Kissing Tree Golf Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 8.6

Golf - Semi Private Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
San Marcos
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Kissing Tree Golf Course Review

Review of Kissing Tree Golf Club in San Marcos, Texas

Kissing Tree Golf Club is one of the outstanding amenities at the upscale Kissing Tree 55+ active adult community in San Marcos.  Kissing Tree Golf Club opened in October 2018 and its the only semi-private course to be built in Texas since 2012.  Kissing Tree Golf Club is currently managed by one of the best in the industry, Troon Golf.

The course was designed by Nationally-recognized golf course architect and local Texan, Gary Stephenson with a goal of leveraging and preserving the natural landscape and incorporating the rolling hills, elevation changes, trees, and slope and contour into the fairways.  He did a superb job of achieving that goal and Kissing Tree Golf Club is now part of the Audubon International program which preserves and highlights the native Hill Country environment.

Some of what makes this a course worth playing include:

  • the course has 4 sets of tees and is short by today's standards, 4998 to 6572, which makes it suitable for all levels of play
  • the layout takes you on a scenic ride through some beautiful Hill Country scenery just outside of San Marcos
  • wide sweeping fairways, big greens, relatively few hazards, some short par 3s and a couple par 4s that are reachable from the tee box all contribute to creating an enjoyable round and an opportunity to post a low scoring round
  • elevated tee boxes provide several beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding country side, the University, and the city of San Maros 
  • new carts with soft leather comfortable seats plus  a good GPS and several choices for music (60's to the 90's, rock, country, and more)

Some of the holes that we really enjoyed included:

  • #5 is a 555-yard par 5 (#1 handicap) with an elevated tee box and a fantastic view plus a wide straight slightly downhill fairway that terminates at a bunker and then takes a sharp 90-degree turn right and across a rock-lined dry creek to a big raised green
  • #17 is a fun 505-yard par 5 with water from a pond on the right crossing the fairway at 185 yards out from the green and then a slight uphill shot to a green, three-quarters of which is surrounded by a multi-fingered bunker
  • #18 is one of those holes where you jump for joy because you drove the 214 to 287 yards needed to stuff it on the green - it's risky if you go for it thanks to a left and a right side bunker and a pond on both sides of the fairway

The fairways at Kissing Tree are wide and sweeping with a wide playable, but dense, first cut.  The natural terrain creates lots of uphill as well as downhill shots plus plenty of slope and contour.  The fairways were still maturing when we played and had some rough spots.  They were firm creating lots of extra roll that you need to manage.  Miss the fairway and you're in native brush or under the mesquite trees and most likely lost.  A handful of homes are on a couple of holes.  We saw lots more deer than homes!

The Kissing Tree Golf Club greens are also huge.  Most of the greens are slightly raised (but bump and runs still work well) and the greens have some mix of slope and contour, but nothing dramatic.  They ran true with subtle breaks and they were running around an 8+ or so when played.  Like the fairways, the greens are still maturing and recovering from a tough winter, but it won't be long before they could be some of the best putting surfaces around.

There aren't a lot of bunkers and we found them fairly easy to avoid.  They range in size from small to some huge nasty multi-fingered monsters that you need to avoid. The sand is perfect - soft, thick, and fluffy!

Bottom line - Kissing Tree Golf Club was not in the best condition ( but still very playable) thanks to a tough winter and because the greens and fairways were less than five months old and still maturing.  Troon Golf is a master of course maintenance and upkeep, so it won't be long before the conditions at Kissing Tree are superb.  Don't let the conditions stop you from playing this course - you'll love it because it's scenic, fun, reasonably priced, and affords an opportunity to turn in a great score.  The pictures we took don't do the course justice - the lighting was bad, the grass was dormant, and it was a little hazy.

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 6,572 71.8 131
Blue 5,537 66.6 119
White 4,998 68.6 117
Gold 6,083 69.3 126

Course Information

Course Architect:
Gary Stephenson
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
No - long distance between holes
Beware of water on 4 holes and the 23 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

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


Approximate Weekend
$60.00 to $75.00

Service is first class - friendly and outgoing. The practice facilities include a long and short game practice facility, putting greens, and an 18 hole putting course. The restaurant is under construction but a food truck is onsite and they serve a very good burger plus sandwiches and more. The pro shop had not yet been built when we played.



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.