After a makeover, the state’s birthplace of public golf shines anew

The historical importance of Brackenridge Park, an early A. W. Tillinghast design outside San Antonio, is hard to dispute. When it opened in 1916, it became the state’s first public eighteen; later, it became the first inductee into the Texas Golf Hall of Fame. When it was host of the Texas Open, from 1922 to 1959, legends named Hagen, Hogan, Nelson and Snead all won titles there.

The years bring ravages as well as glory, of course, and Brackenridge Park addressed them last year with a $7.5 million makeover. Texas-based architect John Colligan relied on a copy of the original blueprints to reinstate the course’s Tillinghast look. Newly enlarged greens feature squared-off corners and significant internal contour. In order to re-create vintage strategies, Colligan added groupings of deep, Tillie-inspired bunkers across fairways and around greens.

The construction of a highway in the 1960s forced much of Brackenridge Park’s back nine to be condensed and rerouted, but Colligan worked to recover as much of the original routing as he could—six of the original holes are now back in play. He also restored several dilapidated stone footbridges crossing the San Antonio River. A narrow serpentine pond, created to replicate a former tributary, cuts in front of the new greens at ten, seventeen and eighteen.

The course was stretched to 6,500 yards, but Brackenridge Park still makes for a gentle stroll—just the way Tillinghast wanted it.

Architects: A. W. Tillinghast, 1916; John Colligan, 2008. Yardage: 6,185. Par: 71. Green Fees: $75–$85. Contact: 210-226-5612,