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20220319 Stuart Place Golf Course ALB 0036 webThis golf course continues to make a meteoric rise in popularity. It’s a refreshing and enjoyable course to play (don’t confuse that with easy though). Its surroundings are peaceful, its people are friendly and everyone who goes there are loyal – Stuart Place is the Winter Texans favorite place overall to golf in the Rio Grande Valley, and number one in the Mid Valley category.

It has the look and feel of a country club from the moment you drive in, but it is public for play – so today's your lucky day.

Then, when you hit the clubhouse, you’ve discovered the pot at the end of the rainbow. Open arms, smiling faces and a great time awaits you, whether you had a spectacular round, or one you want to forget. It gives the entire experience an A-plus. Like the show "Cheers," it's truly a place where everybody knows your name. And just a fun place to experience.

20181207 Treasure Hills Golf Course HMiller 125422 webTreasure Hills – Second Place, Harlingen

No golf course has done more to remain alive – and thrive – than Treasure Hills.

Owners saw the potential in the beautifully designed course and, with some tender loving care, have turned this into a fabulous golf course that gives golfers a unique experience.

It has all the ingredients of greatness – elevation changes, wide open holes that really aren't wide open – just a mirage to let you believe you can grip it and rip it. But always plan ahead because danger lurks with strategically placed pins and trees that are more than happy to send even your best shot of the day bouncing in all sorts of directions but where you aimed.

Tierra Santa – Third Place, Weslaco

20220319 Tierra Santa Golf Course ALB 0025 webThe course that had at one time the most well-known finishing hole has been undergoing major renovations. They, like many Valley courses, have invested in their operation and the returns have been terrific. They even flip-flopped its front and back nine, at one point meaning No. 18 turned to No. 9. The good side is that even if you have a bad No. 9, you still have nine more holes to recover – and can make a stop at the clubhouse along the way.

The pro shop has been remodeled as well as the restaurant. The course has been in immaculate shape for several years and the layout is fabulous. You could play this course over and over and never get tired of the challenges, or the beauty of several holes. It’s no wonder this continually ranks among the most favorite golf courses in the Valley.

It has 14 lakes, strategically placed sand traps and provides multiple shot selections for almost every hold. Par 3s are easily reached but where they land – even if on the green – can make the difference between a birdie and a bogey, or something else.

Los Lagos – First Place, Edinburg

20220319 Los Lagos Golf Course ALB 0030 webWinter Texans chose three completely unique courses as their favorites in the Upper Valley, led by the biggest risk/reward course of all, Los Lagos in Edinburg.

This course is a unique experience that can be frustrating or super rewarding. Moguls, elevation changes and, of course, Valley wind are the triple crown of golf and Los Lagos has them all. The moguls leave you to believe that you're not playing on a more than usual flat Valley course. Fairways lean toward water or other danger zones but also give you plenty of paths to get to your destination.

There’s just something about this course that calls out to golfers at all levels. It’s visually appealing, incredibly challenging but a course that must be played at least once – but once you play it, you’ll be struck with the Lagos bug and want to keep returning. And something else common about the Upper Valley favorites, they all have great food options.

Champion Lakes – Second Place, McAllen

20160204 Palmview7341 webThis is a course that just refuses to sit still – now the home of UTRGV golf and with team lockers and golf bays. Now it can be a favorite to play, or to go out and watch a Division 1 Tournament.

A few years back, when the Winter Texan numbers were shrinking, City of McAllen Golf Director Carlos Espinosa went in search of, “Why.”

His reaching out to golfers has made a huge difference and Espinosa said it was important to see what the golfers wanted and what he and his staff could do to appeal to the Winter visitors.

Of course, it helps that the course is always in amazing condition with a layout that is visually enchanting but both challenging and unique. It also boasts the biggest lighted driving range in the Valley. And don’t forget to grab a burger while you’re there.

Tierra Del Sol – Third Place, Pharr

20191104 Tierra Del Sol Golf Course HMiller 9668 webThis is not your father's Tierra Del Sol. Ever since the course underwent a major facelift, it continues to draw Winter Texans from its surrounding parks and across the Rio Grande Valley.

Greens were restructured. Grass was planted from tees to greens, drainage was improved and Tierra Del Sol became a completely new golfing experience. Some holes are still in the “grip it and rip it” category, but other holes require a deft touch. Large greens are nice and roll true – but large greens also can lead to long putts. Sometimes laying up and pitching onto the green here is more beneficial than being on the farthest point from the green.

A tiny almost-island like hole gives golfers a pleasant view from a walking bridge that was added. But don't get distracted by the view – there are some vicious pin placements here.

The course also has amazing breakfast tacos.

South Padre Island Golf Course – First Place, Laguna Vista

20140902 SPI Golf Course Hole 5 webIt only seems right that South Padre Island Golf Course tops the list for favorite Lower Valley course. The expectations are high when you play a course named after one of the most exhilarating vacation destinations in the country.

This course has been working furiously to meet those expectations. Clearly that work – and some TLC – is paying off as once again SPI is among the Winter Texans’ favorite courses.

It’s easy to take in some of the breathtaking views this course has to offer. Those same views can also lull you into too much relaxation on a course that is filled with challenges, and the amazingly crazy South Texas winds, especially on the coast.

Whether you come to South Texas on vacation or are a winter visitor – or a full-time resident, you need to play this course at least once – no, wait, multiple times. There will be stories to tell, especially after playing par-4 No. 18. A hole where being conservative is probably the best bet, even though the rewards of a long ball are at their maximum.

River Bend – Second Place, Brownsville

20191020 River Bend Golf Course HMiller 8544 webRiver Bend is like a gift you never expected to receive. Ever since the beautifully designed golf course opened itself up and shared its joy with the rest of the world, the course has sky-rocketed to a perennial favorite among Winter Texans, and across the Valley.

River Bend was built as a nine-hole course but expanded to 18 holes in 1985. It's situated along the banks of the Rio Grande and was once considered one of the best-kept golf secrets in the Valley.

That changed when the Barnard family purchased the course in 2015.

The Rio Grande Valley is renowned for its climate, flora and fauna, friendly people and economical lifestyle and River Bend worked to bring it together in one location. The name is derived from the huge bend in the Rio Grande that borders the resort and provides the property with a lush tropical setting. Plants and birds not seen elsewhere in the U.S. are common throughout River Bend Resort & Golf Club.

Not only one of the most scenic and relaxing courses to play, but River Bend also gives golfers wide open holes, tight fairways, elevation changes and a chance to use every club in your bag. They have also removed some trees too where a beautiful view of the river emerges, and it could make you forget that you’re golfing and not just sightseeing.

Valley International Golf Course – Third Place, Brownsville

More commonly known as VICC, you'll especially notice one thing about this course – as soon as you drive into the parking lot you see the presentation of trees, flowers and landscaping that is beyond comparison.

It is not an especially difficult course, but you would be smart to use the clubs you can hit in a straight line because a little stray turns into a lot of trouble.

Every year, this course improves something, from a hole to drainage to a stocked pro shop. And, when it comes to food – the country club part of the course shines brightly and can easily make you forget if you had a bad round or add to the pleasantries of a good one.