Vaaler Creek Golf Club in Blanco is the newest Texas Hill Country hidden gem

BLANCO, Texas -- On just about every shot you hit during a round at Vaaler Creek Golf Club in the Texas Hill Country one needs to step away, recheck the excellent GPS system and ponder a decision and club selection.

This beautiful hidden gem of a golf course is located in the Rockin' J Ranch housing development, just minutes from Blanco, a town of about 2,000 on Highway 281 between San Antonio and Austin.

Summer temperatures are slightly cooler welcoming visitors to the spring-fed Blanco River for a cool swim and for 18 holes you won't forget.

Vaaler Creek is playable and beautiful with superior conditioning, but water, elevation changes, testy greens and perched, stacked rock green fronts with huge guarding bunkers will keep you looking all day for the best approach to enter putting services.

You can even make it a buddy trip with golf for several days because Vaaler Creek has an affordable stay-and-play package with condos right at the 10th tee box.

"Our repeat stay-and-play groups always rave about the convenience of the condos and the friendly, outgoing service," Director of Golf Adam Grosch said. "All the customers rave about the conditions -- we're always in spectacular shape -- and I make it a point to forewarn everyone when we are planning maintenance projects so that people know what to expect. My biggest objective here is to provide a fun, relaxed atmosphere for members, condo groups and daily-fee players."

Vaaler Creek Golf Club's beginning

The golf course was named in honor of Jack Vaaler, a war veteran who served with Rockin' J's owner, Colonel Lee Roper. Jack passed away during the initial construction phase of the golf course.

Vaaler Creek Golf Club opened the back nine in July 2007, and the front nine was opened on July 4, 2009. It was ranked 19th in the country on Golfweek's "Best New Courses" list when opened for play. Designed by Michael Lowry and J.R. Newman, it captured breath-taking vistas of the rolling countryside, live oaks, streams and is a true surprise. Greens have MiniVerde grass, and the rest of the course has Bermuda 419 and Tif Sport grasses. The beauty really stands out with winter overseeding.

The clubhouse at Vaaler Creek Golf Club, a renovated ranch house that dates back to the 1860s, includes a large deck suitable for hosting gatherings and parties. Expert golf instruction is available at Vaaler Creek, and the practice facility includes a two-acre driving range with 20 hitting bays and six target greens.

Vaaler Creek's highlighted holes

Take the flyover tour on the Vaaler Creek Web site, and the first impression is that the course has the opportunity to humble you. But just follow the GPS instructions, and hope for some good kicks or rolls on the tricky greens.

The second hole is a 350-yard par 4 with a sharp dogleg right that requires a solid drive to set up a demanding approach. The green appears oblong and small, and you must carry a stacked-rock front of a pond.

The sixth looks almost blind and tough from the tee, a 415-yard par 4 with a tall tree seemingly in play. But just nail it left-center, and you might get a speed slot kick toward a shorter approach to a raised green with bunkers left and right ready to accept mis-hits.

A split fairway on no. 10 (a 511-yard par 5) forces you to make a decision off the tee box. Go left, the higher side, because it seems to give you more vision for the second shot. The right side looks perilous with more trouble. But it is the second shot that makes you think even more. A pond with high grass juts out into the fairway right on your journey to the green. If you negotiate that you have an elevated green with sharp fall-off right.

Vaaler Creek's finale can really confound you. From the tee, this 405-yard par 4 presents you with a downhill drive that could be perfect with the precise draw. But a huge tree is in the way. Once you get close to the large pond, you have a 100-yard shot (or more) over the water to the green, but you might just have a difficult sidehill or downhill lie.

Vaaler Creek was fun -- humbling at times -- but enjoyable, affordable and convenient with the stay-and-play packages. This is an outstanding getaway from San Antonio and Austin and definitely should be on your must-play list in the Texas Hill Country.

In the spring, you will not only get an exceptional golf experience but a drive complete with the spring bluebonnets and other Texas wildflowers.

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

Related Links

It may be a "hidden gem" to national audiences, but golfers in the Texas Hill Country know Delaware Springs Golf Course quite well. The facility really is the total package, with perhaps its only shortcoming being that it's a little too far from Austin to be a regular play for its residents.
11 Images
More from the author
2 Min Read
December 16, 2016
SunRidge Canyon Golf Club in Fountain Hills has all you search for in a scenic Arizona setting: rugged canyons, and views of Four Peaks and Mazatzal Mountains.
3 Min Read
November 21, 2016
Rees Jones' new Danzante Bay Golf Club in Mexico just celebrated the grand opening of 11 ocean-facing holes that feature a stunning par 3 that's every bit as good as no. 7 at Pebble.
3 Min Read
October 27, 2016
Ballyneal in Holyoke, Colorado is in the process of adding an outstanding, walking-only short course. The 12-hole Mulligan is slated to open next summer.
4 Min Read
July 20, 2016
The scene is 2017 U.S. Open host Erin Hills. Fescue is waving on a wild prairie framed by rolls and dips. Fairways are fast and firm. If you want to play the course this year, do it before Oct. 3.
4 Min Read
June 20, 2016
Sure it was beer that made Milwaukee famous, but it has golf history, and its future seems unlimited. Milwaukee-area golf is a winner. Here's a look at the options.
3 Min Read
April 13, 2016
Set just 10 miles north of the Texas Gulf Coast, The Wilderness in Lake Jackson is such a treat for the senses. Designed by Jeff Brauer, this municipal golf course is one of the best plays in the entire greater-Houston market, David R. Holland writes.
4 Min Read
September 14, 2023
Here's a look at the history of golf handicaps, how they are calculated, and where you can get one.
5 Min Read
September 13, 2023
Puttr, a new technologically-advanced putting mat, could help you make more putts on the golf course.
4 Min Read
September 11, 2023
Which of the 58 golf resorts in the Caribbean do you dream of visiting for your next tropical winter golf getaway?
4 Min Read
August 29, 2023
Golf course architecture is an art form, but rigid notions surrounding the concept of par can hold it back.
Now Reading
Vaaler Creek Golf Club in Blanco is the newest Texas Hill Country hidden gem