Review of The Campus Course at Texas A & M
The Campus Course at Texas A&M was designed by Ralph Plummer and first opened for play in 1951 was renovated by well-known architect Jeff Blume (a 1989 Aggie) in 2013. This multi-million dollar renovation included significant changes to the course layout and design, a driving range and short game practice area, and a new club house and tournament pavilion that will be added in the near future.
Jeff must have moved a lot of dirt to give the fairways plenty of contour, raise the greens, and dig and then fill over 150 bunkers with soft white sand. Jeff made the course both challenging but playable for all levels of players – from the tips it’s 7008 yards with a slope and rating of 73.8 and 130 but there are 5 other tee boxes with yardages of 4968 to 6503 yards. You need to play strategically, not take too many risks, avoid water on 14 holes, and deploy your best sand game because there are 153 bunkers you’ll need to stay out of.
The fairways are wide and forgiving off the tee box but if you spray it or over hit the ball, you’re likely wet or sandy. There are also 9 dog legs that you need to position your shot for. But what makes the Campus Course challenging are the approach shots to the greens – all of the greens are well guarded with one to five bunkers and most of the greens are raised which means bump and runs won’t work and if you don’t hold the green you’ve got a tough chip back up to the green, a sand shot, or you’re wet.
But don’t let all of that scare you away from playing the Campus Course at A&M – the course is fair and a lot of fun to play. The front nine seems a little easier, has 7 less bunkers, and offers a good chance to score well. The back nine is more interesting, a little harder, and has some excellent risk reward opportunities. Part of what we think makes playing the Campus Course interesting is that Jeff designed several holes with risk reward opportunities – allowing you to risk shortening the hole or taking a safer but longer approach to the green.
Some of the holes we really liked include:
When we played in October 2014 the fairways were near perfect. All but a couple of the fairways are wide and forgiving off the tee but they are littered with bunkers of all shapes and sizes - and in a couple cases you'll find bunkers in the middle of the fairway. The first cut of the rough was wide and playable and with grass that held the ball up. Miss that and you've got trouble with thicker rough or water. A lot of the fairways are side by side but wide enough that it's hard to hit into the other fairway. The perimeter holes (2, 3, 4, 7, 12, and 18) play along the road with traffic noise, but you need to really spray it to hit a car!
The Campus Course greens were also in near perfect condition and the greens are what make this course tough. They are raised, well guarded, and somewhat fast at around 10. You can't bump and run and if you can't hold the green you've got a tough shot back or out of the sand. The are soft and run true and have some minor slope and contour which means very subtle breaks that can surprise you.
The bunkers are everywhere but the good news is that the sand is soft and fluffy and in most cases the lips are manageable. The Campus Course bunkers range from small somewhat deep and steep to long skinny multi-fingered monsters. A lot of the greens have bunkers hidden off the back side - a surprise if you don't hold the green.
Bottom line - an interesting layout that's fair but with demanding greens and lots of bunkers. A must play if you're in the area.
Rates: $49.00 to $69.00
The pro shop is pretty well stocked with a lot of maroon A&M gear! The grill has burgers, sandwiches, and more. The practice facilities are very 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.