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South Padre Island Golf Club Review

Texas Outside Rating: 8.4

Golf - Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Laguna Vista
Website · Locate This Course
· Discounted Tee Times · Stay & Play
Date Last Played: December 30, 2014

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South Padre Island Golf Club Review

Review & Rating of South Padre Island Golf Club - Laguna Vista

You can't leave the Rio Grande Valley or South Padre Island without playing at least one round at South Padre Island Golf Club.  This is a fun, challenging, and scenic course with some interesting and memorable holes.  The front nine is fantastic with holes three to seven playing along Laguna Madre Bay with views of South Padre Island.  The back nine leverages the local terrain and you'll need to keep your ball away from the native scrub brush, palm trees, cactus, natural sand areas, and away from the snakes. 

On both nines, to score well you'll have to manage the wind which was really howling when we played requiring us to club up or down at least one and usually two clubs and anticipate being pushed left or right or stopped short.  The good news is the wind can make some holes an easy birdie, but others can easily become a tough bogey.  Some examples of why we really enjoyed South Padre Island Golf Course include:

  • some scenic, yet challenging holes that play along Laguna Madre Bay with great views, like #3 which is a challenging 190 yard par 3 with a carry over water to a green with little room for error and #4 which parallels the Bay for 571 yards right into the wind when we played
  • a couple opportunities to test your risk reward tolerance - #5 is really scary looking from the tips and offers a great risk reward shot to try and carry the natural sand and brush to shorten this already short 335 par 4 or #16 which horseshoes right around the lake - how much do you think you can carry?
  • some tough approaches like #7 with water encroaching into the fairway and covering the left side of the green or #15 which has a turtle back elevated green which you'll find hard to hold
  • a variety of hazards that you don't find on your typical Texas courses like large natural sand areas, cactus, scrub brush, bay wetlands, and some challenging wind

In November 2013, a bank had taken over South Padre Island Golf Club from the previous owners who went bankrupt.  The bank brought in Touchstone, one of the best golf course management companies in the US,  to manage the course.  When they took over the course conditions from tee to cup were pretty rough and Touchstone has done an excellent job of improving the conditions - and has done a superb job with the greens.  We last played South Padre Island in late December of 2014 and it was cold, windy, and drizzly - which means we only got in 8 holes.  And the pictures are from those 8 holes.

The fairways are ample but if you miss them you could be in big trouble thanks to thick native grass, water, brush, and sand.  The fairways were partially dormant when we played in December and very firm - which did give us favorable roll.  Generally, they were in good condition with a few dirt and sandy spots along the edges.

The greens were in very good condition, ran smooth and true, and held the ball very well.  They range in size from small to average and are a variety of shapes.  The slope and contour isn't severe but you will encounter some spines and tiers.  We were told they normally run very fast - a 12 to 13 on the stimp meter.  However, we didn't think they were quite that fast but a 30 mile per hour wind clearly impacted our putting.

The bunkers had recently been redone and looked like they would be fantastic with soft thick sand.  Unfortunately, when we played they were wet and unplayable.  Faces are manageable but don't expect to hit in the bunker and roll out.

South Padre Island Golf Club also has some great stay and play packages - read our review about our Stay & Play at South Padre Island Golf Club to learn more. 

Bottom line - a fun and memorable track and a pretty good value.

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 6,931 73.5 129
Gold 6,420 70.6 128
Blue 6,291 69.3 125
White 5,542 66.6 120
Red 5,406 69.5 121

Course Information

Course Architect:
Chris Cole & Stephen Caplinger
Greens Type:
Champion Bermuda
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Beware of water on 8 holes and the 36 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
8.4 out of 10
Fun to Play:
Front Nine Rating:
Back Nine Rating:


Approximate Weekend
$32.00 to $55.00

Service is good, the pro shop has the basics, and the grill serves some pretty good food for breakfast and lunch.



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.