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Horseshoe Bay -- Apple Rock Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.0

Golf - Resort Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Horseshoe Bay
Website · Locate This Course
· Stay & Play
Date Last Played: May 04, 2015

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Horseshoe Bay -- Apple Rock Course Review

Review and Rating of Horseshoe Bay Resort's Apple Rock Golf Course

Horseshoe Bay Resort is home to three of Texas' top rated courses - Ram Rock, Apple Rock, and Slick Rock. In fact, the courses have all been featured in the "50 Best Courses in Texas" list in the Dallas Morning News every year since the origin of the annual ranking in 1989.

Apple Rock was designed by Robert Trent Jones and opened in 1986.  Of the three Horseshoe Bay Resort Golf Courses Apple Rock is clearly the most scenic (stunning views of Lake LBJ) of the three courses (in, fact it may be the most scenic course in Texas) and it's the second hardest.  When completed it received distinction as "Best New Resort Course" by Golf Digest.

Apple Rock Golf Course leverages the rocky and rolling Hill Country terrain and offers lots of variety, some unique challenges, and a very enjoyable round of golf.  The front nine has lots of ups and downs, sloping fairways, some huge beautiful homes, uniquely shaped greens that are a tad small, ample fairways, and some great holes.  The back seems a little more open and forgiving, somewhat more traditional with bigger bunkers and greens, and some beautiful holes.  The first three holes on the back nine are some of the most scenic in Texas and make the course well worth the price.

Apple Rock is not that tight but a number of holes demand some forethought and good club selection or you're in some trouble. Some of the holes that we really liked included:

  • #1 was our first "Wow" - a 431 par 4 with an elevated tee box, a huge downhill shot down a fairway with 2 nasty large bunkers on the right side, and a shot to an uphill smallish light bulb shaped green set off to the right with a big bunker and water on the front left and 2 bunkers on the right side
  • #8 is a beautiful 187 yard par 3 which is all carry over a small lake with a fountain to a raised green with 2 huge bunkers on the left
  • #10 is the second "Wow" - clearly one of the most scenic views of any golf course from high atop a hill - a view of Lake LBJ and the country side for miles and miles - plus it's a very fun hole with lots of ups and downs
  • #12 is another beautiful 179 yard par 3 with swaying palm trees and it's all carry over Lake LBJ to a sloping green with a bunker in the front

When we played Apple Rock in 2015 the greens were in very good shape, ran true and at a good speed (around a 9 or so), and held the ball well.  They are a variety of odd shapes, on the smaller side of average, and have a good sized puttable fringe.  The greens have plenty of slope, some of which can be a little difficult to read.

The fairways at Apple Rock were also in very good condition.  Most of the fairways have some slope that can cause you trouble if you don't play it right.  The fairways are firm giving you lots of extra roll that you also need to manage plus huge elevation changes can require you to club up or down. 

The bunkers range from small to some huge monsters.  Most of the faces are manageable and not real steep.  The sand was thin, gritty, and very firm - not a lot of fun to hit out of!  I was told they are going to start replacing the bunker sand in the near future.

Apple Rock is a resort course and as such you need to stay at Horseshoe Bay Resort to play the course - the good news is that they have a very attractive Stay & Play package with unlimited golf! See our Stay & Play Page to learn more. This is one of the courses that you need to add to your "must play" list.

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Gold 6,999 75.4 136
Blue 6,536 72.8 131
White 6,038 70.7 126
Red 5,536 73.6 128

Course Information

Course Architect:
Robert Trent Jones
Greens Type:
Tif - Eagle
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Beware of water on 6 holes and the 56 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

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


Approximate Weekend
$75.00 to $150.00

Service is very good and attentive, the club house and pro shop are good, and the food is very good by the pool but a little pricy.



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.