A.W. Tillinghast golf courses are well represented in San Antonio, including new muni refurb Brackenridge Park
I got my first look at an A.W. Tillinghast design yesterday in San Antonio at Brackenridge Park Golf Course.
I’m surprised I haven’t played a Tillinghast before (I’ve played a Tillinghast-inspired course, Shaftesbury Glen near Myrtle Beach), but I think that’s because I’m a Midwestern native and lived in South Carolina for awhile, and he didn’t have an imprint in those parts region like he did in the northeast. The designs he did do in Ohio and Michigan, like PGA Championship host Inverness, are mostly private.
Click here for Wikipedia’s full list of Tillinghast designs.
San Antonio, where I was on a golf trip the last few days in preparation for the Valero Texas Open at the La Cantera Resort, has three Tillinghast courses, and one more out at nearby Fort Sam Houston (which now offers public tee times, too). Two of these designs, Oak Hills and San Antonio C.C. are private, while Brackenridge Park Golf Course is a muni that went under the knife in 2008, restoring the course to 15 of the original Tillinghast-designed holes.
On Monday, the course finally opened up their tee sheet as usual (after a few months of 15-20 minute tee time intervals to allow the course to grow in more), and will be a heavily-trafficked course by both locals and visitors to San Antonio’s extensive golf scene. While there are some newer, flashy resort courses in town like La Cantera’s Palmer Course and the Hill Country Golf Club, Brackenridge scores aces in the nostalgia and should be included in anyone’s Alamo City itinerary.
I’m a tremendous fan of classic golf courses for a few reasons. First off, they’re on less acreage and cost less to build, which generally means lower green fees. I also admire a course that can defend itself despite having modest yardage - and I feel the classic courses use trees to frame holes better than many of the new breed architects. These are all reasons why Brackenridge is so much fun. A golfer with a 250-plus yard tee ball is only going to hit about three drivers here. In fact, you may use every club in your bag off the tee here.
For me, the most difficult thing about Brackenridge was the raised greens and their deep bunkers guarding them. For starters, most of the pins’ visibility was difficult because you couldn’t really figure out how deep the hole was on a lot of greens, because you’re hitting up to so many of them.
As a result, I hit very few shots pin-high, missing 120-150 yard shots both long and short. These greens, about a third of which are square in shape, are the primary defense on a course that is just under 6,300 yards from the back tees.
I also played pinball in the trees on one hole en route to a quadruple bogey. That said, the course is for the most part an “easy bogey, tough par” kind of course. I didn’t lose any balls during 18 holes, and I’d be hard pressed to remember the last time that happened…
Stay tuned for a full review of the revamped Brackenridge Park, plus plenty more on and off the golf course in San Antonio.
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