Don't get lost in the sand dunes at windy Palmilla Beach Golf Club in Port Aransas
PORT ARANSAS, Texas -- The sand dunes are dramatic at Palmilla Beach Golf Club -- natural, wind-blown and rugged here next to the Gulf of Mexico.
Native grasses wave on this seaside links-like Arnold Palmer design on historic Mustang Island in a historic fishing town loaded with sportsman adventure opportunities for the travel golfer. Opened in 2008 as Newport Dunes Golf Club, this is a rare golf experience for Texas -- a place where you have a few ocean views.
"You can get away from the hustle and bustle of city life," said Jim Johnston, of San Antonio. "It is only two and a half hours from our home, and the golf is challenging, and the fishing and beach time makes it a great vacation."
Palmer said the site got his blood pumping when he first saw the acreage. The game of golf was born on the same styled landscapes in England, Scotland and Ireland.
The par-71 golf course stretches 6,821 yards from the tips and plays through Texas coastal sand dunes. It features warm gulf breezes, fast and rolling greens, and deep bunkers, some stacked and walled.
"The signature holes are nos. 13, 14 and 15," Palmer said. "These holes are located along the Gulf of Mexico and are routed through natural sand dunes. Each of the holes offers spectacular views of the beach and the ocean. The course is designed in the true links style with pot bunkers that are very similar to the classic courses such as St. Andrews."
Palmer said the courses are very windy with native dunes grasses, which contribute to the Scottish feel. "The differences between Scotland and this course are that the fairways are wider here, and the entire course is planted with paspalum, mowed at fairway height with no rough," he added. "We feel this will help the high handicap players and, in general, make the course enjoyable for golfers of all skill levels."
Palmilla Beach Golf Club: The course
Pay attention on the fifth hole, a par-5, 599-yarder. The tee shot is wide open, but then you face wind and a lake with the fairway going left then right on the approach shot. If you try and nail it over the lake make sure you are perfect or you will be wet.
Sand, seaside plants and a split fairway make up the eighth hole. It is only 346 yards, but a big mound splits the fairway. If you drive it straight into the mound you will have a blind shot but not that difficult approach to the green.
No. 13 is the signature hole -- a 148-yard par 3 with the Gulf of Mexico as the backdrop. This is a beauty into the prevailing seaside wind.
The next tee shot on No. 14 is elevated, but there’s a huge dune to the right where wayward shots often land. The green is tucked right over that dune with some deep pot bunkers ready to catch your errant shots on this 420-yard par 4.
Enjoy the coastal scenery
Yes, a beautiful day at Palmilla Beach is enjoyable, but keep in mind most windy days require creativity. Flight the ball low when its howling, and remember there are many ways to have a successful shot on links-like courses. Sometimes towering tee balls or approaches can be blown into the trouble.
Palmilla Beach has an awesome long boardwalk that leads to the Gulf of Mexico, and while you don’t see the water from many spots on the course, it’s a fun experience.
Port Aransas is the only established town on Mustang Island. It is located north of Padre Island and is one of the longest barrier islands along the Texas coast. Corpus Christi Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, the Lydia Ann Ship Channel and the Corpus Christi Ship Channel make up the surrounding waters.
Today's Port Aransas is a fishing mecca. But the beach and resort village comes alive with summer populations up to 60,000 or more.
Every April the city hosts an event called Sand Fest. This event brings thousands of people to watch sculptors build elaborate Sand Castles. There are food vendors, shopping and live music as well. All of the money raised from the event goes to the community and local schools.