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March 18, 2024

Horseshoe Bay Resort: A lot of golf and more

By Gregg Dewalt, Alabama Golf News Editor
Lick Rock at Horseshoe Bay

Three RTJ Sr. golf courses to choose from

HORSESHOE BAY, TEXAS – Let’s face it, finding the perfect golf experience for a family or buddies’ trip can be a daunting task.

Where to go? How far in advance do you need to book it? Will there be something to do for everyone in the group?

While true there is no shortage these days of outstanding golf destinations from which to choose, many bucket-list golf trips need to be planned and booked more than a year out. Yes, the current golf landscape is that crowded.

Fortunately, there still are plenty of golf experiences to be enjoyed that are accessible and available for even last-minute getaways.

Count Horseshoe Bay Resort among the latter. Set in the Texas Hill Country just northwest of Austin, Horseshoe Bay offers a little bit of everything – from three outstanding Robert Trent Jones Sr. golf courses to three resort pools, two beaches on Lake LBJ, a spa and salon, and an 18-hole Bermuda grass putting green. Dining options are also plentiful.

In short, it has everything a person could want from a family or friends atmosphere pespective.

The history of the resort dates to the late 1960s when Norman and Wayne Hurd had a vision to develop the property known as the Lupton Ranch.

“I immediately saw the potential for the development of a resort,” Wayne Hurd said. “The Lupton Ranch was in a great location. I told Norman I would join him in trying to purchase and develop it. We agreed that our goal would be the creation of something Texas did not have at that time – a top-quality resort.”

The resort opened in 1971 and has continued to grow. In 1995, the Jaffe family took controlling interest in the resort and has continued to add to its amenities, making it a highly-desirable destination.

The golf at Horseshoe Bay

Although Horseshoe Bay’s many amenities are enticing, it’s the golf that truly stands out, especially if you are a fan of Robert Trent Jones Sr. designs. Slick Rock was the first course to open on the property in 1972. It was followed by Ram Rock in 1981 and Apple Rock in 1985. Summit Rock, a Jack Nicklaus design, opened in 2012 and is for members only.

Although it’s the oldest course at Horseshoe Bay, Slick Rock features the memorable “Million Dollar Hole”, a shortish par 4 in which players tee off over a picturesque 35-yard waterfall.

Although not really in play, the waterfall provides a stunning backdrop for one of the most photographed holes in Texas. The most traditional course at Horseshoe Bay, Slick Rock was renovated by Robert Trent Jones Jr. in 2016. The routing takes players through granite outcroppings, pampas grass, and oak and Eldarica pine trees over 170 acres. From the tips, Slick Rock only measures 6,867 yards features 75 bunkers and 12 water hazards.

Ram Rock, the second-oldest course at Horseshoe Bay, opened in 1981, embodies the Robert Trent Jones Sr. design philosophy of hard par, easy bogey. With 62 bunkers, water in play on 10 holes and natural dry creeks along its edges, Ram Rock might only play 6,884 yards from the tips but has a 75.2 rating and a slope of 139. As a testament to its challenge, Ram Rock has hosted the Texas State Open and several USGA and professional events.

Ram Rock is also known for its elevated tee boxes that provide awesome views of the surrounding landscape. It is also known for its challenging greens complexes. The fourth hole is a 186-yard par 3 with an island green that, along with the “Million Dollar Hole” provides an outstanding opportunity for a selfie.

Apple Rock, the third Robert Trent Jones Sr. course on the property will turn 40 years old in 2025. At 6,999 yards, Apple Rock’s opening holes are set in high, rocky terrain and finish along Lake LBJ. It has 50 bunkers, and water comes into play on seven holes. It’s another of the trio that has hosted the Texas State Open and numerous other high-profile events. Apple Rock carries a 74.6 rating and 140 slope from the back tees.

All three of the courses are rated among the Top 100 overall courses in Texas and in the Top 50 courses you can play in Texas.

You will need to find a Horseshoe Bay member to play the resort’s fourth course – Summit Rock, an outstanding Nicklaus design. However, it is worth it. Nicklaus said each hole on the course could be considered a “signature hole.” The elevated tee box on the third hole offers a scenic 30-mile view of the surrounding hill country. The greens complexes are undulating and challenging.

Other things to do

There’s plenty to do after the final putt of the day is holed at Horseshoe Bay. Well, let’s make that almost finished because adjacent to the Whitewater 360 Sports Club sits the Whitewater Putting Course – one of only four real Bermuda grass putting courses in North America, according to resort officials. The putting course is 18 holes and plays to a par 72 and features waterfalls, rose gardens, exotic birds and a trail. It’s a perfect spot to settle bets after playing Apple Rock, Slick Rock or Ram Rock.

There are 14 tennis courts – eight hard-court and six clay courts – to choose from, along with eight pickleball courts. There are numerous shops and pavilions, along with the Jungle Kids Club. Bayside Spa offers a serene setting to recuperate after golf.

There’s also plenty of water sports offerings on Lake LBJ.

If golf or the other outdoor amenities don’t provide enough excitement, the Bronco Off Roadeo Experience surely will. In fact, in addition to being a little nerve-wracking, it’s downright exhilarating as you go off-roading through a maze of rocks, ravines, hills across a purpose-built off-road course. Oh, and you get to drive a new Bronco during the experience.

Dining and lodging at Horseshoe Bay Resort

There are seven restaurants to choose from at Horseshoe Bay, starting with the upscale Yacht Club overlooking Lake LBJ where the offerings range from steaks to chicken fried lobster to porcini veal chop marsala. J’s Restaurant and Bar features Texas barbecue, while Cap Rock Cabana and Grill serves the Apple Rock and Cap Rock golf courses with traditional golf course menu items, while Slick Rock Bar and Grill does the same at that course.

In addition to the Tower, a 249-room hotel, Horseshoe Bay offers accommodations at the Waters Condos, Palm villas and private home rentals.

Instruction facility coming

Construction is underway on a new state-of-the-art teaching academy with plans to open this fall.

An artist's rendering of a 3,000-suare-foot training facility that will open this fall (Photo: Horseshoe Bay Resort)
An artist’s rendering of a 3,000-suare-foot training facility expected to open this fall (Photo: Horseshoe Bay Resort)

The area for both members and resort guests features two indoor bays with Trackman and Toptracer technology, club-fitting services, a club repair room (fondly labeled the Dirty Room) and a demonstration area with shafts, grips and clubheads from top manufacturers like Titleist, TaylorMade and Callaway.

The elevated teaching experience doesn’t end there. Once players are finished with lessons they can go outside to one of eight nearby covered bays that all feature the same Toptracer technology used during their respective teaching sessions. Each player will have the ability to see real-time data for each swing.

Packages for individuals, couples, juniors, academies and clinics will be offered.

The new teaching facility will be located on the back of the practice range that services Apple Rock and Ram Rock. Including the new building, eight covered practice bays, the putting green, chipping area, practice bunker and practice range, the Horseshoe Bay Resort Golf Academy will total 80,000 square feet of practice space. 

For information about Horseshoe Bay Resort, go to

Gregg Dewalt is the editor of Alabama Golf News

Have a story idea or a news item to report to Alabama Golf News? Email

Featured image courtesy of the Horseshoe Bay Resort

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