Woodlake Golf Club was designed by Desmond Muirhead and opened in 1972 as the new host course for the PGA Texas Open and continued to host the Open for four more years. You can play the same holes where many of the game’s greatest golfers competed and Ben Crenshaw made his debut and won his first pro tournament in 1973.
Woodlake Golf Club is northeast of downtown San Antonio and when it opened it had a reputation as a links style course. Today, hundreds of trees have matured and the course is a moderate length parkland style course at 6691 yards from the tips. But don’t let the length be deceiving, with four sets of tee boxes, you best pick the right set and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Woodlake puts a premium on accuracy over distance – your drives need to be well positioned for challenging approach shots and with undulating greens, you need to leave the ball beneath the pin. Water on 13 holes, risk reward opportunities, forced carries, 37 bunkers, dog legs, blind shots, pinched fairways, uphill as well as downhill shots, contoured fairways and more make this a demanding course and maybe a little harder than it’s slope of 121 to 130. And the greens can be challenging thanks to the slope.
But don’t let all of that scare you and keep you from playing Woodlake Golf Club – it’s fair but demanding and home to a good layout with plenty of variety and a lot of fun holes. Warm up on the range and putting green and invest in a yardage card – the tips and yardages to hazards and the green will help your score. Some of the holes we particularly liked included:
- #2, a short 322 yard par 4 dog leg left, requires a precise drive if you want to be on the green in two – too long on the right and you’re under the trees or blocked by them and too long left and you’re in the lake
- The 515 yard par 5 5thhole has two nasty bunkers pinching the fairway in your drive’s landing zone and the downhill approach to the green is very treacherous (better to lay up) thanks to a lake on the left side and one on the right guarding a green with left and right side bunkers
- Bring out an old ball on the 199 par 3 6thhole – it’s all carry over the lake to the green
- An elevated tee box on the signature hole (#12 a 430 yard par 4) gives you a good look at what you’re up against which is a big lake with multiple fingers cutting into the fairway – a great risk reward shot to see how much of the lake you think you can carry
- You’ll want to play the finishing hole again – a 557 par 5 with a narrow downhill fairway with OB on the left and water on the right off the tee box then across a lake in the fairway
Woodlake Golf Club, like all the other courses in Texas, had suffered through a harsh winter and severe drought plus record heat – all of which had impacted the course conditions. Plus making the transistion to recycled water had done some damage. As such the fairways and roughs were in bad shape with weeds, bare spots, clover, ants, and more. Some of the greens had some damage.
The fairways are tree lined and can be a little tight. Most are flat and a few have some slope, contour, and mounding. Some holes have homes set well back that can come into play if you tend to really spray the ball.
The greens range from small to medium sized and most are oval. All of the greens are elevated making bump and runs more difficult and if you came in high and short, you’re likely to roll back down to the fairway. Study your putts carefully because the slope can be deceiving. The greens were running a little slow (around an 8 when they normally run about a 10) and bumpy as they transitioned to dormant. Some had some damage and the majority are guarded with bunkers.
The bunkers could use a little TLC and they range from small to good sized with lips of 1 to 4 feet or more. The sand was wet when we played so it has hard to judge it but it appeared to be thick and a little heavy.
Bottom line – a great layout with some fun and demanding holes and an affordable value.
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Service is ok and the staff is friendly. The bar has drinks and hot doga and some premade sandwiches. The putting green and driving range are ok.