Jack Nicklaus Signature layout lets Hill Country beauty be the
By BILL NICHOLS / Courtesy of The Dallas Morning News
Texas has long been ignored for major tournaments, in part because
the courses aren’t perched on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, or in the
shadows of the Rocky Mountains, or on the East Coast.
But everything about Texas’ best new course, Cordillera Ranch, is major: dramatic
elevation changes, stunning Hill Country views and fairways rolling on the
rugged terrain of the Guadalupe River Valley.
On top of Cordillera Ranch, an 8,700-acre gated development 10 miles east
of Boerne (19 miles north of San Antonio), you have a 25-mile view of the Hill
Country. You also can see why this became the fifth Jack Nicklaus signature
course in Texas.
To Nicklaus, the flowing terrain fit so well that it seemed like a course
was already there. He just had to uncover it.
With the soil as his guide, Nicklaus drew 18 holes into the valley’s natural
contours. He hit shots on the dirt to ensure shot values among the native grasses,
streams and 100-year-old live oaks.
“It’s debatable whether people think that Cordillera Ranch is the best
new course in Texas,” said Mike Sheridan, vice president of Cordillera
Ranch Development Company. “But I think most people would say that it’s
not debatable that this is the best site in Texas.”
The finished product is a minimalist’s masterpiece. Most of the bells and
whistles were provided by nature.
The wide zoysia fairways are bordered with Bermuda rough, creating contrasting
shades of green. Native grasses flow in the breeze.
Strategy is important because about half the hazards cut across fairways.
The bentgrass greens are relatively small, which places a premium on accuracy.
No. 5 has a split fairway with trees in the middle, giving players a choice
of attacking the green from either side. The wow factor comes into play on
No. 16, a picturesque par-3 with cascading waterfalls framing the green.
From the back tees, Cordillera Ranch is a beast measuring almost 7,500 yards.
But multiple tees provide a variety of challenges.
“It’s a great combination of holes,” head pro Marc DeWall said. “It’s
pretty penal if you get off the fairways into the native grasses. I think the
holes get better as you go along.”
The Cordillera Ranch development was in place about seven years before the
course. By the time of its May 7 grand opening, the club had 375 members. The
original initiation fee was $35,000. That price has jumped to $60,000, and
only about 55 openings remain, as membership will be capped at 450.
Homes near the course are hardly visible, set back about 75 yards with natural
Residents have wild turkeys and whitetail deer as neighbors. But they also
have plenty to do with an equestrian club, river club, rod and gun club, tennis
and swim club, spa and athletic club, and social club.