Blaketree National Golf Course Stay & Play
If you're looking for a fun golf adventure, then you need to pack up the clubs and some friends and head toHalfway between Dobbin and Magnolia (where is that you ask - it's about 20 minutes west of Lake Conroe and about 30 minutes north of Houston and in some beautiful heavily treed rolling terrain) is a fantastic golf course with one of the most affordable and best stay and play offerings in Texas. We included Blaketree as a part of a golfing road trip we took in May 2009 and only wish that we had scheduled more time so we could play the course twice. Blaketree is located in some beautiful countryside not that far from Lake Conroe. Once we passed Dobbin and made the right turn into Blaketree, we kept asking ourselves "who in the world would build a golf course in what appears to be the middle of nowhere." Shortly after we arrived, we got the answer. After returning from Augusta National, billionaire and avid golfer Thomas Blake started building what he hoped would be a Texas Augusta National. So in 1985, he hired Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore to route the course, but a few months later the project was shelved as the oil economy bottomed out. Similar starts and stops occurred until the course was completed in 2000. Unfortunately, Thomas died before he was able to play all 18 holes of his creation. Not only did he build an outstanding course that took advantage of the beautiful and heavily treed rolling terrain, but he built a club house as well as a home for his personal and close friends use. If fact, it's rumored that George Bush Sr, other well known Texans, golf professionals, and a lot movie celebrities stayed in his home and played his course.
After Mr Blake passed away the course reverted to his trust fund management team. Have you ever heard of a trust being excited about owning and managing a golf course? Well as you might expect, over the next few years the course was severely neglected. Luckily, in 2007, JP Partners purchased Blaketree and since then they have been making significant improvements and they are committed to a continued investment to make Blaketree what it has the potential to become - one of the best courses in Texas.
Bill Burford, the Director of Instruction, told us that when JP Partners took over the majority of the greens were dirt and sand, the fairways were brown and overgrown with weeds and brush, and the gophers, moles, fire ants, deer, wild hogs, and other wild critters plus a few duffers had taken over and done significant damage to the entire course - divots look good compared to what these varmits did to the fairways and greens. The bushes and junipers had taken over the Blake's house and were up to the roof! All of that has been fixed and the course is on its way to being pristine.
Blaketree National Golf Course
When we played in May 2009 the course was in good condition and you could see where improvements had been made and were still in progress. We rated and reviewed the course and gave it a 8.5 overall and the condition a 7. With all the improvements, Blaketree is now starting to get some of the recognition it deserves:
- in 2008, the Dallas Morning News rated it # 2 in the "medium price range golf courses" category and #25 in the "Top 50 public courses in the state of Texas"
- Avid Golfer gave it a "Best Kept Secret" in 2004 and a "Must Play" in 2005
- Houston Chronicle rated the signature 12th hole as the 6th hardest par 4 in the Houston area
If the improvements continue, we think you'll see Blaketree National Golf Club continue to receive top accolades in the Lone Star State. This is a fantastic layout that is a hoot to play. You'll find a little bit of everything that makes golf enjoyable - beautiful scenery, challenging but fair layout, tough greens, excellent bunkering, water holes, dog legs, blind shots, excellent pace of play, plenty of 50' pine and oak trees, classic risk reward opportunities, elevation changes, lots of rolling terrain, and 1400 acres of nothing but wildlife, trees, and a golf course - no homes, no street noise, no buildings. All you're going to hear during your round are the sounds of birds, wood peckers, squirrels, the ping of titanium drivers, the occasional cuss words and hurrahs, and lots of noise as balls ricochet from tree to tree. And best of all, you can get all of that at a very reasonable price! Read our review of Blaketree National Golf Club. `
With 5 tee boxes (ranging from 5040 to 7196 yards) you need to find a tee box that will fit your game if you want to score well. Mr Blake wanted his visitors to leave wanting more, and he didn't want to let anyone figure out the course on the first trip. As such, you might want to move up a tee box on your first outing. This is a challenging 18 holes with a slope of 139 and rating of 75.2 from the tips! Before you head out, practice hitting them straight or go buy another sleeve of balls. If you got it right on the range, you can bring the driver out on a number of holes and let-er-rip - just don't miss the fairly forgiving and rolling fairways. You need to manage the course because you'll encounter a number of holes that if you're short you can't make the turn or if you're long you're in the trees or some other hazard. Take #4 for example, a 458 yard par 4 (handicap #5) dog leg left around a lake to a small green. From the elevated tee box if you hit long right, bring out the chain saw and if you miss left you'll need flippers and a mask.
