Great Golf Inside the Loop At Northern Hills Golf Club

By Mike Innislub

When I play golf in San Antonio, I'm usually playing outside the Anderson Loop (Loop 1604) unless I happen to be visiting one of the municipal courses. The Loop was built because of congestion; it allows travelers to bypass the he
vily built-up areas of the metropolis.

In 1969, when the Joseph Beleau-de-signed Northern Hills Golf Course was built on 130 beautiful acres, the site was considered to be an almost rural, rather rustic location. Even today, when you're out on the course, it's not hard to forget that you're just minutes from Interstates 10 and 35, or from either of the two Loops, 410 or 1604. On a couple of the fairways you can see the skyline of San Antonio out to the south.

Formerly a private club, Northern Hills Golf Club is now open to the public as a semi-private facility. It's a regulation 18-hole par-72 course, which stretches out over 6,600 yards. Many of the course's small greens are undulating and multi-tiered, and the fairways are tree lined and very plush. Those fairways that don't enjoy the trees as a natural boundary have the back yards of several homes pushed right up to them to help test the accuracy of your ball-striking. There are two severe dogleg fairways, both of which are par 5's. Water hazards come into play on a minimum of four holes.

I played the course recently with Pete Peterson, the VP and General Manager of Northern Hills. He was quite enthusiastic and justifiably proud of the condition of the course. Pete told me that several major improvements had recently been made, with well over a million dollars invested, to turn Northern Hills back into the golf showplace that he and the members wanted it to be. All of the existing irrigation system was torn out and replaced with a new, state-of-the-art system; all 18 greens were resurfaced with championship grass (more about the grass later); several of the holes were redesigned; and massive drainage work was done to improve runoff during the downbursts we frequently get in the Hill Country.

The greens were absolutely incredible. The Texas A&M-developed ultra-dwarf mini-verde Burmuda grass on the putting surfaces is the same one used at TPC Sawgrass in Florida, where the Players Championship is played each year. I had played bent grass before and found it to be quite fast and true. But this mini-verde was lightning fast! After running my ball 15 feet past the first couple of holes, Pete let me know that, in preparation for a member/guest tournament, the greens had just recently been rolled with their new greens roller, so they were even slicker than usual. But they are true: if you can read the grain and the slope, the ball will track right into the cup every time.

I give Northern Hills Golf Club "two thumbs up." It's a "gotta play" course for anyone reading this issue of Golf Guide. And an 18-hole round on this classy course won't break the bank: guest fees range from $29.00 - $39.00, depending upon the day of the week and the time of the day. Those fees, by the way, include the rental of an electric cart and the use of the practice putting green. A true price performer. The course is located at 13202 Scarsdale St. Set your foursome up with a tee time by calling 210-655-8026 as many as 3 days in advance.


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