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Rio Colorado Golf Club Review

Texas Outside Rating: 7.8

Golf - Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Bay City
Website · Locate This Course
Online Specials · Discounted Tee Times
Date Last Played: November 29, 2011

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Rio Colorado Golf Club Review

Designed by Gary Player, Rio Colorado Golf Club opened for play in 1994.   Rio Colorado is one of the those golf courses that if you can keep the ball in the fairway avoiding the water on 16 holes and stay out of bounds, you'll have an enjoyable round of golf at a very good value.  If you tend to spray the ball it may be a costly and frustrating round.  

The front nine at Rio Colorado Golf Club is the easier of the nines and is very open and forgiving.  However, the prevailing winds, water, on nine holes, and 23 bunkers force you to pay attention and choose clubs that provide accuracy rather than distance.   The front nine has 3 par 3s, 3 par 5s, and 3 par 4s which makes this nine interesting.   You'll also find some fun holes like #1 which is a 438 par 5 that takes a 90 degree turn left around a lake, has two fairway bunkers on the right side of the fairway and based on the length of your drive you will most likely have an opportunity to risk it and fly the lake to the green or play safe and follow the lake to the green with water and two more bunkers plus a steep slope toward the water; and  #5, the #1 handicap hole, is only 370 yards but trees on the left and a lone tree on the right side of the fairway pinch the fairway off the tee box and then you need to be accurate to avoid the water and two bunkers that guard the green.  

The back nine at Rio Colorado Golf Club is more fun, scenic, and challenging with some very fun and interesting holes.   The back nine seems tighter with tree lined fairways, water on six holes, several out of bounds, and some fairway bunkers as well as bunkers guarding your approach shot to the green.   Our favorite holes on this nine include:

  • #13 a 416 yard par 5 that requires accuracy tee to green and a good strategy to avoid the water crossing in front of the green about 100 yards out 
  • the signature hole, #14 plays above the banks of the Colorado River (miss the fairway by 10 feet or so on the right and you're gone) and takes a turn right to a green with two small oval bunkers on the left and the steep drop off to the river on the right - leave the big dogs in the bag and use an iron or short fairway wood off the tee on this fun 328 yard par 5
  • 17 is also a great hole - 393 yard par 4 with water tee to green, two strategically place fairway bunkers that pinch the landing zone, and a challenging approach to a green with water and two bunkers on the left plus mounding on all sides that makes for a challenging up and down shot if you miss the green

The fairways at Rio Colorado Golf Club range from ample on the front to a little tight on the back nine.  The harsh winter, severe drought, and record heat had taken a toll on the rough and fairways but they were still very playable.  The roughs are wide but if you miss them you're in the trees, wet, in a natural area and lost, or out of bounds.  The roughs suffered the most thanks to the harsh conditions and were pretty rough.

The greens ranged in shape and size for average to huge - but I still had a hard time nailing them - and all had a wide puttable fringe with lots of slope and contour. Most of the Rio Colorado Golf Club greens had some slope and minor undulation and a few subtle breaks.  They seemed a little slow and were a tad bumpy but overall in very good condition. Most are well guarded with a bunker or two, water, mounding, slope away from the green, or grass bunkers.

The bunkers were wet thanks to a rain (wow, it still knows how to do that occasionally!) and not playable.  The sand looked like it was soft and thick.  The lips were small and very manageable and in some cases you might get lucky and roll out. 

Bottom line - a fun track that is very fair, fun, and at times demanding with some great holes, good conditions, and a great value.

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Gold 6,855 73.1 127
Blue 6,303 70.4 118
White 5,731 67.7 114
Red 5,079 69.1 116

Course Information

Course Architect:
Gary Player Design Company
Greens Type:
Bermuda
Greens Condition
8.3
Greens Difficulty
7.5
Fairway Condition
7.0
Bunker Condition
8.0
GPS:
No
Walkable:
Easy
Scorecard
Beware of water on 16 holes and the 43 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
7.8 out of 10
Beauty:
7.5
Difficulty:
8.0
Variety:
7.5
Fun to Play:
8.0
Value:
8.5
Condition:
7.5
Front Nine Rating:
7.5
Back Nine Rating:
8.3
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FEES & AMENITIES

Approximate Weekend
Rates:
$29.00 to $39.00

The facilities are a little dated, the pro shop has the basics, and the putting green and driving range are adequate. Service is country friendly.

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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.