Precision in the pecans

By Steve Habel, Special to Golfers’ GuideDual personalities make San Saba River Golf Course a Hill Country treasure

By Steve Habel
Special to The Golfers Guide

There is nothing subtle about the round of golf presented at the San Saba River Golf Course, a track that has two distinct personalities and challenges aplenty despite a relatively flat site and not one sand bunker in its meandering layout.

The 18-hole course is actually a combination of two nine-hole tracks. The original nine holes at San Saba River GC was fashioned in 1972 by a group of local businessmen who liked to play golf and didn’t want to drive west to Brady or southeast to Lampasas to tee it up. They found a pecan orchard just east of town on the San Saba River and went to work, cutting a path through the trees next to the river.

Once room was cleared for the course, the men would head to the course in their spare time to keep it up and to play a little when they could. San Saba River GC became an area institution, so much so that folks would travel from just about anywhere to get a chance to test their games and their precision in the pecans.

By 1986, the course needed to expand so the city brought in golf course architect Sorrell Smith to design and build another nine holes. The new nine was routed in a plain south of the original course, and several irrigation ponds were dug and filled with water from the river and from the town’s effluent to keep the course green and growing.

With its pecan trees grown tall and wide and the new nine fully matured, San Saba River GC is not a course for the weak of heart or for the unaccomplished player, especially if it is attacked from the back set of four tee boxes. From the tips, the track sports four par-4s of 400 yards or more (three of those – including the massive 448-yard eighth – are on the newer, front-nine), two 580-yard par-5s and the colossal 625-yard ninth, one of the longest three-shot holes in the Lone Star State.

While the course’s longer holes are on the front-side (which plays at 3,628 yards), the final nine offerings at San Saba River GC are the holes that draw top players to the course. Most of the track’s more than 2,700 mature pecan trees are on the back-nine (which was the original course) and if the player struggles with his control he or she will have a tough row to hoe.

Golfers relish courses that ask the player to use their heads and execute rather than bomb and gouge and San Saba River GC is a thinking-man’s challenge. Yes there are times when the long ball can be the player’s friend – such as on the aforementioned lengthy par-5s – but there are easily as many opportunities to rein in your game and play to position.

“The real challenge here begins at the turn,” said PGA professional Keith Harris, the course’s director of golf. “Over the years, the pecan trees have grown so much that they overhang some of the fairways and make the course much narrower and less forgiving. The player needs to be able to move his ball in both directions to be successful here.”

Owned and operated by the city of San Saba, the San Saba River Golf Course has been voted a “Best Place to Play” by Golf Digest magazine. The track is renowned for its challenging routing and its quiet, scenic beauty. The course is located just east of Highway 190 in the land where the Texas Hill Country is at its northernmost point.

Facilities located on the course grounds include the club’s pro shop, driving range, short-game practice area and putting green. Golf packages, which include course play and lodging reservations, are also available.

Adjacent to the course is the San Saba River RV Park and Clubhouse Facility, where each campsite offers full-service hook-ups, a grill area and a fire ring. The clubhouse features a kitchen, a dining area, a great room with satellite television, bathrooms, showers and a laundry facility.


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