Review of The Campus Course at Texas A & M
The Campus Course at Texas A&M was designed by Ralph Plummer and first opened for play in 1951 was renovated by well-known architect Jeff Blume (a 1989 Aggie) in 2013. This multi-million dollar renovation included significant changes to the course layout and design, a driving range and short game practice area, and a new club house and tournament pavilion that will be added in the near future.
Jeff must have moved a lot of dirt to give the fairways plenty of contour, raise the greens, and dig and then fill over 150 bunkers with soft white sand. Jeff made the course both challenging but playable for all levels of players – from the tips it’s 7008 yards with a slope and rating of 73.8 and 130 but there are 5 other tee boxes with yardages of 4968 to 6503 yards. You need to play strategically, not take too many risks, avoid water on 14 holes, and deploy your best sand game because there are 153 bunkers you’ll need to stay out of.
The fairways are wide and forgiving off the tee box but if you spray it or over hit the ball, you’re likely wet or sandy. There are also 9 dog legs that you need to position your shot for. But what makes the Campus Course challenging are the approach shots to the greens – all of the greens are well guarded with one to five bunkers and most of the greens are raised which means bump and runs won’t work and if you don’t hold the green you’ve got a tough chip back up to the green, a sand shot, or you’re wet.
But don’t let all of that scare you away from playing the Campus Course at A&M – the course is fair and a lot of fun to play. The front nine seems a little easier, has 7 less bunkers, and offers a good chance to score well. The back nine is more interesting, a little harder, and has some excellent risk reward opportunities. Part of what we think makes playing the Campus Course interesting is that Jeff designed several holes with risk reward opportunities – allowing you to risk shortening the hole or taking a safer but longer approach to the green.
Some of the holes we really liked include:
- #1 a 550 yard par 5 sets the stage for your round – 8 bunkers in your landing zone off the tee box, a slight downhill shot down an wide mini roller coaster fairway, followed by an approach shot over a creek crossing in front of a green surrounded by 3 bunkers
- #3 is another par 5 with water from tee to green on the right – off the tee the water cuts into the fairway and offers an excellent risk reward shot if you think you and carry it and the three bunkers to shorten the hole as the fairway turns right
- #8 is a 465 yard dog leg right with another excellent risk reward opportunity if you think you can fly three big bunkers and stay away from some trees on the right
- #10 makes you decide which side of a fairway split by some trees and rough you’re going to take – whichever way you go you’ll need to avoid 5 bunkers on left and 6 on the right side plus some mounding
- #15 is another risk reward opportunity – long risky hitters can try to carry all of the lake (over 248 yards from the tips) or bite off less to carry over the lake but a much longer shot down a fairway with a minefield of 13 bunkers
- On #17 you can stay left on a wide fairway and then fly a creek to the green with a big front facing bunker and 4 hidden bunkers off the back or try flying the lake with a minimum 232 yard shot to carry the lake or a 332 yard drive to stuff it on the green
When we played in October 2014 the fairways were near perfect. All but a couple of the fairways are wide and forgiving off the tee but they are littered with bunkers of all shapes and sizes – and in a couple cases you'll find bunkers in the middle of the fairway. The first cut of the rough was wide and playable and with grass that held the ball up. Miss that and you've got trouble with thicker rough or water. A lot of the fairways are side by side but wide enough that it's hard to hit into the other fairway. The perimeter holes (2, 3, 4, 7, 12, and 18) play along the road with traffic noise, but you need to really spray it to hit a car!
The Campus Course greens were also in near perfect condition and the greens are what make this course tough. They are raised, well guarded, and somewhat fast at around 10. You can't bump and run and if you can't hold the green you've got a tough shot back or out of the sand. The are soft and run true and have some minor slope and contour which means very subtle breaks that can surprise you.
The bunkers are everywhere but the good news is that the sand is soft and fluffy and in most cases the lips are manageable. The Campus Course bunkers range from small somewhat deep and steep to long skinny multi-fingered monsters. A lot of the greens have bunkers hidden off the back side – a surprise if you don't hold the green.
Bottom line – an interesting layout that's fair but with demanding greens and lots of bunkers. A must play if you're in the area.
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The pro shop is pretty well stocked with a lot of maroon A&M gear! The grill has burgers, sandwiches, and more. The practice facilities are very good.