Canyon Springs Golf Club is becoming a San Antonio destination play
SAN ANTONIO -- Nothing says "welcome to the Texas Hill Country" like passing two mighty longhorns on the way to the first tee.
That's the first impression at Canyon Springs Golf Club, one of San Antonio's upscale daily-fee golf courses.
The welcoming cattle, named Rebel and Sunray, complete a golf experience that takes its ranch history seriously. The club, now part of the growing northwest suburbs of San Antonio, was the Classen Homestead dating back to the days of Abraham Lincoln.
The buildings for the restaurant, pro shop and cart barn are all built from original ranch stone. This spot was also the second stop out of San Antonio on the old stagecoach trail, and original troughs from that era are still on property.
Ignacio Vela, general manager at Canyon Springs, said the golf course is seeing an increased amount of non-residents, corporate groups and day trippers coming to Canyon Springs to enjoy its Hill Country authenticity. And they're continuing to develop the product. This summer, cart girls will be decked out in boots and cowboy hats, and staff members will also sport a cowboy look.
So just how much Texas inspiration are they gunning for? They're thinking big.
"We're finalizing details on having someone lead shotgun starts out on a horse and shoot off an actual shotgun," notes Ignacio Vela, who added blanks -- and local police approval -- would be necessary to kick off this concept.
Other upcoming enhancements to the experience include a new, Texas-inspired menu coming to the saloon, complete with Chicken Fried Steak and Hill Country barbecue dishes.
Canyon Springs: The golf course
The golf course itself doesn't need any of this Texas flair to be a top San Antonio golf course. It's a qualifying course for the Champions Tour's AT&T Championship, staged at Oak Hill Country Club each year. Designed by Thomas Walker, the layout plays 7,077 yards from the championship tees with four forward sets.
The first hole is as welcoming as a roadside barbecue truck. It's short and downhill with lots of room. The way the kids hit it these days, they could probably take aim at the green. But most of us are better off with a nice, smooth swing leaving a wedge in.
Fairways are generous throughout the course, with pecan and oak trees lining some, while more links-inspired high grass lines others. The greens are especially interesting, some of which can be up to three clubs deep. For these holes, the GPS units on golf carts will come in handy often for pin locations and distances.
The sixth hole is the most "designed" of the holes at Canyon Springs. This short par 4 has both left and right fairways and an extremely wide green at the top. Your choice of which fairway to take will probably be dependent on where the flag is located, which you should be able to identify from the elevated tee.
The sixth is a fun tee shot, but the best tee of the lot kicks off the back nine. The par-5 10th plays from a high tee up by the "Cliff Haus" (or halfway house to us non-Hill Country natives) and demands a long carry over a ravine to safety.
Canyon Springs Golf Club: The verdict
While not as nationally known as the city's resorts such as TPC San Antonio, the Westin La Cantera or Hyatt Hill Country, Canyon Springs is one of the city's top daily-fee operations.
Now just more than a decade old, some on-course upkeep is coming this summer. Improvements include rebuilding the bunkers and leveling the tee boxes on the par 3s.
Stay and play in San Antonio
Canyon Springs is located in San Antonio's northwest side, just north of the 1604 loop and in the vicinity of the Westin La Cantera Resort.
La Cantera features two 18-hole courses, including former Valero Texas Open host, the Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf-designed Resort Course. This 500-plus-room property is fresh off a multi-million dollar renovation to guest rooms and public areas. Guests will especially enjoy the resort's culinary scene, with a handful of different restaurants celebrating local Hill Country flavors.
Also nearby is the new JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort, a 1,001-room property with multiple dining and bar options and some of the most tech-savvy features in guest rooms and public areas that you'll ever see in any hotel property.
The High Velocity Sports Bar has a must-see-to-believe main screen to enjoy over one of its many draft beers. Guests at the JW Marriott have exclusive access to the private TPC San Antonio.
April 25, 2011