Review of Rockwall Golf & Athletic Club
The Shores Country Club in Rockwall, which had been run into the ground by the previous golf management company, has been resurrected as Rockwall Golf & Athletic Club and should be added to your list of courses to play in the Dallas area. Originally designed by Ralph Plummer in 1970, an investment group took over the course and brought in Jeff Blume to help with the renovation and resurrection of the greens and bunkers that were unsalvageable and fairways and rough that suffered from lack of attention, a tough winter, and the 2011 drought.
Some of what was done to create the new Rockwall Golf & Athletic Club and make it more playable, pleasing to the eye, and memorable included new:
- irrigation and pumping station
- tee boxes and mini-verde greens
- landscaping and trees
- reshaping and redoing bunkers
- driving range and par 3 short course
- remodeled clubhouse
- 2800 square foot covered deck
- restaurant with wood fired pizza, steaks, seafood, fresh ingredients, and homemade breads
In addition to all of that, Blume and group reshaped a couple of the mediocre holes into a new masterpiece and made significant changes to the greens and bunkers. He created more interesting green and bunker shapes, elevated the greens by a few feet, added some depth to the greenside bunkers, and built in more contour on and around the greens. Read this interesting article about rebuilding The Shores into Rockwall Golf & Athletic Club.
What an improvement and a joy to play! You'll find some risk reward opportunities, surprising elevation changes, contoured and rolling fairways, forced carries, water that will come into play on several holes, challenging green complexes, lots of tough bunkers, and some holes that demand thinking before you pull the club out of the bag as well as excellent course management and club selection skills (thanks to wind, hazards, and both uphill and downhill shots) if you want to score well. With all that to content with, the new course is also long from each of the tee boxes, so don't bite off more than you can chew.
Each of the nines at Rockwall Golf & Athletic Club is very different – the front nine is regarded as a little easier as it winds through some nice homes and has some surprising elevation changes while the back nine plays out to and along Lake Ray Hubbard. Each of the nines is scenic (with some beautiful homes, water fountains, and views of Lake Ray Hubbard) and is home to some fun holes like:
- #2 is a 404 yard uphill dog leg left par 4 with a good risk reward shot off the tee if you think you can carry the left side bunker
- #4 is a 420 yard downhill shot from an elevated tee box and down a very contoured fairway leading to a tough approach to a green with water around the right and back side
- after #9 (a 543 yard par 5 uphill into the wind hole with a creek crossing the fairway plus three bunkers) you'll be ready for a cold drink at the clubhouse
- #12 is outstanding – a 537 yard par 5 with a carry over water from the tips, the lake on the left side, cross winds off the lake, and a tough shot to a challenging green complex jutting out on a peninsula into the lake
- #14 is an intimidating 193 yard par 3 that from the tips is all carry over a lake to the green with mounding, a couple grass swales, and a large bunker
When we played in October, the fairways were in very good condition. The fairways are ample but don't spray the ball or you're in a fairly think rough, a yard, wet, or in a natural area. They range from flat to very contoured and rolling with uneven lies.
The Rockwall Golf & Athletic Club greens were outstanding – near perfect condition, soft, true, and running at a good speed. They are all shapes and sizes and all are raised and most are well guarded by bunkers, swales, and mounding – in most cases, if you miss the green and the ball will run off into tightly mowed swales. The majority of the greens are open in front which is very conducive to low trajectory or bump and run shots. The mini-verde greens range from relatively flat to some tough ones with slope, ridges, and lots of contour – which demands some careful study before you putt.
The bunkers at Rockwall Golf & Athletic Club were also in near perfect condition with soft, fluffy, and thick sand – some of the best we have played in Texas. They range in size from small pot bunkers to some real monsters which are steep and deep. Blume also created some strategically placed false front bunkers that are 30 to 60 yards from the green on some holes – which make the green complexes look much closer on the approach! Check them closely before you pull a club out of the bag.
Bottom line – a fun and very demanding course that's somewhat scenic with excellent conditions, good amenities, and a reasonable rate.
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Service is very good and friendly. The pro shop is well stocked and the practice facilities are very good. We didn't try it but we hear the restaurant is excellent.