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20220319 Stuart Place Golf Course ALB 0046 webGolf is a passion for those who play, wherever their ability level sits – all it takes is one great shot of the 100 or so you take for the “casual” golfer to transform into the person who talks about everything using golf lingo. Phrases like “I aced it,” or “that’s par for the course,” seemingly are used much more by the golfer than the rest of the “normal” world.

But when one goes out to hit the fairways, there’s usually a ritual that takes place, some are more intense than others. Some people arrive early, grab some breakfast, hit the putting green or the driving range and then start their round. Others will just hang back in the clubhouse and spend a day just putting, chipping, eating, watching television, and chatting with other golfers as they begin, or put an end, to their ritual, which oftentimes includes a burger or nachos and a cold adult beverage – maybe more than one to either celebrate a good round or to try and forget a bad round.

In any case, while the round is the feature presentation, it is not the only thing. It’s like going to a movie – sure, the flick is the reason you’re there, but it’s the popcorn, candy, pizza, beverage…. and the previews or behind the scenes clips, that complete the movie experience.

Winston Churchill once said, "Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose."

Readers and golfers from across the Rio Grande Valley participated in the Winter Texan Times “Favorites” golf contest, to see what they enjoyed – golf and not golf – at courses across South Texas. We found out that while golf – hacking away at a tiny golf ball with the goal of dropping it into an all-too-tiny golf hole from hundreds of yards away – is important, there were a lot of other enjoyable aspects of a round that are necessary to complete a day at the golf course.

20220319 Stuart Place Golf Course ALB 0056 webStuart Place, the one-time unknown course – is similar in its meteoric rise to Buster Douglas – remember him? The guy who knocked out the then-invincible Mike Tyson – again showed what paying attention to the details can mean by dominating the votes.

The little course that has (as opposed to “could”) won favorite hole (No. 9), pro shop, 19th hole amenities and putting green. The 9-hole par-36 course may be small in size but it’s the Buster Douglas of golf in South Texas. The only difference is that Douglas was a one-hit wonder. Stuart Place, located in Harlingen is not only a legend killer but it has become a legend for its continuing dominance of this contest.

Of course, golf is an experience, and two other things golfers are noted for – being people people (if that’s a word) and food experts. That’s why it was hard for any one golf course to win any categories that would include food.

Stuart Place won the favorite amenities category and some of the comments included “Friendly people at the clubhouse,” “fresh hot free popcorn,” “Staff makes you feel at home,” and “Pleasant staff, friendly customers and welcoming atmosphere.”

20220319 Los Lagos Golf Course ALB 0001 webLos Lagos earned honorable mention kudos, its beer and tacos leading the way along with the carts, driving range, pro shop, and restaurant.

Los Lagos was also part of a three-way tie, again with their renown tacos, made fresh upon order. Joining the Edinburg course was the rising Llano Grande’s beer and hot dogs along with Brownsville Golf Center’s hot dogs. And who can argue with a golfer about food, it’s second nature.

Most golfers will start their day on the putting green or driving range. It’s a place where you never miss your perfect shot and it’s directly linked to how often a golfer scratches his head in bewilderment after banana slicing a ball into the woods after hitting 40 perfect balls on the range. Los Lagos, Tierra Santa, and Brownsville Golf Center were the readers’ choices for best driving range and that covers most of the Valley, meaning you have no excuse to still be hooking your tee shot into the back yard of someone’s home.

Stuart Place won for favorite putting green and that’s important on a par-three course since more than half of your shots should be putts. Los Lagos, a traditionally favorite golf course, and Brownsville Golf Center were named honorable mentions for favorite putting green. Of course, at Los Lagos, the moguls and the hurricane gale force winds make putting the only true thing on the course, unless your putts get air under them of course, then it’s “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

20181219 Brownsville Golf Center HMiller 0001 webLlano Grande, which is making a surging comeback in the golf world earned honorable mention in Favorite 19th hole (shouldn’t every 19th hole be a favorite?). Well, Llano Grande’s the honorable mention favorite of the favorites.

Los Lagos earned honorable mentions in Favorite hole (No. 14), and Favorite Pro Shop (yes, it has more than just an amazing kitchen, but a well-stocked pro shop with neat clothing and accessories).