Traditions Club Review
Traditions Club at Texas A&M is a Jack Nicklaus and Jack Nicklaus II co-design which opened in Bryan, Texas and is home to the Aggie men’s and women’s golf team. Jack designed an 18 outstanding holes of golf in the center of 900 acres of some surprisingly beautiful terrain that makes playing the 7121 yard private course fun, scenic, and challenging. Jack Nicklaus sums it up well: “it’s an incredible piece of property with naturally rolling terrain, large native trees, and Turkey Creek.”
The natural terrain with several varieties of stately hardwoods creates plenty of challenges that you’ll need to manage during your round, some of which include: forced carries on 15 holes over ravines carved deep by the creek, wetlands and natural areas plus elevated tee shots, sloping fairways, downhill as well as uphill shots, and the meandering Turkey Creek crisscrossing several fairways.
On top of all that there are dog legs, blind shots, several risk reward opportunities, 68 strategically placed bunkers, and challenging green complexes – all of which may be why the course has a rating of 126 to 151 - making it one of the toughest courses from the tips in Texas. Traditions Club is a true test of your game from tee to green.
But don’t let all of that discourage you from doing whatever it takes to play this outstanding golf course. If you don’t know a member, you can become one if you want to play the course (rates are very reasonable for such a quality course and the resort style amenities) or you can sign up for one of their stay & play packages which gives you the right to play the course and enjoy all of the Club’s amenities – read our review of the Traditions Club Stay & Play to learn more.
Before you tee off at Traditions Club, make sure you spend some time at the range, putting green, and bunker area, pick the right set of tee boxes, study the yardage card carefully, and consider leaving the big dog in the bag. Or better yet play the practice 19th hole first which is somewhat representative of the course. You’re in for a scenic, fun, and demanding ride that puts a premium on accuracy over distance. During your round, you'll be tempted to try several risk reward opportunities that are very high risk and may cause your score to skyrocket! And whatever you don' be macho - move up a set of tee boxes for a more relaxing and enjoyable round.
The front nine is incredible and home to several “Wow” holes that are not only visually stunning but challenging from the tee box to the cup. Some of the “Wow” holes include:
The back nine is equally impressive and seemed to have much wider and more forgiving fairways but much tougher greens with severe slope, plenty of undulation, plus tiers and ridges and severe slope back to the fairway. Some will say that this nine is tougher - we though it was a little easier than the front. A couple of our favorites on this nine included:
The fairway’s at Traditions Club at Texas A&M vary from tight and narrow to ample and forgiving where you can pull out the big dog and let it rip. All of the fairways are tree lined and the front nine has some beautiful huge homes watching you play but they shouldn't come into play. When we played in October, despite the harsh Texas weather, the fairways were in very good condition – lush, plush, and a real pleasure to hit from.
If you miss the fairway, the rough is thick and dense and tends to hold the ball up, making for a relatively easy recovery shot. If you really spray the ball, you’re wet, deep in the trees, or lost in a deep ravine, native area, or wetland. The entire course is very well maintained and manicured.
Traditions Club’s greens were also near perfect and they were soft, smooth, and ran at a good speed of around a 11. Most are raised with a steep front making a bump and run tough and all are well guarded with plenty of bunkers, trees, creeks, grass swales, and natural areas. They vary in shape and size ranging from a postage stamp to one green that could have it's own zip code. Practice putting before you head out – the greens are challenging with some severe slope, multiple tiers, and spines and very subtle breaks. Pin placement can make two and three putts common.
The white sand bunkers are fantastic - but some are steep and deep and they are all shapes and sizes from pot to some huge monsters. The sand is soft and fluffy and thick. At times I thought I was on the sandy beaches of Destin, Florida – maybe that was one of the reasons I spent so much time in the bunkers; the only thing missing was a Pina Coloda and an umbrella! The bunker faces vary from a foot or so to some very steep and deep monsters where if you’re up against the lip, you’re in for a sand storm. After practicing your putting, go practice your sand shots. I’m still removing sand from my shoes, pockets, hair, and several orifices.
Traditions Club is stunning and the facilities and stay & play lodging are equally impressive. The stay & play package is an excellent way to experience this outstanding course and all of its amenities.
Initiation Fees: Under $10,000
Monthly Dues: $201 to $400
The club house is first class with a good restaurant, bar, wine cellar, meeting rooms, great patio, well stocked pro shop, and fantastic men’s and women’s locker rooms with a bar, game room, showers, lockers, and a well equipped fitness center. Even the carts are special - new, aluminum wheels, and maroon with a leather steering wheel and soft leather seats plus a ball and club washer! There is also a very complete Golf Academy for everything from club fitting to swing analysis. Service is excellent and all of the members we encountered were very friendly - which is not typical of most exclusive private clubs.
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.