some you can’t. The stretch of holes from the fourth through the eighth is particularly breathtaking as they play along and across Salado Creek, offering more pronounced doglegs and the most dramatic elevation changes on either course. The renovated eighth hole is a perfect example, the dogleg left now even more defi nitive with the green moved back 20-25 yards into the trees where the ninth tee used to be.

La Loma Grande has always been the flatter of the two layouts, but most regular players also consider it the more difficult with its pushed-up greens, particularly the back nine and its diabolical bunkering and mounding around the greens. All of the greens and bunkers have been renovated 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.

When you finish either course at that common 18th green, you’ll be welcomed into the modern, 20,000 square-foot John J. McCarthy Clubhouse that features Mulligan’s Snack Bar and can seat up to 300 for special occasions ranging from wedding receptions to anniversary and retirement parties, all with gorgeous views overlooking the practice putting green and the driving range. The friendly and professional staff at Ft. Sam Houston invites outings of any size, and yet with 36 holes on-site, has the flexibility to host outings, and plenty of open play as well. The fully-stocked pro shop has all the latest equipment, fashions and golf accessories.
Speaking of the driving range, it’s lighted for cooler nighttime practice, and is very busy with private and group lessons offered by the staff of PGA Professional teachers and a vibrant junior program.

The Fort Sam Houston courses are extremely player-friendly. They’re always offering twilight fees and daily specials. For more information on outings or other special events, or on their affordable golf in a relaxing environment with unparalleled customer service, visit www.fortsamhoustonmwr.com and click on Business Operations. Or you can call (210) 222-9386 for details or to book a tee time at one of San Antonio’s historic pair of favorites, Salado Del Rio and La Loma Grande.

 

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