Traditions Club Review
Traditions Club at Texas A&M is a Jack Nicklaus and Jack Nicklaus II co-design which opened in Bryan, Texas and is home to the Aggie men’s and women’s golf team. Jack designed an 18 outstanding holes of golf in the center of 900 acres of some surprisingly beautiful terrain that makes playing the 7121 yard private course fun, scenic, and challenging. Jack Nicklaus sums it up well: “it’s an incredible piece of property with naturally rolling terrain, large native trees, and Turkey Creek.”
The natural terrain with several varieties of stately hardwoods creates plenty of challenges that you’ll need to manage during your round, some of which include: forced carries on 15 holes over ravines carved deep by the creek, wetlands and natural areas plus elevated tee shots, sloping fairways, downhill as well as uphill shots, and the meandering Turkey Creek crisscrossing several fairways.
On top of all that there are dog legs, blind shots, several risk reward opportunities, 68 strategically placed bunkers, and challenging green complexes – all of which may be why the course has a rating of 126 to 151 – making it one of the toughest courses from the tips in Texas. Traditions Club is a true test of your game from tee to green.
But don’t let all of that discourage you from doing whatever it takes to play this outstanding golf course. If you don’t know a member, you can become one if you want to play the course (rates are very reasonable for such a quality course and the resort style amenities) or you can sign up for one of their stay & play packages which gives you the right to play the course and enjoy all of the Club’s amenities – read our review of the Traditions Club Stay & Play to learn more.
Before you tee off at Traditions Club, make sure you spend some time at the range, putting green, and bunker area, pick the right set of tee boxes, study the yardage card carefully, and consider leaving the big dog in the bag. Or better yet play the practice 19th hole first which is somewhat representative of the course. You’re in for a scenic, fun, and demanding ride that puts a premium on accuracy over distance. During your round, you'll be tempted to try several risk reward opportunities that are very high risk and may cause your score to skyrocket! And whatever you don' be macho – move up a set of tee boxes for a more relaxing and enjoyable round.
The front nine is incredible and home to several “Wow” holes that are not only visually stunning but challenging from the tee box to the cup. Some of the “Wow” holes include:
- #5 was our first "Wow" – a 539 par 5 with a sweeping and sloping downhill fairway with a creek crossing in front the green n
- another "Wow" on #6 which is a short 354 yard par four that demands an accurate tee shot from an elevated tee box to avoid the three huge bunkers plus a small pot bunker and not overshoot the fairway and land in the creek crossing the fairway – that's followed by a demanding approach shot to a green guarded by 3 nasty bunkers
- #8 is the #1 handicap hole with a risk reward shot off the tee box to try and fly the creek in a deep ravine and a bunker to shorten this dog left 584 yard par 5 – survive the tee shot and you'll need at least a couple more precise shots to stay in the narrow fairway, fly the creek in front of the green, and avoid 4 greenside bunkers
The back nine is equally impressive and seemed to have much wider and more forgiving fairways but much tougher greens with severe slope, plenty of undulation, plus tiers and ridges and severe slope back to the fairway. Some will say that this nine is tougher – we though it was a little easier than the front. A couple of our favorites on this nine included:
- #10 is another "Wow" hole – a 559 yard par 5 (#2 handicap) with a downhill shot to a dog left fairway then a narrow shot across a creek and natural area crossing the fairway (which is a roller coaster ride) leading to green set off to the right – you need to deploy some good course management on this beauty
- #13 is only 381 yards but the tight fairway takes a 90 degree turn right and has a creek and ravine to cross leading to a tough green with plenty of slope, a big tier, and very steep slope in front – off the tee a short drive on the right will find a bunk and a drive that's too long is lost in the woods
- #16 is a very scenic par three with a creek crossing in front of the tee box and a forced carry over of 190 yards from the tips accoss a lake to a green guarded by the lake, a huge bunker on the left front, trees in back, and a good sized bunker on the right
The fairway’s at Traditions Club at Texas A&M vary from tight and narrow to ample and forgiving where you can pull out the big dog and let it rip. All of the fairways are tree lined and the front nine has some beautiful huge homes watching you play but they shouldn't come into play. When we played in October, despite the harsh Texas weather, the fairways were in very good condition – lush, plush, and a real pleasure to hit from.
If you miss the fairway, the rough is thick and dense and tends to hold the ball up, making for a relatively easy recovery shot. If you really spray the ball, you’re wet, deep in the trees, or lost in a deep ravine, native area, or wetland. The entire course is very well maintained and manicured.
Traditions Club’s greens were also near perfect and they were soft, smooth, and ran at a good speed of around a 11. Most are raised with a steep front making a bump and run tough and all are well guarded with plenty of bunkers, trees, creeks, grass swales, and natural areas. They vary in shape and size ranging from a postage stamp to one green that could have it's own zip code. Practice putting before you head out – the greens are challenging with some severe slope, multiple tiers, and spines and very subtle breaks. Pin placement can make two and three putts common.
The white sand bunkers are fantastic – but some are steep and deep and they are all shapes and sizes from pot to some huge monsters. The sand is soft and fluffy and thick. At times I thought I was on the sandy beaches of Destin, Florida – maybe that was one of the reasons I spent so much time in the bunkers; the only thing missing was a Pina Coloda and an umbrella! The bunker faces vary from a foot or so to some very steep and deep monsters where if you’re up against the lip, you’re in for a sand storm. After practicing your putting, go practice your sand shots. I’m still removing sand from my shoes, pockets, hair, and several orifices.
Traditions Club is stunning and the facilities and stay & play lodging are equally impressive. The stay & play package is an excellent way to experience this outstanding course and all of its amenities.
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The club house is first class with a good restaurant, bar, wine cellar, meeting rooms, great patio, well stocked pro shop, and fantastic men’s and women’s locker rooms with a bar, game room, showers, lockers, and a well equipped fitness center. Even the carts are special - new, aluminum wheels, and maroon with a leather steering wheel and soft leather seats plus a ball and club washer! There is also a very complete Golf Academy for everything from club fitting to swing analysis. Service is excellent and all of the members we encountered were very friendly - which is not typical of most exclusive private clubs.
enjoyed their stay and play in nov 2014