Howling Trails Golf Course opened in 1984 and is home to three nine hole courses, appropriately named 1 to 9,10 to 18, and 19 to 27. Common to all of the nines are reasonable rates, traditional and straightforward layouts, fair conditions, bermuda greens, and fairways lined by Live Oak, Mesquite and Palm trees.
We played in January 2012 and the conditions were fair at best but the course, like most other courses in Texas had suffered through a harsh winter, severe drought, and record heat. As such the fairways were a tad dry (good for a lot of extra roll), the roughs were pretty rough with a lot of dirt hardpan (again good for a lot of extra roll), a couple of the lakes were dry, and the greens still had some damage. Regardless, the conditions are still good enough to have a fun and enjoyable round.
Like the other two nines at Martin Valley Ranch Golf Course, holes 1 to 9 are very straight forward and traditional with flat fairways where in most cases you can see the pin and what you're up against. Some of what you'll need to manage on this nine includes: four dog legs, a couple of which take a 90 degree turn and require precise drives to make the turn; water on four holes; a couple tight fairways; trees lining the fairways; one small pot bunker (the score card shows 8 bunkers but we didn't notice them); and sloping greens. Some of the holes are side by side, which means if you really spray it you'll be in the wrong fairway but have an opportunity to recover if you can carry the trees or palms.
This nine is the shortest (2568, 2880, and 3311 yards) of the three nines and you've got a good shot at a birdie or par if you can hit and hold the greens. The greens are slightly raised, a tad small, and most have some severe slope which will carry you off the green.
There are a couple memorable holes like:
The fairways are fairly straight and very flat and dry. Most are ample off of the tee box and all the way to the green, but if you spray it you're on dirt hardpan or in a parallel fairway. Some of the holes play close to the freeway and the noise can be distracting, particularly when an 18 wheeler toots his horn in the middle of your backswing.
The greens are cookie cutter ovals of about average to small in size. Most are raised a foot or two and a short hit will most likely stop instead of rolling on the green. The greens on this nine at Martin Valley Ranch Golf Course were much tougher than the greens on 19 to 27 - lots of slope and in some cases very severe. Two and three putts were common for us.
The one bunker we saw was a very small pot bunker with very good soft sand.
Bottom line - a layout that affords an opportunity to have an enjoyable and low scoring round at a very reasonable rate.
Rating and slope is based on playing holes 1-9.
Rates: $21.00 to $33.00
Service is friendly, the facilities are dated, the pro shop has the basics, and the range and putting green are adequate. The grill serves the basics - burgers, dogs, sandwiches.
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.