SAN ANTONIO -- There's a little bit of everything and a whole lot of golf at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort. It has lakes, oak trees, creek beds, wildlife and a feeling of tranquility that you don't get at most golf courses. Of course, there are also 27 challenging holes.
Because the holes are pretty much isolated with no homes on them, golfers get the sense that they really are away from it all. Yet the course, though it sits on the edge of the Texas Hill Country, is well within the Alamo City with downtown just a short cab ride away, laid out in the shadows of Sea World.
"I just think more than anything else, we're back in here," said Director of Golf Mike Champaign. "It's kind of an escape from everything around you. You don't see us from the road."
The name of the resort and the course couldn't be more appropriate. It's a resort in every sense of the word, from the hotel and spa all the way around the three nines that are named for their key features -- the Oaks Course, the Lakes Course and the Creeks Course.
Hyatt challenging any way you slice it
In any combination, golfers can play 18 holes somewhere around 7,000 yards, and the course has hosted numerous professional and top amateur events over the years.
The golf course originally opened in 1993 with 18 holes, but added an additional nine in 2005. The new holes, however, were seamlessly integrated into the original design. The nine most affected by the new holes is the Creeks nine, which are all new except for the first and ninth holes. All 27 holes can be credited to Arthur Hills design. A new lake was also added in 2005, helping to give the Lakes nine its character. The Creeks nine features plenty of dry creek beds that bisect and parallel the holes, and the Oaks feature plenty of prominent live oak trees.
For the record, the combinations play as the following par 72s: Lakes/Oaks -- 6,940 yards with a slope/rating of 73.7/136; Lakes/Creeks -- 6,932 (73.7/132) and Creeks/Oaks -- 6.867 (73.3/131). Playing any combination all the way back, and you get plenty of challenge. Not only do you have to have a little length, but also your course management skills, accuracy and short game will be severely tested.
But with four sets of tees and the new Family Express tees installed in 2011, Hyatt Hill Country Resort is true resort golf.
"Really, it's set up for anybody who wants to play, learning to play or enjoys playing," Champaign said.
Hyatt Hill Country Resort: The verdict
Arthur Hills' courses aren't always the easiest to figure out, but a GPS system on the carts certainly gives golfers the information they need to navigate around this beautiful layout. Even then, golfers should cut themselves a little slack until they play it once or twice, because getting to know where you should and shouldn't hit is paramount to scoring. Sometimes you can hit a driver in the fairway and be blocked out, but generally fairway shots are rewarded.
There are so many pluses to the Hyatt Hill Country Resort golf experience. The courses are always in excellent shape, it really is a commune with nature (wildlife is plentiful) and it's a great test of strategy.
To complete the experience, you'll want to stay at the resort and even save a little money by booking an overnight package. The 200-acre resort is located on the former Rogers-Wiseman Ranch and still has that feel, with old-time windmills and other Western-style buildings and fences that give it a real Texas feel. The resort also has 500 guest rooms -- including 58 suites -- a well as a world-class spa, outstanding restaurants, 33,000 square feet of meeting space and a pool area that includes the Ramblin' River water ride.