Hyatt Hill Country Resort: Texas, Southwestern Hospitality Surrounds You

By David R. Holland, Contributor

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- Ed Wiseman first walked the land that is now home to the Hyatt Hill Country Resort in 1933 as a young cowboy from LaVernia in Wilson County, Texas -- a place his family had farmed and ranched since 1851.

But Wiseman found this 2,700 acres in west San Antonio even more special than his home. He fell in love with its creeks, steep wildflower-covered hillsides, rocky ravines, rolling meadows, redbuds and live oaks on shady plateaus, serene lakes and ponds.

The he fell in love a second time. As a cowhand on the Rogers Ranch he worked for "Aunt" Mary Rogers, and met Blanche Rogers. They married a year later.

Under the management of Wiseman, the ranch survived through the lean years after the Depression and then began to prosper as he focused on sustainable land management and animal husbandry, raising cattle and crops such as corn, sorghum and oats.

In 1990, the Rogers-Wiseman family, with more than 100 years managing the land, sold 200 acres for the development of the Hyatt Hill Country Resort.

Today, the Hill Country Resort is selling Texas hospitality and Charlie Kent, director of golf, thinks that's enhanced by the history of the ranch being told at every turn in the hotel. Papa Ed's, Charlie's Long Bar and Aunt Mary's Porch are just a few of the restaurants and watering holes that tell the history of the ranch. Walk the halls and find more history hanging on the walls.

"The first thing we hear from our visitors is that they like the peace and quiet," said Kent. "We are out in the country, there are no traffic noises right out your back door and it's a stress reducer. The golfers like the western cowboy theme with the barn wood, the Hill Country architecture, windmill symbols and they like the conditions of the golf course with the overseeding we do in the winter.

"I think the real challenge of the golf course that Arthur Hills designed comes from its use of the land," Kent said. "The greens are rolling like the land around here, but there are no tiers. When you get to a hole that has a small green, it's tough to score. You also have lots of dry creek beds that come in to play and some of the native live oaks that will hang in your line of flight."

Looking for a golf course without home construction and noisy carpenters? This is the one. There are few new courses today where you can enjoy the peace and serenity.

The track measures 6,913 yards at par 72 with eight holes facing water challenges. No. 6, a 216-yard par 3 is tough enough for its length, but the green, built into a horseshoe-shaped land form, is long in width and narrow in depth. It's hard to hold especially with the trap centered and in front.

Strategy is a must on No. 8, a 563-yard par 5. There's water all down the left side and your tee shot can bite off some of the water for distance. But most clear-thinking golfers will go for the right side of the fairway. The next shot is "go for it or lay up" with a dry creek bed bisecting the fairway. The pin is also tucked right, with a lake right of the green, so the correct position, on the left side of the fairway, is mandatory.

No. 9, the second par-5 hole in a row, is 554 yards. A nice draw will kick your ball further downhill and there's another dry creek bed you have to negotiate -- either lay up behind or hit solidly over it on the second shot.

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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