Golf and recreation are hot at JW Marriott Hill Country Resort in San Antonio
Six months after the opening of the TPC San Antonio and the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa, I can report two things: this 1,000-room resort is already extremely popular, and the golf courses haven’t gotten any easier.
On Sunday and Monday, the TPC and JW Marriott played host to the Texas Golf Writers Association. We were treated well, of course, but most noteworthy is that it doesn’t seem like the resort is having any trouble filling rooms.
Perhaps that’s because of the resort’s amenities, like its lounges and sports bar, spa and incredible water park. I passed a young woman coming out of the fitness room and couldn’t help but overhear her cell phone conversation:
“You have to see this place to believe it. This is a magnificent hotel. It’s huge.”
Indeed, the rooms are state-of-the-art with big, flat-screen high definition programming, the spa is world-class and there is terrific dining as well as 140,000 square feet of meeting space (which is really impressive).
On Sunday, this place was hopping with people coming and going. And the water park, which features a lazy river and four waterslides, was filled with kids and adults alike, enjoying San Antonio’s warm summer temperatures.
As for the golf, this is my third go-round. I already knew TPC San Antonio’s AT&T Oaks Course, designed by Greg Norman with Sergio Garcia, was tough. Just ask the tour players who competed in the Valero Texas Open there this spring.
What I didn’t expect was that the AT&T Canyons Course would play as difficult as it did. A combination of wind and course maturity humbled most of us. For example, my group, which consisted of four alleged single-digit handicaps, failed to post one sub-90 score.
I went into this thing thinking that the Canyons Course, designed by Pete Dye with Bruce Lietzke, would be quite a bit easier than the Oaks. While I still agree with that assessment because the fairways are larger and the course is shorter, the course is tougher than it was when it opened in January, primarily because it plays faster and the native grasses have grown in around the cart paths.
Given that it’s a resort course, I guess I’d like to see them mow that grass back a bit. On one of the few holes on which I initially hit a fairway, I watched the ball kick left and trickle over the cart path no more than a foot into the high grass. I never found the ball, perhaps too much of a penalty for what appeared to be a pretty good tee shot.
Mowing that native grass a few more feet from the cart path might make it more enjoyable, and it would speed play a bit, too. With that said, both courses are excellent tests; just be sure to bring your “A” game and plenty of ammo.
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