Howling Trails Golf Course - Holes 19 to 27 Review

Texas Outside Rating: 7.0

Golf - Public Course · 9 Holes · Par 36
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Howling Trails Golf Course - Holes 19 to 27 Review

Martin Valley Ranch 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.  This is the only nine that where a cart is required.

Martin Valley Ranch's holes 19 to 27 has mostly straightforward wide and flat fairways that lead to some very challenging greens to hit.  The greens are all raised, maybe 4 to 6 feet, making bump and runs hard and if you come in high, the ball is going to stop dead and may even roll backwards.  But once you're on the green they are relatively flat, easy to read, and one or two putts for us were common.  The greens were a tad bumpy but true and rolling at about an 8 to 8.5.  

This nine has a canal that crosses two holes and two lakes, but both were dry thanks to the drought!  A good thing for me - I was able to find my ball.  The fairways are lined with a scattering of small trees and lots of tall Palms - sure was glad that they were tall and skinny because they blocked several of my shots but easy to miss.   

Most of the fairways are straight and you can see the pin, but a couple like #26 and #27 are more like horseshoes and offer some good risk reward shots.  This nine at Martin Valley Ranch is the longest but we scored much better on this nine than we did on 1 through 9.  I think the flatter greens on this nine made the difference.  The scorecard shows playing 10 to 27 is the hardest 18.  

The fairways are all ample and you can bring out the big dog and let it rip.  If you really spray it, on most holes you'll end up on the other fairway and have a shot back toward or onto the green.  The rough is wide and rough thanks to the lack of rain - there are a lot of weeds and dirt hardpan - which means extra roll.  

The greens were still showing some weather damage around the fringe but were generally in pretty good condition.  The challenge is hitting them and the elevation makes that much tougher - thinking back on it, I should have clubbed up and gone for the middle to back side.  Once on, three putts were rare! 

There are no bunkers to contend with on this nine.   

Bottom line - for us this was our opportunity to relax and have an enjoyable and low scoring round - which we did!  

The slope and rating are based on playing holes 1 to 9 and 19 to 27. 

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Blue 3,459 71.4 112
White 3,201 68.2 108
Red 2,873 70.4 111

Course Information

Greens Type:
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Beware of water on 6 holes and the sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

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

Service is ok, the facilities are a little dated, the pro shop has the basics, and the range and putting green are adequate. The grill has reasonable prices for burgers, sandwiches, dogs, and more.



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.