AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.2

Golf - Resort Private Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
San Antonio
Website · Locate This Course
· Stay & Play
Date Last Played: August 25, 2010

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AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio Review

TPC San Antonio opened for play in 2010 and is home to two awesome courses - AT&T Oaks and AT&T Canyons.  Both courses are fantastic and each has it's own personality and unique characteristics.  The Canyons Course, designed by Pete Dye, is more player friendly and generous off the tee box and it includes several elevation changes, plenty of bunkers, challenging greens, scenic panoramic vistas, and native areas that are very penalizing. 

The Greg Norman designed AT&T Oaks Course is 6 to 10 strokes harder and 300 yards longer from the tips and it is characterized by very steep and deep penalizing bunkers, complex greens, and much narrower tree lined fairways. 

Both courses:

  • were elegantly carved out of tree covered and rocky San Antonio Hill Country terrain
  • were built with the environment in mind and included closed loop irrigation systems that recycle their own rain water
  • provide a memorable golf experience with plenty of hazards, risk reward opportunities, and tests for polished players
  • have sweeping vistas of the Hill Country or seclusion among thick tree lined fairways and exposed rock creating a priceless escape from reality
  • have plush rolling fairways and smallish greens that are well protected by deep devilish bunkers
  • will challenge your putting skills thanks to plenty of slope, undulation, and subtle breaks
  • are in a pristine natural hill country setting boarded by a nature preserve with no homes anywhere near the course
  • offer near perfect conditions, excellent facilities, and service that is unmatched.  

Sergio Garcia lent his unique perspective in assisting Greg Norman with the design of the Oaks Course which is tough and long (7435 yards and a slope of 148!) and fraught with hazards - narrow tree lined fairways, 12 foot deep bunkers guarding the greens, and globs of thick knee-high native grass just off the second cut of the fairway, dog legs, forced carries, and more. 

To play well here you need to stay on the practice range until you can hit 'um straight, then move to the bunkers and spend time trying to get the ball out, and finally practice reading the greens and putting.  Then head out for a fun, challenging, and very memorable round.  Don't bite off more than you can chew, in fact you'll enjoy the AT&T Oaks  Course more if you move up a set of tee boxes.  With a rating of 76.5 and slope of 148 from the tips, the AT&T Oaks  course may be the toughest course in Texas - but don't let that discourage you from playing this fantastic track.

The AT&T Oaks  course will throw a lot at you and there are a number of memorable and fun holes.  The first four are some of the toughest, for example:

  • #1 sets the stage and looks like a a pretty straight forward 454 yard par 4 with a wide landing zone off the tee box (don't miss the fairway) but the approach shot is a killer  - tight with a huge long deep bunker along the left side, another bunker in front of the green, and a very complex putting surface - par may be tough
  • #2 gets a big "Wow" on the approach to a shared L shaped green and 3 humongous bunkers
  • #3 is a beautiful 213 yard par 3 that is all carry over the water with no room in front, a steep collection area in back, and another of those huge deep bunkers on the right
  • #4 is a tight 481 yard dog right requiring both precision and power to a fairway with no room for error on the right and three large bunkers on the left side up to and around the green

And the route from #4 back to the club house has a number of memorable, very challenging, scenic, and fun holes, like:

  •  #11 which has a huge bunker splitting the fairway and forcing you to make a decision off the tee box for a shorter but tougher approach or a longer but safer shot to an oblong green with a bunker all along the right side
  • #16 is a beautiful 183 yard par 3 to a green complex protected by 4 challenging bunkers plus a large clam shell deep bunker in the middle of the green
  •  #18 which is a 581 par 5 with a "z" shaped fairway that is bisected by a creek that also protects the green - a very fun and scenic hole that gives you a couple risk reward opportunities and requires some skilled shot making to par  

When we played in September 2010, the fairways were in near perfect condition.  This is a course where you don't want to miss the fairway which can be a tad narrow in places - the first cut is a thick followed by the native areas with trees, cactus, tall thick native grass, and snakes!  Most of the fairways are fairly straight and flat (until you get to the greens) and you can usually see what you're up against.  To score well on the AT&T Oaks Course you need to carefully manage your club selection and shot making and do whatever it takes to stay in the fairway and away from the bunkers and native areas.  Listen closely to Greg Norman on the excellent GPS telling you how to play the hole. 

The greens are unbelievable - near perfect condition and ample size but they have lots of slope, undulation, spines, ridges, and contour to make putting very challenging.  When we played they were running a little fast at 10 to 10.5 and were very true, but difficult to read.  Since the greens are new and still maturing, they are hard and difficult to hold making bump and run a good approach strategy.  And the majority of the greens are very well guarded by huge, steep, and very deep bunkers.

The bunkers are strategically placed along the fairways and surrounding the greens.  Some are deep enough to swallow a VW bus and you'll find them challenging to get out of - both your ball as well as your body.  Most also have several fingers which can create very challenging lies.  The sand is soft and deep.  The bunkers are menacing but also help make the TPC AT&T Oaks  course aesthetically pleasing.   

This is a must play course, so add it to your bucket list.  You'll find it challenging but a blast to play and a course you'll remember for a long time and want to come back and play again. 

TPC San Antonio is a private resort, only accessible to Club Members and guests of the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa.  The JW Marriott is a first class resort - so save your money and book a room for a golf outing or fun vacation - read our review of the JW Marriott Stay & Play to learn more. 

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 7,435 76.5 148
Gold 7,034 74.7 145
Blue 6,624 72.7 142
White 6,242 71.1 138
Red 5,514 74.1 132

Course Information

Course Architect:
Greg Norman & Sergio Garcia
Greens Type:
Champion Bermuda
Greens Condition
9.0
Greens Difficulty
10.0
GPS:
Yes
Walkable:
Yes
Scorecard
Beware of water on 3 holes and the 59 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
9.2 out of 10
Beauty:
9.0
Difficulty:
9.5
Variety:
9.0
Fun to Play:
10.0
Value:
8.0
Condition:
9.5
Front Nine Rating:
9.2
Back Nine Rating:
9.5
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FEES & AMENITIES

Initiation Fees: $25,001 to $40,000
Monthly Dues: $201 to $400

Service is unequalled and whoever does the hiring is to be commended - everyone (from the starter to the cart girls) is friendly, helpful, funny, and out to make your round enjoyable. The facilities are first class including the pro shop, bar, grill, locker room, and practice areas. And the GPS is the best and most helpful that we have seen. Pace of play is excellent.

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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. 

 

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