Review of Tierra Santa Golf Club
Rated by Golf Digest as a 4 Star "Place to Play" in 2008, Tierra Santa Golf Club is clearly one of the best golf courses in the Rio Grande Valley. Tierra Santa Golf Course is semi private and was designed by Jeff Brauer with help from Steve Elkington and opened for play in 1997. This is a links style course that is typified by a fun and interesting layout, open and forgiving fairways, huge greens, and pretty good conditions.
With four tee boxes and yardages from 7139 to 5283 you should be able to find a range that fits your style of play – don’t be too macho and bite off more than you can chew. Check with the wind God also, prevailing winds can play havoc with your score. With a rating of 73.6 and slope of 124, Tierra Santa Golf Course is no walk in the park. You’ll encounter a little bit of everything from forced carries, to elevated and challenging green complexes, water coming into play on several holes and sometimes twice on the same hole, and plenty of traps, tall mounds, swales, and some deep grass bunkers. Brauer must have moved many millions of cubic feet of dirt and sand to create the contoured fairways and all the dramatic mounding out of some flat ranch land. We really enjoyed playing Tierra Santa.
The front nine meanders through the Tierra Santa planned residential development community and some beautiful huge homes of many different architectural styles line some of the fairways. This nine seemed to be a little more fun, more demanding, and the more interesting of the two nines. The fairways and roughs also seemed more lush and plush and in a little bit better condition than the back nine. There are also a couple of very fun, challenging, and memorable holes like #3 (a short 384 yard par 4 that demands accuracy all the way to the cup thanks to having to carry a lake off the tee box to a landing zone with water and bunkers followed by a somewhat tough approach) and #7 which is a 547 yard dog leg right with water on the left side of the tee and fairway and again on the right side from 150 yards out and all the way to and around the right side of an uphill green.
The back nine of Tierra Sanat gives you a great opportunity to have an excellent round – it is more open with generous and much straighter fairways, large playable roughs, huge greens, and more straightforward holes with no homes in sight. But again, don’t be lulled to sleep or the traps, swales, grass bunkers, howling winds, and mounds will bite you. It may have been just me, but I was putting great on the front and had several 3 putts on the back - not sure if that was just me or the greens, but beware! The back nine also has some fun holes like #14 (a long 610 yard par 4 that dog legs right around a pond and gives you a great risk reward shot on the second shot for an opportunity at a birdie) and 18 is a fantastic and scenic finishing hole with a challenging approach shot.
The fairways are generous and the rough is wide, a tad thick, but playable – it’s hard to lose a ball out of bounds or in someone’s back yard. The Tierra Santa front nine fairways have a lot of contour and gentle roll and plenty of tall mounds, large bunkers, and swales. You can expect a few uneven lies. The front nine fairways were in fantastic condition - outside of several very wet and soggy areas thanks to rain or over-watering, not sure which, but it got muddy and would stop your ball cold! The fairways on the front were lush, plush, and soft which did tend to limit the roll but were a joy to hit shorter shots from. The back nine fairways were dryer, flatter, and much firmer and the mounding didn’t seem as dramatic.
The Champion Bermuda greens were in near perfect condition and the best we played in the Rio Grande Valley. The greens were huge with slope and undulation plus a few had multiple tiers and several were elevated or slightly uphill. As challenging as the greens may sound, we found them very true, easy to read, smooth as silk, and a good speed of around 9. And as big as the greens are at Tierra Santa Golf Club, they are easy to hit and hold very well. Don’t miss, all of the greens are guarded by huge mounds, equally large bunkers, swales, and grass bunkers!
During late 2012 and 2013, all of the bunkers were being redone with heavier PGA approved sand and sodded lips. When we played 45 of the 65 had been redone and were filled with good sand. The bunkers range in size and most are steep faced and a lttle deep.
Tierra Santa Golf Club is a fantastic layout, with great conditions, and a blast to play. Plus it is an outstanding value. A must play if you’re within a hundred miles!
Rates: $27.00 to $49.00
Service is good, the pro shop has all the basics, the range is adequate, and the grill has a wide variety of very tasty food.
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.