Highland Lakes Golf Course - Lago Vista Review

Texas Outside Rating: 8.3

Golf - Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Lago Vista
Website · Locate This Course
Date Last Played: March 20, 2017

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Highland Lakes Golf Course - Lago Vista Review

Review and Rating of Highland Lakes Golf Course in Lago Vista Texas

Highland Lakes Golf Course and its sister course, Lago Vista Golf Course (which is just down the road from Highland Lakes) were both designed by Leon Howard and opened in the 1970s and they are both currently owned by the City of Lago Vista.  Here is a link to our review and rating of Lago Vista Golf Course.

Here are just some of the reasons why we love Highland Lakes Golf Course:t

  • the layout leverages the natural rolling hill country terrain providing golfers with scenic views of the hill country and Lake Travis and creating some interesting shot making opportunitiest
  • the deer are everywhere and some are friendly enough to walk up and ask for something to eat out of your hand
  • you’ll find a little bit of everything that makes golf fun, frustrating, and challenging – elevation changes, carries, ravines, bunkers, dog legs, risk reward opportunities, and more
  • the course requires some shot making and good course management if you want to turn in a good scorer
  • reasonable rates for such a fun course

The front nine is a blast and the first hole sets the stage for what you can expect:

  • #1 is a 370 yard par 4 which a big downhill slope on a fairly tight fairway leading to the green with some mounding and a couple bunkers  – long hitters might try to go for the green but if you’re short you may end up against a rock retaining wall at 60 yards out from the green
  • #2 gives you your first glimpse of  the gleaming blue water of beautiful Lake Travis and you’ll see the lake several more times during your round
  • #7 is a fun 521 yard par 5 with a tight fairway from tee to green, a dog right and then a downhill shot to a small green with two bunkers at the bottom of the hill

We liked the back nine even more than the front thanks to a wide variety of interesting and challenging holes like:

  • #10 is a 360 yard downhill shot over a three tiered fairway leading to the green with a left and right and back bunker plus a steep drop off the back of the green – big accurate hitters can go for the green just don’t be long
  • #14 is the #1 handicap – 374 yards with an elevated tee shot to the dog left tight fairway, a creek along the entire left side, a big tree and bunker that can cause your drive a problem, and a rocky hill along the right side
  • #7 is a beautiful par 3 with a downhill shot over “Copperhead Canyon” to a small elevated sloping green guarded by three bunkers
  • #17 is really fun – a 519 yard par 5 with a wide open fairway off the tee, a dog left and tighter tapering fairway that enters a valley, and 5 bunkers and a rock retaining wall to avoid on the way to the deep two tiered green

The fairways weren’t in the best of condition – dry and thin with some weeds and bare spots.  Same with the rough and if you miss the rough you’re in the trees and lost or in a back yard.  Most of the fairways are tight and you need to manage the extra roll, wind, and elevation changes. 

The greens at Highland Lakes Golf Course are small to average size, several have one or more tiers and significant slope toward the front of the green.   Pin placement can be a killer as you watch your ball roll toward the pin and then back down the green past where you started the putt.  They were firm, dry, and fast when we played, and playable but not in the best condition.   The greens have at least one and up to five bunkers guarding them. 

There are 77 bunkers to worry about plus some small mounding/swales around the greens.  The bunkers need some TLC – the sand is gritty and thin and weeds are encroaching around the sides.  The bunkers range from small pot bunkers to about average size.  The lips also range in height so you might get lucky and bounce out or tall enough that making for a tough bunker shot. 

Bottom line – not the best of conditions but well worth playing because it’s fun, scenic, challenging, and home to some excellent holes.

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 6,520 72.2 137
Gold 6,538 70.9 134
Blue 5,849 69.0 128
White 5,122 65.8 121

Course Information

Course Architect:
Leon Howard
Greens Condition
5.0
Greens Difficulty
8.8
Fairway Condition
5.0
Bunker Condition
4.0
GPS:
No
Walkable:
Very Hilly
Scorecard
Beware of water on 1 holes and the 78 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
8.3 out of 10
Beauty:
9.5
Difficulty:
8.5
Variety:
9.0
Fun to Play:
9.0
Value:
8.5
Condition:
5.0
Front Nine Rating:
8.0
Back Nine Rating:
8.5
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FEES & AMENITIES

Approximate Weekend
Rates:
$20.00 to $45.00

There is no cart service, the club house is in a trailer with limited to no golf gear and snacks, drinks, and beer. There is a putting green and a driving net.

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Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking. 

 

About Texas Outside

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