Pines Springs Golf Course which opened in 2000 was acquired from bankruptcy by a new ownership and management team that took over in April 2010. The previous owners had neglected the course over the last few years and when the new owner took over the greens and fairways were mostly dirt or weeds, the bunkers were overgrown with weeds, and the clubhouse was showing signs of neglect. The new owner, Larry Wood, who was the superintendent at Oak Cliff in Dallas and assistant superintendent at the prestigious Dallas Athletic Golf Club, is committed to making Pine Springs the "premier east Texas golf facility."
From talking to a couple different people familiar with the before and after, Larry and his team have made significant improvements. When we played in August 2010, the fairways were in pretty good condition with relatively few bare spots, the greens were in above average condition with a small brown spots but very playable, and all but a couple bunkers had been redone and they were in perfect condition with soft fluffy sand. We rated the condition about a 7 and based on what we saw and heard and the progress over the last four months, by the end of the year we would expect the conditions to be around an 8.5 or 9.
Pine Springs Golf Course plays through some gently rolling country land just north of Tyler. As such it's peaceful and quiet with tree lined fairways and no homes with barking dogs to distract you from your game. In fact, this is a course where if you pick the right set of tee boxes and play strategically, you can have a very good score and a relaxing and fun round. From tips with a slope of 118 and rating of 68.7, Pine Springs is pretty straightforward and traditional with mostly straight fairways, some water to contend with, and only 11 bunkers to watch out for.
In most cases you can see the pin from the tee box and you'll know what you're up against. The majority of the fairways are flat, wide, and forgiving – in most cases you can pull out the driver and let-er-rip. A lot of the fairways are side-by-side and if you land in the wrong fairway you'll most likely still have a good recovery shot at the green or back to the right fairway to save par.
With that said, on Pine Springs Golf Course you'll find some very fun holes that require some strategy, good club selection, target shots, forced carries, and some great risk reward opportunities. For example:
- #10 is a 180 yard downhill shot to a huge contoured and undulating oblong green with severe slope toward the pond – pin placement can cause a couple extra putts on this fun hole
- #11 has an elevated tee box and from the two back tees you'll face an intimidating carry over water to a landing zone that looks narrow thanks to encroaching trees and your drive needs to be accurate to give you a good shot at the slightly dog leg left green on this 522 yard par 5
- #15, a 515 yard par 5, gives you a great risk reward shot for an eagle if you think you can carry the trees on your drive and avoid the bunker just about where your ball wants to land and your second shot requires some target golf to avoid the two ponds on the left and the severe slope down the right side of the fairway to another pond – all of which make the fairway leading to the green very narrow – you'll want to play this beauty again
- survive 15 and you'll love #16 which from the two back tees has a forced carry to a very narrow sloping toward the water fairway that horseshoes around the lake to the green – long hitters may be able to drive the green (339 yards out) or come very close for a potential eagle or birdie
Don't let those holes scare you, the front two tee boxes eliminate a lot of the carry making the hole much shorter and easier. The two back tee boxes have yardages of 6149 and 6509 while the front two are perfect (4404 and 5171 yards) for seniors, most lady golfers, and kids
The greens were about average speed and size and most were relatively flat with some minor slope. The greens on the back seem a lot tougher than the front with more slope and undulation. The greens had just been sanded when we played but still held well, were fairly smooth, very true, and easy to read, making putting pretty straightforward.
There are only 11 bunkers to contend with and all but a couple of them are protecting the green, but they aren't that large and they seemed easy to avoid. Except for #17 which is a 203 yard par 3 over a valley to a green with a fairly large bunker guarding the right front side – not only did we find that bunker but one of us landed smack dab on the small grass patch in the middle of the bunker, which made for an challenging second shot on this fun par 3.
If you're looking for a relaxing and enjoyable round of golf that won't push you hard or cost you a lot of golf balls or an arm and leg to play, then you need to give Pine Springs Golf Course a try. We can't wait to come back in six months to a year to check out the improvements and changes to the course that Larry and his team plan to make.
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Service is good, except that cart service is limited. The pro shop has limited gear and equipment. And the grill will be serving liquor and burgers and dogs starting in early September 2010. There is a a driving range and putting green for you to warm up on.