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Get ready to make Horseshoe Bay Resort your new golf go-to

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Looking to escape to a golf hot spot where you can play a unique course each day, but where that’s not the only game in town?  How about one that’s convenient and affordable to boot?

You know the familiar spots: The Carolinas. Florida. Wisconsin and Michigan all come to mind.

If you’re looking for a destination with easy access, price inclusive golfing at three incredible courses as well as water sports, a pool, beach, hiking, endless dining choices, a spa and more – head to the hills: the Hill and Lake region of Texas where, just outside of Austin, you’ll find Horseshoe Bay Resort (https://www.hsbresort.com).

Horseshoe Bay Resort, tucked into the striking hill landscape about an hour outside of Austin and nestled against Lake LBJ (named after, of course, the region’s most famed American) has been the life mission of family owners for more than 50 years. First the Hurd cousins looked over the vast ranches in that hilly, scrub-brush area and saw paradise.

They built courses, imported palms and other tropical flora and began to build their dream. In 1995, the Jaffe family took over and are still going strong, pumping more than $100 million in upgrades in recent years, with more to come.

The result – still a work in progress (look for a massive new state-of-the-art golf center to break ground early winter 2023), is a delightful surprise.

I headed there mid October. A newbie to golf (I’d been a hack for years. Six months ago I decided to get serious and have been taking lessons and working on improvement since), this would be one of my first true golf trips.

I arrived midday – an easy direct flight on JetBlue (Boston to Austin) and a shuttle set up by the resort had me there barely tired. From my fifth floor room in The Tower (once a Marriott, now operated by the resort itself) I could see a fantastic pool area, the many hills and Lake LBJ itself.

I took time to take in that pool area that afternoon, soaking in the warm autumn sun.

The next morning, the golf began. I chose to play three of the club’s courses, starting with Apple Rock, the recently upgraded Robert Trent Jones Sr. course originally opened in 1985. Jones’ plan was to use the height and scenery of the course for both challenge and wow factor. It works.

Some holes sidle right up to Lake LBJ; many require challenging – but exciting – uphill and downhill drives.There was little pressure out there: Since only private members and resort guests can play the courses, crowding is seldom an issue.

Day two I headed to Slick Rock, Horseshoe Bay’s oldest course – but don’t let that give you pause: It went through a massive redo in 2016, including upgrades to what is now called the “Million Dollar Hole,” where you tee off up and over a massive and breathtaking waterfall. It’s named for its scenery (and redesign price tag) but this new golfer can report that when my drive hit the lush green fairway past the waterfall, I felt like … they’d named it for me.

Slick Rock is a more traditional course and plays with a little more forgiveness. I was paired up with three very good male players and, thanks to well-placed tee boxes, I held my own and never held up the group. I’d go back in a heartbeat to play another 18.

There’s also Ram Rock, lovingly known as “The Challenger” to regulars. It features narrow fairways, dramatic elevation challenges (like the other courses) and, for wow factor, their island green fourth hole. It’s a great test for the advanced golfer.

I got lucky, too, and scored a round at the resort’s members-only Summit Rock, a Jack Nicklaus designed private course that blends natural landscape, lush fairways, tropical flora, natural slate and granite, and spectacular views. While it’s not open to the public, word is if you’re interested in a future membership, you might score a round.

It wasn’t just golf though. The dining was incredible, from the famed deep fried lobster tail at the Yacht Club, to the forward-themed dining at the new Cap Rock Club House to the fun sports-themed finger foods at Whitewater 360 Sports Club next to the Tower, where you can sip your cocktails while playing their real grass 18-hole par 72 putting course.

There’s a Kid’s Club and spa (they plan on upgrading the spa in the coming year or so), tennis and pickle ball (they played host to the National Pickle Ball Championships this past spring), and plenty of spots to just sit out and take in the beauty.

As I headed home on my return flight, I texted my kids. “I think I just found our next family vacation spot,” I wrote.

A lovely waterfall is an integral part of Horseshoe Bay Resort's "Million Dollar Hole." (Photo by Moira McCarthy)
A lovely waterfall is an integral part of Horseshoe Bay Resort’s “Million Dollar Hole.” (Photo by Moira McCarthy)

 

Golf isn't the only game in town at Horsehoe Bay Resort in Texas. The lovely pool area beckons swimmers, and loungers. (Photo by Moira McCarthy)
Golf isn’t the only game in town at Horsehoe Bay Resort in Texas. The lovely pool area beckons swimmers, and loungers. (Photo by Moira McCarthy)
The golf courses at Horseshoe Bay Resort in Texas accommodate newbies to the sport as well as accomplished players. (Photo by Moira McCarthy)
The golf courses at Horseshoe Bay Resort in Texas accommodate newbies to the sport as well as accomplished players. (Photo by Moira McCarthy)

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