The dead-flat cotton-farming land around Lubbock, Texas, has no natural attributes in common with any of the world's great golf courses—except a stiff, prevailing wind not unlike that which sweeps across the Scottish links. So wind is what architect Tom Doak capitalized on when creating Texas Tech University's miraculously fun to play new Rawls course.
By moving 770,000 cubic yards of earth (more than on his last ten projects combined, he says, including his heralded Pacific Dunes course in Oregon), Doak created a unique artificial landscape that's links-like in feel yet distinctly Texan. Most of the course's many gulches, hillocks, dales and escarpments are grassy, but others are deliberately unkempt in imitation of the area's eroded, prototypically West Texan caprock landscape. Routed through these features are 7,207 yards of brilliantly innovative holes, with super-wide fairways that accommodate tee shots blown off line; putting surfaces that pitch and roll playfully; steep, penal bunkers; and huge grassy mounds and swales. "We tried to design holes that you have to think through beforehand, because of the wind," Doak told T+L GOLF in a bold display of understatement.
Stand on these fairways and it's all too easy to forget that the course is adjacent to the lackluster, low-slung campus of Texas Tech. With high embankments on two sides, you may occasionally hear the nearby traffic, but you'll never see it. Indeed, playing the Rawls course is something akin to crossing into a Tom Doak fantasy world. It's re-entering Lubbock afterward that comes as a bit of a shock.
Greens Fees: $35-$40. Tee Times: 806-742-4653 or visit texastechgolf.ttu.edu.