Review of Palmilla Beach Golf Club in Port Aransas
Port Aransas is well known for it's fishing, birding, excellent restaurants, and fun nightlife and now you can add golf to that list because in September 2008 a signature Arnold Palmer designed course opened for play. Formally known as Newport Dunes, the course has changed hands a couple of times and in March 2013 new owners took over, brought in one of the best golf course management companies (Troon Golf), and made several changes and improvements some of which included:
Palmilla Beach Golf Club is a lush green oasis which has been carved out of and sculptured into the sand dunes along the Gulf of Mexico just south of Port Aransas. It is the only ocean side golf course in Texas and on a couple holes you have a great view of the Gulf of Mexico. Palmilla Beach Golf Club is also the first Arnold Palmer ocean side design in North America and Arnold states: "Being here and seeing this course has aroused some enthusiasm in me I hadn't felt for a while. I can't tell you that I've enjoyed playing any golf course any more than I did Palmilla Beach Golf Club. This is a fantastic setting." And it is an outstanding layout and clearly one of the best link style courses in Texas and well deserving of the accolades it has received over the last few years, some of which include:
The fairways traverse over, up and down, and through the windswept dunes and past coastal native floras, rare and endangered seaside plants, and the rich greens of seashore grass. The course is visually stunning and commands quite a few "Wows."
Palmilla Beach Golf Club is similar to some coastal links courses in Scotland with native brush, wind swept dunes, open fairways, sea breezes, and several stacked wall bunkers. Controlling ball trajectory and keeping it in the fairway, good course management, accuracy rather than distance, and adjusting to conditions (particularly the wind) are the keys to scoring well.
The first three holes play across the road and provide some views of the bay. The back has some very scenic holes offering excellent views of the Gulf of Mexico. The entire 18 is visually stunning and the contrast of the dark lush green fairways against the sand dunes and native flora is dramatic.
With 5 sets of tee boxes and yardages ranging from 4680 to 6821, Palmilla Beach is not that long but it offers a variety of challenges like very deep steep walled bunkers, forced carries, dog legs, water hazards, rolling contoured fairways, Gulf breezes, and plenty of natural grass areas that will devour your ball and ruin your score. And it's home to some really fun holes - a few of our favorites include:
Millions of tons of sand and dirt must have been moved to create all the fairway mounding, slopes, and ridges as well as the tall berms lining the fairway. Miss the fairway, most of which are ample and forgiving, and your ball is lost. When we last played in 2014 the fairways, which were in near perfect condition when we played in the past, were suffering from some insect and weather damage, but still very playable.
The greens at Palmilla Beach Golf Course were in excellent condition - the were running around a 9, ran true, and held the ball well. Most of the greens are raised, guarded by some nasty deep bunkers, and all had some slope, contour, or tiers. Pin placement can add a few strokes. In many cases, tall burms or mounds provide a nice backstop for the green - hit into them and the ball might roll back onto the green. But if you hit on the side of the green, the slope will most likely take you back down the fringe and into the fairway.
The sand in the bunkers at Palmilla Beach Golf Club is soft and thick, but you've got a major problem if you end up against their very steep faces or in the thick deep rough surrounding the bunkers.
Port Aransas is one of our favorite Texas cities and Palmilla Beach Golf Club is another good reason to visit Port A. When the condos and casitas are finishing in early 2015, some of them will be available for a stay and play package.
Rates: $59.00 to $89.00
Service is fantastic. The Pro Shop has a good selection of all the basics. The Grill and Bar are great with a variety of food options. The Black Marlin has a downstairs area as well as an elevated bar and seating with excellent views from the third story. The practice area is six acres and includes 30 grass hitting areas and the distances are measured each day to allow you to hone in on the yardage.
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.