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There's Golf In Them Thar Texas Hills

The middle child, Ramrock, earned a reputation from the git-go (1981) as an ornery critter that will take a bite out of you if you don't watch out. A lot of sand (sixty-two traps), a lot of water (hazards on ten holes, dry creek beds on six), a lot of up and down (why do you think they call it the Hill Country?) and plenty of length (just shy of seven thousand yards) add up to a slope of 137, the highest in the state.

The most popular Horseshoe Bay course, among club members and resort guests alike, is the oldest, Slickrock, which opened for business in 1974. One trip around and you'll see why. Compared with its more rambunctious siblings, Slickrock seems subtle and grown up. Where they are hilly and abrupt, Slickrock is rolling and gentle. Although less dramatic than the other two, Slickrock is beautiful in its own right, with stands of live oak, cedar, willow and persimmon trees giving its fairways and greens strong definition.

Throughout his illustrious career, Jones has been guided by a rock-solid principle of golf course design: A good course should yield par grudgingly and bogey generously. At Slickrock, Jones succeeded in walking the fine line between hard par and easy bogey. The fairways are wide enough to give hope to the high-handicapper, but there's plenty of trouble waiting for the better player who gets overconfident. As the layout has aged, subtle adjustments and enhancements--including a decidedly unsubtle one-million-dollar waterfall, added in 1990--have built on the course's strengths.

Horseshoe Bay was conceived as a real estate development, not a resort. That means the golf courses and the other amenities were built to sell weekend and vacation homes, not to attract tourists. For the traveling golfer, that is a blessing. Since eighty percent of the Horseshoe Bay club members who own property here are weekenders, prime tee times are available most weekdays. You can of course get clobbered by a convention now and then, but one of the great virtues of Horseshoe Bay is that you can come here for a late-spring or mid-autumn golf orgy and not feel rushed.

And if dawn-to-dusk golf isn't enough, you can fine-tune your putting stroke at Whitewater, an over-the-top, eighteen-hole putting course, where you'll enjoy gratis use of specially engraved Pings and a layout complete with fairways, sand traps, fountains, gurgling brooks, a waterfall and a rose garden--all brightly lit for night play.

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