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Spring is just around the corner, and for us, that means golf – even if you can play it nearly year-round in the Valley climate. Each spring we ask our readers to vote for their favorite golf courses. The Valley has many courses to choose from, and Winter Texans seem to try to catch them all while visiting the Valley.

This is the third part in our series. This is your last week to vote for your favorites. Be sure to go online to www.wintertexantimes.com to vote for your favorite course in each area. If you have any special words to say about a course, email us at news@wintertexantimes.com.

20180208 Tony Butler Golf Course 09 webTony Butler Golf Course

Tony Butler would be proud.

The Tony Butler Golf Course of today isn’t the same as yesteryear. In fact, come this October, when the city is done with its multi-million-dollar revamp project – you may not even recognize it. Currently, holes 19-27 remain open as 1-18 goes through the makeover of makeovers as the city looks to increase its position as a destination city.

But the course’s impact on Rio Grande Valley golf remains as great, if not greater than any other golf course in terms of Rio Grande Valley Golf.

The course is re-doing everything – tee boxes fairways, bunkers, greens, lakes – it’s about as different as could be – and management promises “it will be harder. And completely different.” The city is also making heavy improvements to drainage, including installing a new pump station.

The Harlingen public golf course bears the name of the man, Tony Butler, who helped bring some of the sport’s greatest athletes to the Rio Grande Valley for professional tournaments during the Great Depression. The public Tony Butler golf course is much like the man, requiring a sharp strategic mind and the ability to play consistent golf.

Tony Butler Golf Course is located at 2640 South “M” Street in Harlingen. It is a 27-hole course that meanders through the natural South Texas terrain and is extremely easy to walk if you choose. The 18-hole course has a championship layout measuring 6,400 yards (par 71).

Harlingen Country Club

Harlingen Country Club first opened its doors in 1949 and its member-owned hacienda style clubhouse and course, which was designed in 1965 by Dave Bennett and Leon Howard, just fits like a glove. It is the epitome of country club living and the course has a personality that is eloquently South Texas.

The course has faced major blows, moving to its current location in 1970 on property that previously was Harlingen Airport. Hurricane Dolly then delivered a “crushing blow” to the clubhouse but the membership used it as an opportunity to create more and better, opening their new clubhouse in October 2010.

There’s comfort and peace on, off and in the facilities, which include the 18-hole course, driving range, putting, and chipping greens. The large, majestic trees and layout have class and history written in them.

The course ranges from 6,541 yards from the black tips to 5,035 from the ladies. The white markers snug in between at 5,625 yards. The course is located at 5500 El Camino Real.

Llano Grande Resort and Country Club

Located in the historical Delta Area, which includes the small communities of Edcouch, Mercedes, Elsa, La Villa, and Monte Alto – Llano Grande became a busy agricultural center in the Rio Grande Valley during the 1920s when the Southern Pacific Railroad laid train tracks through here. The area was coined the “Magic Valley” in an attempt to draw people to the area, and Northeasterners heeded the call and came to develop the land.

The entire park was named the best large park in Texas in 2015 and 2016 by the Texas RV Association and one publication described it as a small town, but its history looms large in the development of the Rio Grande Valley.

Nestled quietly amid all this is Llano Grande Golf Course, recently ranked No. 20 on Golf Advisor’s top 25 most improved courses. Reviewers confirm that this course is noticeably getting in better shape on a regular basis. It plays from 6,781 yards from the tips to a comfortably 5,792 and 4,964 from the whites and reds, respectively.

Llano Grande is located at 2215 East West Blvd. in Mercedes.

20220319 Tierra Santa Golf Course ALB 0006 webTierra Santa Golf Club

At one point, Tierra Santa was a golf course “with potential.”

Now, it’s a course of potential greatness. From being one of the most pristine, prettiest, and challenging in South Texas, its legend continues to be written. While its history has been good, its future is on the path to greatness.

Owners have refused to rest on its laurels, seemingly always looking to improve the full golf experience from its grill for before, during and after a round, to creating a friendly relaxing atmosphere that feels like home all the time.

Its rolling hills, elevation changes and fairways with multiple routes to reach the hole gives it a special touch. When you leave, no matter your score, you’ve had plenty of opportunities (and, like good golf courses, you leave with that one shot that will make you come back for more.).

From a redesigned clubhouse to an events center and more future plans, Tierra Santa is worth every minute – no matter how many golf balls you may “misplace.”
The course is located at 1901 Club de Amistad in Weslaco. It ranges from 5,283 yards at the red tees to whopping 7,139 and challenges you to bite off as much as you can chew on several holes.

20181207 Treasure Hills Golf Course HMiller 125422 webTreasure Hills Golf Course

Harlingen and the mid-Valley region have many options that attract golfers of all levels. And when you’re looking over that list of choices, there’s something about Treasure Hills that is just intriguing.

Just the address, 3009 N. Augusta National Dr., is enough to pique a true golfer’s attention.

Playing at 6,960 from the tips, Treasure Hills is one of the last designs of Robert Trent Jones’ amazing career. Jones was a British American golf course architect who designed, or re-designed, more than 500 golf courses in 45 U.S. states and 35 countries, according to his website. In reference to this, Jones took pride in saying, "The sun never sets on a Robert Trent Jones golf course."

That statement couldn’t fit Treasure Hills any better.

There are terrain elevation changes, plenty of doglegs, water hazards, 35 bunkers and usually a breeze. There are also a couple of tight spots, though most of the fairways are fairly wide. The front nine has no homes, while the back nine might be a little tougher with water on five of the holes.

The course has also seen several improvements since new owners took over in 2016. Most notably, a new irrigation system has improved turf conditions.

20220319 Stuart Place Golf Course ALB 0021 webStuart Place Country Club

Stuart Place hands down has the most loyal and passionate golf fans maybe anywhere in the country.

They have a clubhouse where people flock to and tell tales of days gone by and, in the past 6-8 years, has clearly become one of the most enjoyable golf experiences for visitors from all over. Its unique entrance brings a sense of comfort and joy and there’s just that extra “it” that makes it so special.

Located at 155 Highland Dr. in Harlingen, this 9-hole, par 36 course is something you would love to step out of your house and just start playing. While small, its design is simple, yet challenging and always seems to be in great shape.

20181212 Cottonwood Creek CC Hole 8 from mensTee PR webCottonwood Creek

Located at 1001 South Ed Carey in Harlingen, Cottonwood Creek was developed in 1984 and, according to the pro shop, “the course is the same. It hasn’t changed.”
A “very nice senior course,” Cottonwood Creek is open to the public. It’s a nine-hole par-3 course and that means golfers can fit it into their busy – or not-so-busy – schedule. The pro shop is open in the mornings and the signature hole is No. 5. It’s 175 yards across water. Make sure you hit enough club because “there are a lot of balls in there.”

To walk nine holes is just $13 and to do 18 is just $18 – one of the few joys in life that are still $1 per… even the cheapest of coffees are $1 at best (before taxes).
So, enjoy the serenity of this nearly 40-year-old course.