SugarTree Golf Club: Historic Brazos land equals hidden gem

By David R. Holland, Contributor

DENNIS, Texas -- From the lofty elevated 14th green at SugarTree Golf Club, it's not hard to imagine early Texas pioneers relaxing here back in the 1890s enjoying a picnic basket and watching the sunset over one of the state's most storied rivers -- the Brazos.

Close to this very spot back in 1892 a group of cotton farmers and cattle ranchers celebrated the opening of a cable suspension bridge over the river that made their attempt at profitable commerce a bit easier. Dennis was a bustling little town, near Weatherford, that had two mercantile stores, a cotton gin, post office and blacksmith shop. The old barn of the original Dennis estate still sits left of the 15th fairway and there's remnants of an old school house.

Today, the land lives on thanks to visions by Phil Lumsden, the initial owner and golf-course designer and Bill Bowerman, the current owner. SugarTree is one of Texas' true hidden gems, located in the Metroplex boondocks -- an ideal getaway for city golfers longing for the country.

In a vote by Lone Star club pros, SugarTree was selected No. 18 in Texas, and it has been named one of 10 hidden gems by It also holds Golf Digest's four-star rating.

This 6,774-yard, par-71 layout skirts the banks of the Brazos River with 55 sand bunkers, water features and tight, challenging fairways lined by live oaks, hackberry trees, pecans and others. Water comes into play on 13 holes and accuracy is a must as you must bend tee shots left and right. Watch for deer and wild turkey sightings at any time.

No. 14 is a rigid 524-yard par-5 that requires pinpoint accuracy. A hundred yards out is perfect for the daunting third shot to the elevated green that is deep and not so wide. After your par putt snap a photo of the green and the spectacular view of the sandy edges of the curving Brazos River.

Follow that beauty with a short par 4 of 338 yards, but beware of its hidden dangers. Just a solid iron shot from the tee will get you within a breath of birdie time. But the approach doesn't show you there'sd no-man's land behind and left of the green in the form of a steep drop to one of the Brazos' tributaries.

No. 12 is another scenic water-hole par 3 that measures 210 from the back and has a paddle wheel incorporated into a rock wall. When you reach the green you will see cascading water from the green's edge into the pool below.

SugarTree has hosted a U.S. Senior Men's Open qualifier and also has a housing development that includes acre lots and an aim to keep most of the routing void of houses bumping the fairways.

After your round relax in the grill where the hamburgers are reported as the best for miles around.

The verdict

SugarTree is one of the best places in Texas for city slickers to escape traffic gridlock and enjoy a weekday away from the big city or a lazy weekend of relaxing and playing golf. This is the country, folks, and the golf is challenging with narrow fairways that make the low- or high-handicapper stop and ask if he should put the driver back in the bag. A super friendly staff makes this one of the must-plays of the Lone Star State. When it is time to schedule your next family reunion consider The Retreat. You will have a blast.

Stay and play

The Golf Retreat at SugarTree is only 10 minutes from Weatherford, 30 minutes west of Fort Worth and 25 minutes to historic Granbury. SugarTree has two homes on a 21-acre private, executive course that sits elevated on the south bank of the Brazos River. This facility is located adjacent to the SugarTree Golf Course and features an island green. Golf Retreat packages include sole and unlimited use of the executive course which includes a putting green and driving range. Also included are two picnic areas, side by side horseshoe pits, and a campfire area for you to enjoy a sunset that looks over the Brazos River. You will also have the use of a golf cart during your stay.

"The Barn" has four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The master room has a king-size bed and large private bathroom; the other upstairs room has a queen bed and a private bathroom. The two downstairs rooms share a bathroom. The first downstairs room has a queen-size bed. The second downstairs room has two twin beds, and an awesome view of the private course. There is also a game room upstairs with two twin beds (and a rollaway) for extra sleeping space. "The Cottage" has three bedrooms, two and one-half bathrooms. The master bedroom is downstairs, has a king-sized bed and a private bathroom. Both rooms upstairs share a bathroom. One upstairs room has two twin beds. The other has twin beds for four people. Both beautifully decorated homes have fully equipped kitchens with open style living and dining areas, along with Satellite Dish service in the Master Suites and Living Areas. For rates or more information call.

Side trip to Weatherford

Nearby Weatherford has a historic shopping district full of antique, boutique and specialty stores. Look for tasty peaches in late summer and fall at the old-time Farmers' Market and take in First Monday Trades Days along with a bounty of Victorian-era homes. The Parker County Courthouse, recently restored to its original splendor, is a jewel of Texas architecture. Chandor Gardens is Weatherford's English-styled gardens. Built by famed English portrait artist Douglas Chandor for his Weatherford bride, the Gardens are an ornate design of Chinese architecture. It includes a 30-foot waterfall, soothing fountains, and a bowling green. Log on to for more information.

Fast Fact

Phil Lumsden has a second design to his portfolio -- Aledo's Split Rail Links and Golf Club.

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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