Review of San Saba River Golf Club
San Saba River Golf Course is very close to being one of those hidden gems that you love to discover as you travel through Texas. Owned and operated by the City of San Saba, the course could be classified as a true country golf course with reasonable rates, pretty good conditions, a fair layout, country friendly service, peace and quiet (except for the birds, owls, squirrels, and an occasional moo from some grazing cattle), a good pace of play, and no tee time reservations needed. Maybe those are some of the reasons that San Saba River Golf Course has been rated 3.5 stars by Golf Digest and voted as "one of the best places to play..." for six years in a row.
San Saba River Golf Course plays through a forest of 2600 stately pecan trees, which make most of the fairways fairly tight requiring precision off the tee box as well as accuracy on the approach shots. There are also a few ponds to contend with but no bunkers. All of which means that if you pick the right set of tee boxes, hit it fairly straight (or have a good "under the tree" recovery shot), and you can putt, you'll have a fun and well scoring round. I couldn't do any of that and I still enjoyed the round!
San Saba River Golf Course opened in 1972 as a nine hole course - the original nine is now the back nine. The front nine opened for play in 1986 and it is fairly traditional and straightforward. In most cases from the tee box you can see the flag and what you're up against - which is lots of trees. The good news is that there are no out of bounds and the trees aren't so thick and dense that you'll lose your ball or not be able to chip back to the fairway. In some cases, you may land in the other fairway and have a pretty good shot at par. The front has a couple fun holes like: #3 which is a 396 yard dogleg left par 4 that requires a precise drive to carry a pond but you need a precise landing to not overshoot the fairway and to give you a shot at the green which is most likely blocked by a couple trees; and #5 gives you a forced carry from a peninsula tee box to a narrow fairway.
We really liked the back nine and found it to be more challenging and much more interesting. On this nine you'll find some very tight landing zones off the tee box, some forced carries, challenging approach shots, doglegs to manage, and lots of trees to contend with. And #18 will make you want to come back and play San Saba River Golf Course again - what a fun and challenging finishing hole.
When we played in May the conditions were pretty good but not great. The fairways are flat and in ok condition and the first cut was very playable. Under the trees was a mixture of grass and dirt.
The greens were in very good condition except for a couple that were trying to recover from some damaged spots. Most of the greens are small and slightly elevated which puts a premium on your approach shots. They are relatively flat with some minor breaks that are easy to read. The San Saba greens ran true and were a little slow (7 or 8) when we played. There are no bunkers but where some of the bunkers were are now grass bunkers or a little thicker rough that you need to avoid.
Bottom line - a good value and a fun track where you can have a relaxing and peaceful round of golf in the country. The course is next door to the San Saba River RV Park which is a cozy small full hookup RV park and a great place to camp and enjoy a round of golf.
Rates: $20.00 to $35.00
Service is country friendly but no beverage cart service is available. The facilities are a little dated, the pro shop has limited supplies (balls, gloves, caps, and some clothing) and they have accounts with all major OEM's and can order any club that anyone wants. Snacks, munchies, drinks, and some sandwiches (possibly the best ever Chicken Salad Sandwich) are available. There is a small driving range and putting green.
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.