White Bluff Resort - Old Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.0

Golf - Resort Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Whitney
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White Bluff Resort - Old Course Review

Review of White Bluff Resort's Old Golf Course in Whitney, TX

White Bluff Resort is one of our favorite Texas resorts because it's on beautiful Lake Whitney, has a variety of accommodations, excellent resort amenities, and two very good golf courses - the Old Course and the New Course.  In October of 2018, the White Bluff Resort Property Owners Association (POA) took over ownership of the Resort and the majority of the Resort amenities, including both of the golf courses which were in pretty rough condition when the POA took ownership.  They immediately closed the courses and spent a significant amount of money on redoing the greens and bunkers, renovating the pro shop and golf stay and play accommodations, and on improving the conditions and playability of the course.  In addition, they hired Arcis Golf, one of the premier golf management companies in the US, to manage the day to day operation and maintenance of the courses.

The New Course officially opened in August 2019 and Old Course opened for play in October 2019. We have played both courses a couple of times prior to the POA taking over and the POA improvements and course conditions were impressive when we played in August, 2020.  The members that we talked to were also very pleased with the new ownership and with everything that the POA had accomplished.

Both of the White Bluff courses were designed by Bruce Lietzke and each course has its own unique personality and characteristics.  For example,

  • the Old Course has more scenic vistas, a traditional front nine, an outstanding back nine, several elevation changes, and a back nine that is regarded as the hardest of the nines at White Bluff 
  • the New Course is more traditional and is regarded as the harder of the two courses thanks to water on 16 holes, some tight approaches, and an extra 200 yards - read our review of White Bluff Resort's New Course

Both courses are demanding but fair and common to each course are excellent conditions, some very fun and memorable holes, and good service.  Both courses have a 4-star rating from Golf Digest and are consistently rated as some of the best resort courses in Texas by several sources - they made Texas Outside's List of the Best Texas Resort Courses.

The Old Course opened in 1992 and the front nine is pretty open and straight forward - it's your warm-up nine for the back and your opportunity to score well.   In most cases, you can see the pin and what you're up against, so bring out the big dog and let-er-rip but don't miss or you'll be under the trees in the rough or in a back yard or dense brush.  By no means is this nine a walk in the park or boring - you'll need to manage bunkers, water, rolling fairways, doglegs, blind shots, and several uphill as well as downhill shots. 

Our favorite holes on the front nine include:

  • #5 is a fun 433-yard par 4 with a sharp dog-leg right (an excellent risk-reward shot if you think you can carry the trees) and a slight uphill shot to a green with a left bunker plus a tier and slope from back to front
  • #8 is great 400-yard par 4 with an uphill dogleg left shot from an elevated tee box followed by a downhill shot to a raised heavily contoured green with a bunker waiting for a shot short of the green

White Bluff's Old Course back nine is fantastic and it will throw a little bit of everything at you - which makes for a fun and challenging round.  It's at least 3 strokes harder than the front.  You'll encounter elevated tee boxes and greens, rolling fairways that range from wide-open let 'er rip to fairly tight, creeks and ponds on 6 of nine holes, some huge strategically placed bunkers, forced carries, a couple of risk-reward opportunities, and a gallery of roaming deer who watch your swing carefully but never critique it or giggle when you dribble the ball just past them.   A couple of our favorite holes on this nine include:

  • #12 a 389-yard par 4 (#5 handicap) and a good example of the what to expect on the back nine because it has some of everything that makes this nine fantastic - an elevated tee box, an intimidating carry over water off the tee with a tee shot that needs to land between two big fairway bunkers that pinch the landing zone, a one to two club uphill shot to a well guarded and big odd-shaped green with both slope and a ridge plus a stunning view of Lake Whitney - wow, what a fun hole!
  • #13 is a challenging 158 par 3 with a forced carry over a deep ravine to a slightly elevated green with 3 bunkers and no room for error - unless you are deadly accurate, bring out an old ball
  • #14 is a fun uphill tee shot and then a sharp dog left and over a creek in front of a downhill oblong sloping 3 tier green with 3 large bunkers

All of the Old Course greens have new TIF-Eagle grass and they were in near perfect condition when we played in August.  They were a little bumpy, only because they had been punched the week before.  They ran true and at a very good speed of around 10. 5 and they held the ball fairly well.  Some are raised and all are huge!  Some of the breaks can be very subtle and surprising. 

The fairways on the Old Course were in very good condition but dry and firm thanks to several days of 100-degree heat.  All of the fairways were lined with trees and a few have a scattering of nice homes.  The fairways range from wide open to tight and contoured.  The rough was in great condition and very playable - but miss it and you're under the trees, lost in some dense brush, or in a backyard.  The fairways are flat to gently rolling on the front and have much more contour and some dramatic elevation changes on the back. 

The Old Course is peaceful and quiet with nothing to distract you - no freeway noise, kids crying, dogs barking, or jets flying overhead - except for plenty of deer grazing, crossing the fairway, or carefully watching your swing.

The bunkers are very well maintained and average to large in size.  The sand is soft and thick and the lips are manageable.

Bottom line - an outstanding 18 and a fantastic back nine that we can't wait to play again.

The pace of play on the weekends is very good because most of the members play in the morning during the week and White Bluff Resort is still a well-kept secret.  White Bluff also has an outstanding Stay & Play package - read our White Bluff Stay & Play review to learn more about our stay and play at White Bluff. 

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 6,866 74.6 138
Blue 5,921 70.2 127
White 5,484 67.6 120
Gold 6,414 72.3 123
Red 5,165 66.6 116

Course Information

Course Architect:
Bruce Lietzke
Greens Type:
Tif Eagle
Greens Condition
9.4
Greens Difficulty
8.8
Fairway Condition
9.0
Bunker Condition
10.0
GPS:
No
Walkable:
Back is hilly
Beware of water on 9 holes and the 43 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
9.0 out of 10
Beauty:
8.9
Difficulty:
9.1
Variety:
8.7
Fun to Play:
9.2
Value:
8.7
Condition:
9.2
Front Nine Rating:
8.8
Back Nine Rating:
9.3
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FEES & AMENITIES

Approximate Weekend
Rates:
$35.00 to $55.00

Service is very good and friendly, the pro shop has the basics, and the practice facilities are adequate. The pace of play is normally excellent. Due to COVID-19 the grill won't open until the spring of 2020.

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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. 

 

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