Escape to Big Bend and Lajitas, Texas, for breathtaking golf in the Old West
LAJITAS, Texas – My first thought when I saw the new Black Jack’s Crossing Golf Course at Lajitas Resort & Spa next to Big Bend National Park was that I couldn’t believe there was a golf course here.
I remember coming here as a teenager on backpacking and camping trips, and these badlands in the Davis Mountains were as unspoiled as one could imagine. With temperatures way above 110 in the summer, it’s a test of endurance when you’re lugging a pack and canteen across 20 or 30 miles. Activities like golf never crossed my mind.
But when you think about it, Palm Springs isn’t exactly the most hospitable natural environment either. And like Palm Springs, Lajitas is a wonderful destination from October to April. Temperatures were still in the 90s this past weekend when I checked out Lanny Wadkins’ wonderful Black Jack’s Crossing course, but in the 50s at night, perfect for a cigar out on the porch of the Thirsty Goat Saloon as a group of us solved all the world’s problems.
I was fortunate enough to hitch a ride out of Dallas on a private jet courtesy of Lajitas’ owner, Texas billionaire Kelcy Warren. For most people, though, this isn’t easy to get to, so to make this trip worthwhile, the golf course and other amenities have to be special.
I promise you there is no golf course like this in Texas, nothing even close. I’m not saying it’s the best golf course in the state – the paspalum grass still needs to mature a little, for one – but it’s a special experience.
There are at least seven elevated tees, where you can see 40 or 50 miles in almost every direction. The mountains, buttes, mesas and other rock formations (lajitas means flat stones) are breathtaking. The tee shots are exhilarating, and Wadkins created a golf course where every hole is memorable. Add to that the history behind this place (Lajitas was once a cavalry post), the excellent restaurant and saloons, the old west town setup, comfortable accommodations and a host of other activities here – including trap shooting, hunting, horseback riding and rafting down the Rio Grande – and you’ve got one heck of an escape.
The 7,400-yard course – named for General John Black Jack Pershing, who chased Pancho Villa around in these parts – is actually the second course here. The original course washed away in a 500-year flood back in 2008. By all accounts, this one is much better, though I never played the original.
What I do know is that this is one of the coolest golf courses I’ve ever lost a ball on, in one of the most unique settings in the country. My next trip here will probably involve a commercial flight to Midland and four-hour drive south – or even a nine-hour drive from Houston – but it would be well worth it. Lajitas is one fun ride.
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