There's a new golf course in Texas. In Laredo, to be exact: The Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course. It celebrated its "soft opening" on Oct. 18.
This isn't just good news for Laredo, but for the golf course industry in general. There just aren't many courses getting built in the United States right now, and there haven't been for the past five years. The business is so slow that When Laredo put out a request for proposals to golf course architecture firms, the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, Pete Dye, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Michael Hurdzan, D.A. Weibring, Hale Irwin, David McLay Kidd, Lanny Wadkins and Peter Jacobsen put in bids.
The Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course has only been open a few days as this is written, but everyone in Laredo already knows it simply as "the Max."
The golf course website includes the following among its descriptive prose:
"Breathtakingly overlooking the Rio Grande River just north of Laredo ... The golf course is strategically situated on 270 acres of atypical South Texas Mesquite land. The site has almost a mile of Rio Grande River frontage with the clubhouse and Holes 8, 9, 15 and 16 playing directly alongside and overlooking the river. It is a par 72 golf course that has an excellent balance of drama, playability, risk and reward that will make for exciting and enjoyable golf for all levels of player."
An article on cybergolf.com adds: "It also traverses deep arroyos and navigates through 30-foot-tall mesquite woodlands and open farmland."
One of the interesting things that RTJII did in his design of The Max was the creation of three loops over the back nine: "... the closing nine present(s) returning loops of three holes and six holes flanking the practice facility." So if you don't have time for 18 - or even nine - you can just play three holes or six holes, or play the back nine. A beginning golfer, or a child just starting out, can learn on the 3-hole loop.
That's a great, family-friendly, beginner-friendly touch. There are also five sets of tees, and wide fairways.
And it looks great in the photos, doesn't it? Next time you make a run for the border, take your sticks and include a stop at The Max.
And if you've played Laredo's Max A. Mandel Municipal, leave your course rating and comments below.