Wow, what a pleasant surprise and after playing, we were not surprised that River Bend Golf Course was named by Golf Digest as a "Best Places To Play" in 2008/2009. River Bend Golf Course plays along a bend of the Rio Grande River and through River Bend Resort which is a very nice, well manicured and landscaped resort community of RV rentals lots, town homes, and residential property. The course is open to the public and a must play if you're in the Valley.
Here's some of the reasons why we liked River Bend Golf Course:
with 4 sets of tee boxes, the course is a little short but it's a tad demanding, but fair and a blast to play
fairways range from tight "don't miss um" to wide and forgiving "let-er-rip"
there is lots of variety with each hole offering something a little new and different
there are long and tough par 3's, some go for the green birdie opportunities, and some holes that require good course management and club selection and precision on the approach
there is a good mixture of trees, mounds, dog legs, raised various sized greens, intimidating water carries, challenging putting surfaces, and risk reward opportunities – all of which will test your game but it won't beat you up
A few of the holes that we really liked included:
#5, the number 1 handicap hole is a 567 yard dog leg left with a tight fairway that plays along the Rio Grande River – a tree about a 100 to 150 yards in front of the tee box forces you to fly it or head right and another tree in the fairway at 125 out requires a precise approach shot
the two par 3's (234 and 223 yards) require a precise tee shot for par
#15 is fun – a 431 yard par 4 with a dry deep creek bed along the right side that cuts into three quarters of the fairway starting at 150 out – the fairway is tight tee to green
#17 is a 158 yard par 3 that's all carry from an elevated back tee box over the lake to a green with water around three quarters of it
The fairways range from tree lined to lined by a mixture of natural areas, water, or residences – all of which can come into play. The fairways are very tight and favor accuracy over distance. The back nine seemed a little more open and forgiving. The fairways are dry and firm with some bare spots and rough ranges from a tad thick to thin and playable. The rough also has several brown/bare/dirt spots.
The greens ranged from on the small side to about average. Some are raised, most are relatively flat but you will encounter some fairly significant slope and some undulation that can cause a three putt if you're not careful. They were in good condition, firm but held the ball well, and ran at a good speed.
You can leave your sand wedge at home, River Bend doesn't have any sand unless you really spray the ball in the Rio Grande or into some farm land.
Bottom line – well worth playing thanks to reasonable rates, fun and challenging holes, and fair conditions.