By Mike Reeder – Contributing Writer/Northwest Weekly
03/25/2010 – For the second year in a row, a panel of experts assembled by The Dallas Morning News has ranked the golf course at Cordillera Ranch the fourth best course in its annual rankings of the state’s overall Top 50. The same 100-member panel also designated Cordillera’s 16th hole as the most beautiful in Texas for a second consecutive year.
“That’s a fairly sophisticated panel,” said Chris Hill, the vice president of Cordillera Ranch Development Corp and its director of operations and sales marketing.
“I like the fact that it’s golf experts from all over Texas, and it’s probably the most looked-at rankings in the state.”
Cordillera Ranch is an 8,700-acre upscale housing development located northeast of Boerne off Highway 46. Land sales and home construction began in 1997, but plans for a golf course were not announced until 2003. The Jack Nicklaus Signature course, designed by the golf legend himself, did not open until 2007. It plays 7,464 yards from the championship tees and winds through some of the most scenic landscape in the Guadalupe River valley.
Head golf pro Mark DeWall said Nicklaus did a masterful job of incorporating the natural beauty and contours of the property into the course.
“He just kind of peeled back some of the layers,” DeWall said. “It seems like a lot of the holes are set exactly where they’re supposed to be.”
The crown jewel is the 16th hole, which measures 172 yards from the tips. Its narrow, elevated green is flanked by waterfalls and sits over a 40-foot-deep canyon.
“It’s something I had never seen before,” DeWall said. “It’s unique to Texas. With the sounds of the waterfalls and the beauty of the setting it feels almost like paradise.”
DeWall said the appeal is not strictly aesthetic. The 16th hole and the entire, lengthy course can be challenging, with golfers required to read shifting winds and cope with greens that he calls fast, but fair.
“The 16th reminds me a little of the number 12 hole at Augusta,” DeWall said. “You have to be very careful. The wind conditions can dictate a lot of the playability. The greens are challenging but they’re very fair and they’re really what make the course a lot of fun. Our course superintendent does a great job of keeping them in shape.”
While property sales at Cordillera have never really lagged despite an overall decline in the local real estate market, Hill said the golf course has expanded his sales base.
“When we added the course and the Nicklaus name our market went from primarily San Antonio and then Texas to very national,” Hill said. “It’s clearly made our market come from a much broader source.”
So far, the Cordillera Golf Club has not hosted any outside tournaments, but Hill said he can foresee a time when it might seek out some of the more prestigious amateur events. While it is not a public course, its use is not restricted to property owners, and a limited number of golf club memberships remain available for sale. Players interested in adding Cordillera to their list of golf destinations should contact Rod Boyle, the membership sales director at Cordillera Ranch.
“A lot of new clubs and course have really struggled in the last three or four years, but we’re very fortunate,” Hill said. “We’ve gotten more than 400 golf club members out of the 450 we can sell. If someone has an interest in joining Rod will set you up and take you out for a round. A lot of times we’ll pair somebody up with the members out here and they can share their stories.”
Two other San Antonio area courses also made the Dallas Morning News overall Top 50 list. Briggs Ranch Golf Club ranked 18th and Oak Hills Country Club came in at 46. The same panel also ranked the top 50 courses in the state open to the public. The Resort Course at La Cantera led the way in San Antonio at number 14, followed by the Pecan Valley Club (15), the Quarry Golf Club (16), the Republic Golf Club (29), The Palmer Course at La Cantera (30), Hyatt Hill Country Resort (37), Brackenridge Park Golf Course (39) and Canyon Springs Golf Club (40).