New golf course opens – stop the presses

Ninth hole at Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course
Courtesy of Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course
With five sets of tees and wide, inviting fairways, "the Max" can be configured from a tournament test of more than 7,200 yards to an ideal challenge for beginners at less than 5,000 yards.

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012 | 9:23 p.m.

Seems like almost all the news surrounding golf course construction in the United States in recent years has been downbeat – courses closing, new development projects postponed or cancelled. But there’s great news down in the border town of Laredo, Texas, where a new city-owned course is set to open next weekend (Oct. 19).

The Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course – already nicknamed "the Max" -- is the first city-owned golf facility in Laredo, as well as one of only a handful of new courses to open in the United States this year.

Designed by Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course Architects, the par-72 layout is routed along bluffs overlooking the Rio Grande and winds through 270 acres of sandy terrain. Encompassing almost a mile of riverfront property, the course presents four holes that play adjacent to and high above the water as it traverses deep arroyos and navigates through 30-foot tall mesquite woodlands and open farmland.

With five sets of tees and wide, inviting fairways throughout, the course can be configured as a tournament test of more than 7,200 yards, yet is still a perfect fit for golfers who desire a more manageable challenge of less than 5,000 yards. The routing creates "courses within the course" with the closing nine presenting returning loops of three holes and six holes flanking the practice facility.

This concept allows for play of three, six, nine or 18 holes as well as maximizing the facility’s ability to provide instruction. Each hole also integrates "family tees" to encourage parents and children to play together.

Green fees for Laredo residents range from $33.50 to $46, while non-residents – including the flocks of snowbirds who winter in south Texas – will pay between $46 and $56. There are also discount rates for seniors and juniors.

The $6.6 million project – which includes the course, clubhouse, maintenance facility and roads – was made possible through the donation of 390 acres north of the city by the family of the late Max Mandel, a Laredo bank executive who was involved in a variety of civic issues over almost half a century.

"We understand how an exceptional new golf course like this can enrich a community," said course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., who has created more than 270 courses in more than 40 countries on six continents.  "The impact reaches beyond just those who play golf.  It reflects upon the identity of Laredo, which may now be seen as an even more inviting place to develop businesses and raise families."

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