Live oaks – yes! Hills, not so much
9 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This is a well-designed, varied, and challenging course in a lovely park. Fairways are fair, but getting out of position can cost you strokes. Nice mix of short technical holes and long bombers. For example, the red (short) tees have eleven holes < 250', three holes > 500', and zero holes between 250' and 370'. The blue (long) tees range from 192' to 912', with zero holes between 350' and 560'.
Wide-spreading live oaks and cedars frame tees beautifully, define fairways, and create a low ceiling for many drives and approaches. Early trouble on many tees, but all gaps seemed fair to me (and I was not throwing particularly well lol).
Excellent concrete teepads on all blue and red tees. Level baskets caught well and featured a highly visible yellow band. Excellent signs on the long tees describe the distance and layout for each hole. The short tees have posts so I would guess that short teepad signs will be forthcoming.
Super-easy navigation for an out-of-town player. Most tees were not far from the previous basket, and helpful directional signs were posted wherever the next tee location was not obvious.
Hole 19 is a nice respite after a challenging round.
I enjoyed playing here very much. Live oaks, cedars, and weird zebra-banded trees throughout. Prickly pear cactus growing on horizontal tree limbs. Massive drainage culverts betray the possibility of flash flooding, but serve skateboarders when dry.
Cons: I found myself wishing for more elevation on this course. The available hills were used well, but sometimes it is just a ton of fun to try threading a big downhill bomb through tree-lined fairways (and a ton of challenge to throw back up steep hills). But the available landscape was used very well.
Loose rocks on the fairways make footing a bit tricky so watch your step, especially on slopes.
Manageable safety issues on a couple of holes. When the course is crowded it would be prudent to check ahead before throwing over blind hills. Two of the holes (4 and 7, I think) were close enough that stray shots could fly into the adjacent fairway.
Lots of friendly dogs out for walks, but unfortunately not everyone picks up after their pooch.
Other Thoughts: From a mid-Atlantic perspective, "very hilly and heavily wooded" is an overstatement. I would say moderately hilly and moderately wooded, although the modest elevation changes were used well and the course features several tight, technical holes.
I played mostly long tees, but the course was not crowded so on the short holes I threw a second drive from the red (short) tees trying to run aces. Scared the basket a couple of times but no joy, sadly.
For a 300-ish throwing old guy the fairways were quite manageable. The course seems designed to challenge bigger arms, though, and I expect the fairways would be more of a test for longer drives.
The course does not loop back to the parking lot midway, so bring plenty of water during hot weather.
The course was well-maintained and I had no difficulty finding errant drives in February. I don't know whether the rough is more inclined to eat discs at different times of the year.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This is just about everything you can want in a course. Holes are memorable, enjoyable, and diverse. I especially enjoyed the touchy short holes where you have to clear a hill in the fairway then get it to settle as the hole runs downhill past the basket (3 and 11). Playing through the fork of a tree on 7 is another great one. The course is challenging and long from the long tees, and very approachable from the short tees. I threw pretty much every shot I have in two rounds here. While I think the hills are a little overstated (I'd call it moderately hilly), they're used very well and definitely dictate shot choice. The tee pads, signage, and baskets are excellent, with all tees now being concrete. The park seemed really well maintained.
Cons: I consider myself an intermediate player, and I thought the long tees were a little too difficult, especially on the long holes. At the same time, I thought on some of the shorter holes that short tees were too short or took away too much of what made the hole special. On 3 and 11, the short tees eliminated the uphill. Differences between the two are often 200+ ft. If there's a detraction on shot variance, it's that I seemed to have too many shots where I was just trying to keep it as straight as possible on the long holes. There's currently no signage on the short tees, but they have posts, so I'm assuming signs are coming soon.
Other Thoughts: This was a really solid course, and I'd love to play it many times over. I'd like to see an official intermediate set of tees, which could work well using a mix of the existing tees. White tees could just be a stripe on the post next to the tee you're supposed to play. For the most part, it'd be the short tees on long holes and the long tees on short holes. The 19th hole doesn't feel like it should be part of the round, but seems like a good place to warm up or take true beginners for their first outing.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 0 Not
Oh Hill Yes!
