Vaquero Golf Course
Sometimes you just get lucky. Everybody knows that I like to play at some of the worst places in Texas and most people would consider that to be a complete waste of time. My philosophy is you can’t play them all if you don’t play them all. A place to swing the club is sacred to me no matter how lousy or crummy the course or facilities may seem. This time was the complete opposite of that viewpoint and I got to play on a course that has given me bragging rights on those name droppers whose courses are always better than mine. So here is to you golfers that always think you have a better place to play than me. I got to play Vaquero golf course in Westlake, Texas.
Vaquero is a rich man’s course no doubt. Membership is $175,000 and monthly dues are $1281 a month. Home lots go for $1,000,000 and up and most of the houses on the course are $4,000,000 to $10,000,000 in my estimate and that might be on the low side. Dropping some names of some celebs who live in Vaquero would include: the Jonas Brothers - we were told when the house was first built that teenage girls were climbing the fence to get in; Vernon Wells of the Los Angeles Angels and Sean Payton coach of the New Orleans Saints - he and Vernon each have houses there and they only live there part time; Hank Haney and his new bride; and several golfers have housing at Vaquero including KJ Choi and Todd Hamilton just to name a couple and Justin Leonard is a former resident. I was told that there is also a lot of house swapping.
Our foursome of Damon Boniface, Jay Beatty, Mike Perryman and myself left Waco at 7am and headed north toward Fort Worth. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before but there is always a mandatory stop at West for breakfast kolaches. I was in the back seat with Mike whom I had just met and it turned out he is a lot like me. We got along well and he had just as many stories as I did, so we were entertaining each other the whole trip, which meant Damon and Jay, did not have to put up with me. We arrived at the entrance gate at 9:30 AM and gave them our names and the guards ushered us onto the property and gave directions to the clubhouse. We arrived at the clubhouse and attendants took our clubs to our carts and a valet took our vehicle to the parking lot. We were directed to the locker room where our personalized lockers were waiting next to the regular members. Damon went looking for names and found several famous ones. I went into the pro shop and they had the temperature turned down very low so they could use the fireplace. We then headed to the driving range and found out that a 10 AM tee time means nothing; it is just your suggested time. The driving range had bent grass greens and Pro V1 balls. Wow, I have never stuck balls on a driving range like that before.
We started our round playing with our staff member Jeff, a 20 year old kid with a slight build that could crush the ball. He left me in his wake all day. He tried to show us where to and not to hit the ball. At Vaquero a caddie is required and our caddie’s name was Doug. He had a range finder and gave all of us accurate readings and he had an uncanny ability to find wayward balls in the deep stuff. He also acted as our guide and pointed out who lived where. He definitely earned his tip.
The fairways at Vaquero were better than a lot of the greens I have been on and the primary cut of rough was better than most fairways. The bad news was the Coastal Bermuda which was about two foot tall and it was almost impossible to hit out of The day started out warm but it quickly turned hot, then very hot. Luckily they have a convenience stop every four holes and we loaded up with water every time. We stopped between holes nine and ten where they had a chef cooking sliders, sausage and various other goodies. I had a couple of sliders and lemonade and we stayed in the shade for about twenty five minutes. Hank Haney drove by in his golf cart and waved so I waved back - he must have recognized me! ha ha!
We rode over to number ten tee and I proceeded to pull it into the deep stuff. From this point forward the caddie kept finding my ball and I kept trying to hack it out. I had played well on the front nine but I did not play well for the next six holes. I blamed my lack of focus on the excessive heat but that did not dampen my spirit and I was still having fun. Richie Hare the head pro came out to check on us. He was very cordial and I got him to sign my Texas Golf Bible. I complimented him on his staff and how nice I thought the course was. We finished up and I did manage to break 90, even with all my hacks, and Damon played as well as I have seen him play with an 83. We were given mango towels on 18 and that helped and we then headed for the locker room. We were able to take a nice cool shower and I think that might have helped to cool us off more than anything else, especially since we had been out in 105 degree heat. I dropped by Richie Hare’s office and thanked him and we headed for home.
If you are wondering how someone like me was able to pull off a coo as big as this one it goes something like this. I played in the 16th Annual Fighting Baylor Bear Classic with my good friend Terry Hancock who was a Baylor lineman back in the 80s. They had a silent auction and I bid on a round for four at Vaquero and won. I knew I had pulled off a good deal, but I didn’t realize until after we had played how good it really was. My playing partners told me I had “done real good” picking this one out and they might even let me pick another one. Sometimes you just get lucky! My 640th course played in Texas sure was one to remember.
The Restless Golfer: Tank