Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort makes smooth transition to 27 holes

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

SAN ANTONIO -If you're a fan of the original Arthur Hills-designed Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort, there's great news- there are nine new holes and they fit in seamlessly with the original 18.

And like the original 18, they can also be tough, with the Texas Hill Country pinching in the fairways, requiring one to think his or her way around the golf course instead of just blasting away off the tee. Most of the 27 holes force players to consider landing areas, the hazards and how good their golf swing feels that day.

And unlike most courses with additions, the Hyatt didn't just add another nine, it integrated the holes-seven on what's now called the Creek Course and two more on the Lake Course, to give the entire golf course and resort a new feel. The other nine is the Oaks and the names refer to the dominant features of each course, including a new lake that was constructed. The new configuration was unveiled this May.

"Guests now have the opportunity to play three different courses," said Director of Golf Susie Davis-Womack, who came over at the beginning of the year after serving as assistant general manager at Canyon Springs Golf Club across town. "Now you have Creeks-to-Lakes, Lakes-to-Oaks and Oaks-to-Creeks."

For the record, the combination play as the following par 72s: Lakes/Oaks-6,940 yards with a slope/rating of 73.7/136; Lakes/Creeks-6,932 (73.7/132) and Creeks/Oaks-6.867 (73.3/131).

A true resort course, none of the course is obscured by homes, just plenty of mesquite trees, native grasses, cacti and a few streams and ponds. And, there's plenty of rolling hills and vistas, including a view of nearby Sea World and one of its roller coasters, the Steel Eel (highly recommended if you get the chance to visit the theme park across State Hwy 151.)

The nine holes most affected by the addition, which was also commissioned by Hills, is the Creek nine. It features all new holes except the first and ninth. Perhaps the hardest is the fifth, a 472-yard par 4 from the tips with water off the tee. It has a narrow fairway that feeds to the right.

"The green is one of our smaller greens with surrounding approach bunkers," Davis-Womack says. "Definitely not forgiving."

But the best may be the fourth, a meandering 532-yard par 5 with mounding on the right that tends to direct stray tee shots back to the center. A carefully placed second shot between the lake and native rough sets up a short shot to a green protected on left by a large bunker and in front of the lake.

"It's got everything from tee to green - double dogleg - bunkers, lakes, lateral hazards lining the fairway and an approach shot that will make you think twice," Davis-Womack said.

The addition of another par 4 and par 5 on the Lakes Course give that nine a nice kick, Davis-Womack said. "The last 4 holes on the Lakes course are incredible finishing holes with three of the holes having water that comes into play," she said.

Having an additional nine holes also helps in terms of improving maintenance.

"We are able to have 18 holes pristine holes available for our guests, while nine holes are being manicured," Davis-Womack said. "We also have the opportunity to manipulate the course combinations daily to maximize course usage to increase rounds. A full shotgun can now be upwards of 216 people instead of the 144 maximum. It's been great for local charity events."

The verdict

The Hyatt Hill Country Resort is upscale golf, which means green fees between $125 and $145. You'd rightfully expect a lot, but you'll have to look beyond great conditioning, which this course certainly offers, to know if you got your money's worth.

Instead, you may want to consider the unique layout and topography. Hyatt Hill Country is unlike anything else you'll find in Texas. Varying greens with subtle undulations combined with the fact that no two holes are alike give true meaning to the phrase "use every club in the bag."

There are holes that you can blast away with the driver, like the ninth hole on the Lakes Course, but there aren't many. You'll find yourself, if you're smart, hitting a variety of irons and fairway woods off the tees and every iron in the bag on approach shots and around the greens. There's a great variety of par 3s, by the way.

Still, don't get spooked into thinking the course is too hard. Again, with a little thought, the course is manageable. However, for enjoyment and pace of play, you might want to the play thickly grassed areas that surround the fairways as lateral hazards if they're not already marked as such, especially if you have some high handicappers in your group.

"Every hole is presented before you. There are no tricks or gimmicks" Davis-Womack said. "This is an extremely playable course that makes for a leisurely round."

As you long as you don't fight the design.

Places to stay

The Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort has several packages available starting from about $250 a night per person. If you're traveling to San Antonio and want to play the course, that's probably your best option, considering the green fees (guests get a discount over the walk-up rate).

Located on the former Rogers-Wiseman ranch, this 200-acre wooded escape is just directly across from Sea World of Texas, 15 minutes from Six Flags Fiesta Texas Theme Park and 20 minutes from downtown San Antonio and the renowned San Antonio River Walk and the historic Alamo. The resort includes 500 guestrooms, 58 suites, 33,000 square feet of meeting space and a pool area that includes the Ramblin'River water ride. Call (210) 647-1234 to book a stay.

Places to eat

The resort features four restaurants and a lounge, all of which serve tasty cuisine ranging from formal to casual local fare. But if you're looking to go off-campus, San Antonio offers some of the best Mexican and Tex-Mex on the planet. Some recommendations:

Casa Rio
430 E. Commerce
Phone: (210) 225-6718

La Margarita
120 Produce Row at Market Square
Phone: (210) 227-7140

Tomatillo's Cafe and Cantina
3210 Broadway
Phone: (210) 824-3005

Rosario's
1014 S. Alamo
Phone: (210) 223-1806

Mike BaileyMike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in the Houston area. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 20 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @Accidentlgolfer.


Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Golf Course

    Sandra B. wrote on: Apr 29, 2009

    I enjoyed the golf course and Susie was very helpful in explaining the course. You need more good people like Susie!

    Reply

  • Why don't you

    Big Jake wrote on: Jun 15, 2005

    Why don't you make Mike Bailey write hatchet jobs about golf courses like McDougal and Baldwing? He sounds like one of those "Travel writers from the foofy lifestyle mags to golf, are nothing more than a bunch scum sucking maggots," the Rebel writes about. Why don't you require Bailey to write negative stuff?

    Reply