Review of Horseshoe Bay's Ram Rock Golf Course - Horseshoe Bay
Ram Rock, a Robert Trent Jones designed course, is consistently rated as one of the best and most challenging courses in Texas. Texas Outside has it listed in the Top Resort Courses in Texas and Best Private Courses in Texas. Some of the other awards and accolades over the last few years include:
Ram Rock made our top course lists because it offers a little bit of everything that makes golf fun and challenging:
Ram Rock is a shot makers course and when you play it the first time, make sure you pick the right set of tee boxes - with a slope of 127 to 137, Ram Rock is demanding from all the tee boxes. But don't let that scare you away, even if you don't turn in a record score you're going to enjoy this scenic and unique course with excellent conditions.
In addition to Ram Rock, Horseshoe Bay is home to three other excellent courses - read our review of Apple Rock, Summit Rock, and Slick Rock Golf Course. The only downside is that all of the courses are private but available for play if you are a guest of the Horseshoe Bay Resort, which does have a very good Stay & Play package.
We have played Ram Rock several times since it opened in 1981 and each time we walk away after 18 and "Wow, what a great course." In 2018 Ram Rock underwent some significant renovations some of which included: redoing the greens from the ground including enlarging them which adds more possible pin locations and makes it a litter easier to hit them; reduced, reshaped, or repositioned the bunkers: added cart paths; and lots more. And in mid to late 2019 a new pro shop, magnificent club house, and pavilion will be completed.
The first hole on Ram Rock really gives you an idea of what you are in for - a dramatically elevated tee box with a magnificent view of the rolling hills dotted with some huge beautiful homes, two big bunkers in a fairly tight downhill dog leg left fairway, and an odd shaped green guarded by 3 bunkers - and this is one of the easier holes on the course (11th handicap)!
We loved the front nine, every hole on the front nine is excellent - fun, unique, and demanding with no two holes the same. Water, narrow tree-lined fairways, natural streams, ponds with water fountains, lots of ups and downs, challenging approach shots to small to medium well-guarded greens, rock gardens, steep and deep bunkers, granite outcroppings, dog legs, lots of trees and natural areas, blind shots, raised guarded greens, and an island green are just some of the unique features of this nine. The front nine will test your shot making, putting, club selection and course management skills. and patience. A couple examples of this include:
The back nine is great but pales in comparison to the front. This nine is your opportunity to score but you'll still need to manage lots of dog legs, challenging green complexes, blind shots, and rolling fairways. The fairways are wide, but if you tend to really spray the ball, you'll likely lose some golf balls to the trees, cactus, rocks, and native brush. On both nines, you need to keep an eye out for all the deer grazing and crossing the fairways. A couple of our favorite holes on this nine include:
The greens on Ram Rock are all shapes and sizes from small to about average and they are well protected with bunkers or other hazards that require precise approach shots. Most of the greens are raised which makes bump and runs difficult. Once you're on the green, they are typically in excellent condition, soft, smooth, and run true and fast - around a 10 to 11. You'll need to study them from all sides because they all have slope, undulation, tiers, and more - plus pin placement can be a killer.
The Ram Rock fairways are also in excellent condition and they range from tight to open with a rough that's wide and when we played in January the rough was thin and playable. Miss the rough and fairway and you're most likely lost in a natural area. Most of the fairways are contoured and rolling with a good mixture of uphill and downhill shots and left and right dog legs - uneven lies are common.
The Ram Rock bunkers also range in size from large to some real monsters that are steep and deep. Some of the lips are 3 to 5 inches but don't expect to roll in and out. The sand is soft and deep and a joy to play out of.
You should add Ram Rock to your bucket list. And make sure that after your round you have a drink at the pool bar and a dip in the refreshing pool with an excellent view, cool water, and a granite outcropping with a waterfall.
Initiation Fees: Under $10,000
Monthly Dues: $401 to $600
The service is first class, the temporary pro shop has the basics, and the pool which serves food and drinks is outstanding. The new facilities will be outstanding
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.