We had head some good things about the Stay & Play Package at Columbia Lakes Resort so as part of a Thanksgiving trip to Port Aransas, we just had to check it out on our way home to Cedar Creek Lake. And it lived up to our expectations - outstanding very friendly service, a fun 18 holes of golf on a reworked Tom Fazio course, tasty food, and spacious and comfortable accommodations overlooking one of the golf holes - all at a reasonable price! Plus true Southern Texas hospitality is included at no additional charge.
Columbia Lakes Resort is located in West Columbia about 50 miles west of Houston. The Resort sits on 2000 wooded acres that are accented by lagoons and lakes and nested under huge sprawling stately oak trees with that eerie Spanish Moss hanging from long twisting and turning branches. Prior to 2001, Columbia Lakes Resort and the golf course had been neglected and the conditions had degraded. The new owners have spent a considerable amount of time, money, and effort in renovating and remodeling the course and amenities. For example, new state-of-the-art drainage systems were installed in every bunker, the greens and fairways were brought back to good condition, the sand traps and faces were redone and resoded, and the course started receiving the TLC that it badly needed. Shortly after the new owners took over, Golf Digest awarded Columbia Lakes it's Four Star rating in the "Best Places to Play" category! Bob Putt, a very friendly and service oriented co-owner stated: "we plan to exceed this Four Star rating and climb even higher in the rankings." We hadn't experienced the before conditions, but can attest to the focus on improvements, the good conditions on the golf course, and a clean and comfortable cottage.
We got in late to Columbia Lakes on our first night, checked-in and drove through those eerie trees to our cottage, where we dumped the bags, popped a cold beer, played a game of dominos, and walked over to Mulligans just before they closed to scarf down some good food, including a huge tasty cheeseburger. A few more rounds of dominos and drinks and we went to bed excited about seeing what Columbia Lakes looked like in the day time and playing 18 holes of golf. I awoke the next morning, shook out the sleepies, downed a cup of coffee and a donut, put on the golf shoes, and opened the door to go hit some golf balls at the range and found two golf carts had been delivered to our front door - now that's service and a nice touch! Don't know what happened but the golf cart took me to Mulligans, instead of the range, where I enjoyed a good breakfast. Shortly after that we were loaded into the carts and ready to tee off. Looking back on it, I might have played better if I had skipped that good breakfast and gone to the range!
Columbia Lakes Resort golf course was originally designed by Jack Mills in 1973 and later reworked by one of the best golf course designers in the United States, Tom Fazio. Fazio has earned the label of "America's Greatest Living Architect," and he is clearly our favorite architect because every course we have played that he designed has been fun, challenging but fair and a blast to play with some unique and interesting holes. And he did a good job at Columbia Lakes by creating a number of his signature steep, deep, and treacherous bunkers as well as other hazards to keep you on your game. All the fairways are tree lined and if you spray the ball, you'll be under that draping Spanish moss and facing a challenging recovery shot - I know, I had lots of experience.
Columbia Lakes Golf Course has four sets of tee boxes plus a combo tee box and yardages ranging from 5325 yards to 7006 from the tips and it's no walk in the park with a slope ranging from 125 to 136. All of the fairways are tree lined with stately oaks laced with Spanish moss and they range from ample to pretty tight. Along the way from the tee box to the pin you'll pass some beautiful homes, strategically placed fairway bunkers, crystal clear lakes and streams, and enjoy some very fun holes. Rates are reasonable and the conditions were very good considering that all of Texas had suffered through a harsh winter, severe drought, and record high temperatures! We rated Columbia Lakes 8.6 stars out of ten - read our review of Columbia Lakes Golf Course to learn more.
Scattered under those huge oaks with draping Spanish moss are the 38 cottages that are a part of the stay and play lodging for Columbia Lakes. The cottages are a combination of :
We stayed in the standard four bedroom cottage suite and found it very clean and comfortable. Each of the bedrooms were spacious and had a private bathroom, ceiling fan, dresser, and two of the four had TVs. Our cottage had a large living area with a sofa, loveseat, and dining table with chairs plus a kitchen with a range, microwave, and refrigerator, and coffee pot - perfect for a golf outing or getaway with family or your golfing buddies. Our patio overlooked a common green area and we could have caught some fish in the creek running several yards in front of our patio. Some of the cottages overlook the 15th hole - you can sit on the back porch and heckle the golfers, catch stray golf balls, or dream about how you'll par that hole tomorrow!
Within a five iron shot of our cottage is Mulligan's which is perfect for a meal or drink on the outdoor patio under the sprawling oaks, breakfast before you start the day, lunch at the turn, or a burger or pizza for dinner. Before our first round I loaded up on the Sausage Plate - two sausage, two eggs, two pancakes, toast, and hash browns which came to a whopping $6.25 - I paid $21 for a smaller breakfast at a resort in San Antonio!
All those carbs didn't help my score one bit, or maybe they did and my score would have been even worse without it. During our stay, we also enjoyed at Mulligans some wings, pizza, huge delicious burger, and Frito Pie with chili and cheese, and a Chef Salad over the next couple days - all of which were good and didn't break the bank.
The Brazos Room is where Chef David Vasques serves creative American Southwest and Gulf Coast Seafood as well as many other tantalizing signature dishes on the weekends only. The restaurant was closed when we visited but I did talk to the Chef and checked out his dinner menu - appetizers like chicken quesadillas, homemade crabcakes, or a shrimp cocktail; several salads; and plenty of entrees like Chicken Marsala, Grilled Tuna Steak With Pineapple Relish, Snapper Pontchartrain, Steak Diane, or a 12 ounce ribeye; and if you still have room, there are desserts like Banana's Foster, Molten Chocolate Cake, or Ice Cream Pecan Ball. Yum, Yum, Yum - good stuff and reasonably priced! And each Sunday there is a Sunday Brunch with everything from Belgium Waffles to omelets to Eggs Benedict to Pan Seared Snapper or Chicken Bearnaise!
After dinner at Mulligans, we had to stop over at the Sports Bar for a nightcap and try all the games - shuffle board, pool, darts, and ping pong and just like at golf, I lost each one and ended up buying drinks all night. Next week I'm heading to the range and the local pool hall to practice. The Sports Bar is a cozy spot with a flat screens, several games, a juke box, and dance floor. I heard the week before we arrived that the Sports Bar was home to a Columbia Lakes IDOL contest and there were some very talented singers! On several weekends you can catch live entertainment or Karaoke.
In addition to a fun Fazio golf course, some of the amenities at Columbia Lakes Resort that you can enjoy during your golf stay and play include:
Over looking the putting green and the 9th hole the Columbia Lake's Clubhouse is home to men's and women's locker rooms including a card room; several meeting rooms, a Day Spa with a variety of services, the Sports Bar and Brazos Room Restaurant, and a well stocked pro shop with everything you need to look good and play well. Columbia Lakes Resort also has a conference hall with over 10,000 square feet of meeting space for weddings, reunions, corporate events, or golf tournaments.
Bottom line - a great place for a weekend, or longer, of golf with outstanding Texas hospitality, good food, clean and spacious accommodations, and a fun and demanding 18 holes of golf - all at a very reasonable price.