What also makes Blaketree National Golf Course challenging are the greens. They seem to be smaller than normal, are of various shapes and sizes, have lots of slope, are traditionally very fast, and they are pretty challenging. When we played the greens had just been aerated but we found them to be true, fast, and hard to read. Spend some time on the putting green getting used to them before you head out.
Blaketree is challenging, but it's very scenic and a lot of fun to play. There are some fantastic holes, take #12 for example - this beautiful uphill then dramatic downhill 491 par 4 (handicap #2) requires a precise shot to the top of the hill to reach the well guarded green. Be aware of the fairway that funnels the ball into the lake and study your second shot because it needs to be precise. The oblong small green is tangential to the lake protecting the front of the green and beware of the four bunkers in the back. This hole might remind you of another hole made famous by Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, and television - the 11th at Augusta National! Get a good nights sleep and reload with a new sleeve of balls - you will want to play this 18 again.
Blaketree's Magnolia Cottage
The house that Mr. Blake built and furnished for his family and friends use is now where you can stay and play Blaketree Golf Course. And it is the perfect place to get a good nights sleep and then step our your back door to tee off the next morning. When was the last time you stayed in a cottage that has housed movie stars, golf pros, and a president? You're going to love this upscale well appointed 4 bedroom cottage.
From the front door you pass by four separate themed bedrooms (Presidential, golf, etc.), each with two very comfortable double beds and their own bathroom and shower on your way to the main part of the cottage. You'll find a well equipped kitchen with everything you need to whip up an excellent dinner or blend a perfect margarita after a fun round of golf. Take that margarita and some appetizers and choose one of the following:
- catch up on the news or latest golf tournament on the big screen in the rich wood paneled living room complete with overstuffed comfy sofas and chairs
- head to the separate game room with a great view of the course and use the game table for some dominos, bridge, or poker and try to win back you golf losses
- proceed directly to the large outside deck, plop your body in a lounge chair, watch the golfers tee off, start the BBQ grill, or just sip your drink and think about how you'll play better tomorrow
Magnolia Cottage has everything you need for a fun weekend. The dining room is perfect for enjoying a home cooked meal or an evening of games. If for some reason you need to wash, there is a full size washer and dryer. And best of all, when you check in your personal golf cart will be waiting for you at the front door.
The cottage deck overlooks the tee box and fairway of the first hole and the pro shop, grill, and practice facility which are a short chip shot away. The Pro Shop is fairly well stocked with the latest equipment and clothing. You might consider a lesson from golf professional Bill Burford - I know I needed one after I got off the course. The Grill hours vary by season but on the weekends it's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Grill serves a variety of items plus beer, wine, and sprits. The grill's deck is a fantastic spot for morning coffee, lunch, or a round of drinks after golf.
In early 2009 when we visited, you couldn't beat their stay and play package - $125 per night per person for lodging and unlimited golf! What a deal!
What To Do!
If for some reason you feel the need to play some other courses during your stay at Blaketree, you've got lots of fantastic choices within twenty to thirty minutes. When we stayed, one of the nearby courses that we played and enjoyed was High Meadow Ranch - read our review of High Meadow Ranch to learn more. This will help you find some other nearby courses to play. You might also enjoy reading about our Southeast Texas Golfing Vacation.
If you have a boat and what to enjoy a great lake, Lake Conroe is about 25 minutes east of Blaketree and its perfect for cruising (some stunning homes along the lake), bar hopping, dining on the water, skiing/boarding, fishing, or just enjoying a relaxing day on the water. To learn more, check out our and our review of Lake Conroe. If you don't have a boat, don't let that stop you. There are boat rentals and fishing guides that are waiting to get you out on the lake.
If you don't want to cook or you need to escape for some nightlife, Conroe has some fun bars on the water with music, there is a small bar and grill in Dobbin, and nearby Magnolia has some restaurants. We enjoyed some good seafood at Kemah Seafood and Mexican food at Rancho Grande. You'll also find some shops in Magnolia and plenty of upscale shopping, nightlife, and restaurants in the Woodlands (30 to 40 minutes away).
Bottom line - Blaketree National Golf Club is a fantastic track and if conditions continue to improve, it could be one of the best in Texas - fun, challenging, lots of variety, outstanding layout, and lots of variety. Magnolia cottage is first class and a perfect place to stay for a night, weekend, or longer. And all of that at an outstanding price! The cottage stays pretty busy, so call and book a reservation early.