Pros: The Live Oak Hill Course is another highly replayable Houck-designed gem focusing variety and difficulty into a stellar 18 plus one layout. Like Mr. Houck's other designs of the post-Selah era, the Hill Course is a master class in maximizing the available land to create the best possible product. Placement golf is a must, and players who reach for driver off the tee every time will find themselves in a world of hurt. With holes ranging from 192 to 912 feet from the longs, there's enough variety here to keep the player fully engaged, even if they're guessing about what's around the corner. There are hyzer holes. There are anhyzer holes. There are holes that play up a hill. There are holes that play down a hill. There are holes that do both. There are ace runs. There are punishing grinds. There are open holes. There are wooded holes. There are par 3's. There are par 4's. There are par 5's. You'll have to utilize your entire bag of tricks to score well here, and you'll have a great time doing it.
The real treasure of these holes comes when they start to get away from you. Doubling down on mental mistakes can cause your score to light up like a pinball machine, and effective scrambling is an absolute must on the wooded holes in particular. Sensible pitch outs and cut rollers will come in handy.
The Hill Course feels a bit more difficult than the standard Houck design, aiming more for the advanced/open player. The two par 5's (Holes 10 & 16) have real teeth, each requiring the player to hit two surprisingly small landing zones to set up a birdie look. Rec-level players like myself can seemingly only hope to control the damage, as I've walked away relieved with a double bogey on more than one occasion.
If the generalizations weren't enough to sway you, here's some highlights: Hole 2 is a downhill control shot that asks the player to sneak just under the live oak ceiling to a downward-sloping green that's difficult to stick. If you're a RHBH player, you'll want to hit your anny line perfectly...or else - a giant cactus patch dominates the left boundary of the fairway. Hole 15 is a borderline-cruel exercise in midrange control down a narrow fairway bordered by thick brush on either side. The green is elevated just enough to leave it short if you find yourself on tricky footing, or if you didn't net enough distance on the previous shot. Hole 18 is a beautiful uphill drive to one of two tiers in the side of the incline. Long arms that can get to the summit in one will have to dial the power back for a delicate upshot to a green that's well downhill and tighter than you might think.
Hole 19 is less of a part of the course and more like a tiebreaker hole to settle bets among friends. Some may dislike its tacked-on feeling, but I enjoy both the opportunity to get a stroke back after being lashed by the closing stretch and the idea of a little ace run to determine the day's champion. It's a social addition to a highly individual, mentally challenging course, and I dig it.
Most holes play to DISCatchers in good repair (see below). Long pads are concrete with top-notch HouckDesign tee signs.
Cons: Only the long pads are concrete, as the shorts are natural and marked only by a wooden post. Tee signs are only at the longs.
For reasons unknown, a small handful of baskets on the back of the course are missing their inner chains. Although not a deal breaker, it's still bizarre to go from modern, full-strength DISCatchers to throwback-style DISCatchers.
The routing isn't entirely intuitive, but the signage is excellent. First timers should be able to navigate without issue, and the second time through is a breeze.
Most of the course isn't a whole lot to look at, but the Hole 1 and (especially) Hole 18 bookends are pretty attractive for a park course.
Other Thoughts: It's not quite Harmony Bends, but this is as good as a mortal park course gets. Definitely add this one to your travel plans if you're in the San Antonio/Austin region.
Although I can't speak to it myself, maintenance may be a point of concern here. The Hill Course requires a lot less upkeep than the adjoining Lake Course, but there is evidence that a lack of routine care negatively affects the latter. The City of Live Oak has something special on their hands with these two routings, and it would be a shame for them to suffer due to negligence.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
6 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: - Challenging layout that rewards shot placement and requires risk / reward planning
- Great mix of shots required and nice flow from shorter holes to long holes. Almost like interval training for drives.
- Uses almost every bit of available park space
- Plenty of shade at most boxes
Cons: - Could use a little more signage at the back (14 pin to 15 tee, 16 overall and 16 pin to 17 tee) and tree-trimming but I believe it is still a work in progress. Take a picture of the map at the parking lot and problem solved!
- Long walk, which is subjective, but plan for it
Other Thoughts: I think this course is the best in the city hands down. The pars are accurate here. Shooting par requires skill and execution and is very satisfying unlike other area courses where you may be disappointed because you expect to shoot under with a lot of easy birdie opportunities. I love the tough but fair fairways in the woods, the distance required on the open par 4s, the use of elevation and overall experience of a round here. Great walk through the park. Great work Mr. Houck and City of Live Oak!
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
0 Helpful / 6 Not
Pros: Great variety of shots. Very challenging from the long placements.
Cons: Some of the pads need erosion protection. Some.of the walking paths are rocky.
Other Thoughts: Rewards shot placement and punishes you for mistakes. This isn't a casual course from the long pads and the short pads are dirt
0 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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