Review and Rating of the Max (Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course) in Laredo
Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course opened to rave reviews in 2013. Known as "Max", the course cuts through the sandy terrain on over 270 acres of rugged south Texas landscape with the style and beauty of a ballet folklorico dance. The course leverages the natural gently rolling terrain which is home to two deep arroyos that will come into play on six holes and the Rio Grande River that lines 4 of the holes with a beautiful view of the river and into Mexico. Contributing to the beauty of this course are the 100 year old mesquite trees and other desert flora that litter the landscape and line many of the fairways. Combine the scenic beauty with excellent conditions from tee box to the cup, a layout that is fair but challenging, greens that are near perfect, and reasonable rates plus excellent friendly service, the result is a memorable and fun round of golf.
The Max is owned by the City of Laredo and managed by Landscapes Unlimited who has done a great job since taking over in 2015. Proof of that is evident in the conditions of the Max, the high level of quality service, and the attention to detail. All of which has helped the Max achieve some significant recognition and well deserved awards and accolades, some of which include:
The Max has 5 sets of tee boxes with yardages ranging from 4769 to 7220 yards. The fairways are wide and forgiving with no surprises and the rough is wide and playable, but the greens can add quite a few extra strokes to your round - spend some time on the putting green and remember that the greens will break toward the Rio Grande River.
Robert Trend Jones sculpted a fantastic layout that offers a little of everything that keeps us coming back for another round - dog legs left and right, risk reward opportunities, some minor ups and downs, trees and arroyos to contend with, and very demanding green complexes. Some of our favorite holes included:
Part of the joy of playing the Max are the conditions which are very good from tee to cup. The Max fairways were in excellent condition and I felt guilty taking a divot. The fairways are ample with a wide playable rough (also in perfect condition) and the ball tends to sit on top of the dense grass. Miss the rough and you're lost in the native tall grass and brush.
To score well on the Max you need to know how to read the greens which is not that easy. There is plenty of slope and contour, tiers and ridges, and lots of unexpected subtle breaks. The good news is that the greens are in very good condition (a couple had some weather damage), run smooth, hold the ball well, and ran at a good speed of around 9 or so. The greens at the Max are a variety of shapes and sizes and range from 27 to 42 yards deep. Pin placement can be challenging.
The bunkers range from average size to a couple huge monsters. The sand is good on the front nine but the back need needs some work which is in the planning stages. The faces range from a few inches to very steep which can be troublesome.
Bottom line - one of the best courses in Texas and you need to go out of your way to play the Max - excellent conditions, near perfect greens, a fun layout, top notch service, very affordable rates, and a great clubhouse with a bar and grill with very good food.
All photos are thanks to Dave Sansom Photography.
From the General Manager - Dennis Gutierrez
We offer the "Play Golf Laredo" for all Laredoans that are beginning golfers. The program is also open to Border Patrol agents and some high school players but is not limited to any one person. It is a 5 week program that goes over the fundamentals of golf and covers everything from etiquette to rules. We play 3 to 6 holes together the final week of the class. The class is offered 4-5 times a year depending on availability and our schedule.
Rates: $37.00 to $49.00
Beautiful 9000 square foot clubhouse with a well stocked Pro Shop, full bar, Las Islitas Grill with lots of good choices from sliders to fajitas, burgers, sandwiches, and more. Service is excellent and the practice facilites are good.
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!
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.