I don’t care how much money someone has, what race, sex or religion they are, none of that stuff. All I want are people who have invested a lot of hours in the game. I believe in diversity. I don’t lock the gates. I want all kinds of people from all walks of life, with one thing in common: a sincere appreciation for golf and what it should be. — Jackie Burke Jr., in Golf Digest, May 2004
The quote from Mr. Burke, hopefully, has done a bit of a job in introducing this website. As far as an introduction for the author of this page, I’m probably not much different from most of the readers. It’s not been often that golf has been far from my life, starting at least right around the time I picked up the game and joined my high school team. And now, more than 30 years later, my involvement in the sport has come to this: I’m back to writing about golf, and this time I’m not even getting paid for it.
Other than the fact that my last “book deal” got me to swallow the idea of such a pay scale, maybe the writing that’s provided here will help us all to find a community, or that something defined as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.
Is this a worthwhile cause; does San Antonio and South Texas have a golf community that’s vibrant, productive and noteworthy?
Well, in this day and age all a person has to do is click over to the Google search bar and type “top golf cities in America.” There are plenty of results. Since at least 2005, some of the major golf publications have felt the topic was important enough to conduct extensive research for feature stories and rankings.
And in these rankings, San Antonio ranks … ? Not that high.
You can look at these rankings yourself. There’s one from Golf Digest that appears to be the most recent from October 2011. Dallas-Fort Worth was ranked first, San Antonio at No. 30 and ahead of places like Miami, Las Vegas and Austin but immediately behind Buffalo. It’s better in a 2007 list from Golf, when San Antonio was ranked 12th, Austin first, DFW fourth and Houston was 27th.
There are rankings out there that can be found at websites with titles ranging from Links Magazine, Bleacher Report and livability.com. But the reasoning behind their rankings for the best golf cities is so feeble it’s best to stick with those from Golf and Golf Digest because they seem to have a process that attempted to inject as much objectivity into the process as possible. Those publications contracted with outside agencies to consider a number of factors. Essentially, Golf Magazine boiled it down best when it wrote “at day’s end, we decided America’s best golf cities should be first and foremost about quality courses you can play, and afford to play, in reasonable weather.”
But can something like this be nailed down, no matter how much care is put into objectivity? There’s a reminder in that regard that can be found in David Owen’s 1995 book My Usual Game, when Owen set out to play some of the top-ranked courses in America. “People will argue forever about the order of the ranking,” Owen wrote, “or about the very idea of ranking.”
With that being said, it’s clear that San Antonio’s golf should be rated highly when considering quality courses that are affordable to play in reasonable, if not great, weather. So if San Antonio is not rated that highly as a golf community by someone else, I’m not buying it. And perhaps having someone come along now to step in and write about the things that go beyond that — the history, the feel, the community — will lift San Antonio and South Texas to even higher perception.
But this site will be more analyst than cheerleader. There are things about the community that can be embraced, and things that could be better.
What’s good? Accessible golf courses with a backbone of layouts in the municipal sector that, by anyone’s eye, are in much better shape than they were five years ago and are much more proactive in engaging players; a sense of history with a renewed focus on the Texas Golf Hall of Fame near downtown San Antonio; junior golf programs, particularly The First Tee, where thousands of future golfers are either being introduced to the game or being reinforced to it; collegiate programs that further raise the profile of golf in this region; a collection of privately-owned properties and resorts that give good account of the quality of life available here, and first-hand access to the highest level of golf when PGA Tour events stops here.
And what can be improved? To start, that properties such as Pecan Valley, Woodlake and Golf Club of Texas can be brought back to operation not only to increase the local playing field but to reinvigorate San Antonio’s historical place in the game.
It can best be done by following the words from Jackie Burke, that the reporting include people from all walks of life, with a sincere appreciation for golf and what it should be.
— Tim Price, January 2014