Looking to escape to a golfing hotspot where you can play a unique course every day, but it’s not the only game in town? How about one that’s practical and affordable to boot?

You know the familiar spots: Les Carolines. Florida. Wisconsin and Michigan all come to mind.

If you’re looking for a destination with easy access, inclusive golf on three incredible courses plus water sports, pool, beach, hiking, endless dining options, spa and much more so, head to the hills: the hill and lake region of Texas where, just outside of Austin, you’ll find Horseshoe Bay Resort (https://www.hsbresort.com).

Horseshoe Bay Resort, nestled in the striking hilly landscape about an hour from Austin and nestled against Lake LBJ (named, of course, by the area’s most famous American) is the family owners’ life mission. for over 50 years. The Hurd cousins ​​first looked at the vast ranches of this hilly, scrubby land and saw paradise.

They built courtyards, imported palm trees and other tropical plants and began to build their dream. In 1995, the Jaffe family took over and is still going strong, pumping out over $100 million in upgrades in recent years, with more to come.

The result – still ongoing (look for a massive new state-of-the-art golf center to usher in early winter 2023), is a delightful surprise.

I went there mid October. A beginner in golf (I was a hack for years. Six months ago I decided to get serious and have been taking lessons and working on improving ever since) this would be one of my first real golf trips.

I arrived at noon – an easy direct flight on JetBlue (Boston to Austin) and a shuttle set up by the resort barely got me tired. From my room on the fifth floor of The Tower (formerly a Marriott, now operated by the resort itself), I could see a fantastic pool, the many hills, and Lake LBJ itself.

I took the time to enjoy this pool that afternoon, enjoying the warm autumn sun.

The next morning the golf started. I chose to play at three of the club’s courses, starting with Apple Rock, the recently upgraded Robert Trent Jones Sr. course, originally opened in 1985. Jones’ plan was to use the height and the landscape of the course for both the challenge and the wow factor. That works.

Some holes weave their way to Lake LBJ; many require challenging, but thrilling uphill and downhill rides.

On day two, I headed to Slick Rock, Horseshoe Bay’s oldest course – but don’t let that give you pause: it underwent a massive overhaul in 2016, including upgrades to what is now called the “Million Dollar Hole”, where you leave. above a massive and breathtaking waterfall. It’s named after its landscape (and redesign price), but this new golfer can point out that when my drive hit the lush green fairway in front of the waterfall, I felt like they named it for me.

Slick Rock is a more traditional course and plays with a bit more forgiveness. I was paired with three very good male players and with well-placed tee boxes I held on and never held the group back. I would come back in a heartbeat to play another 18.

There’s also Ram Rock, affectionately nicknamed “The Challenger” by regulars. It features narrow fairways, dramatic elevation challenges (like the other courses) and, for the wow factor, their fourth island green hole. This is an excellent test for the advanced golfer.

I also lucked out and scored a round at Resort Members-Only Summit Rock, a Jack Nicklaus-designed private course that combines natural landscape, lush fairways, tropical flora, natural slate and granite, and spectacular views. . Although not open to the public, word is that if you’re interested in future membership, you might score a spin.

It wasn’t just golf. The dinner was amazing, from the famous fried lobster tail at the Yacht Club, to the forward themed dinner at the new Cape Rock Clubhouse, to the fun sports themed finger foods at the Whitewater 360 Sports Club next to the tower, where you can sip your cocktails while playing their real 18-hole par 72 grass course.

There’s a kids club and spa (they plan to upgrade the spa in the coming year), tennis and pickle ball (they hosted the national pickle ball championships last spring), and many places to sit and take in the beauty.

As I was flying home on my flight home, I texted my kids. “Think I just found our next family vacation spot,” I wrote.

A beautiful waterfall is an integral part of Horseshoe Bay Resort’s “Million Dollar Hole”. (Photo by Moira McCarthy)
Golf isn't the only game in town at Horsehoe Bay Resort in Texas.  The beautiful swimming pool invites swimmers and deckchairs.  (Photo by Moira McCarthy)
Golf isn’t the only game in town at Horsehoe Bay Resort in Texas. The beautiful swimming pool invites swimmers and deckchairs. (Photo by Moira McCarthy)
The golf courses at Horseshoe Bay Resort in Texas welcome beginners to the sport as well as accomplished players.  (Photo by Moira McCarthy)
The golf courses at Horseshoe Bay Resort in Texas welcome beginners to the sport as well as accomplished players. (Photo by Moira McCarthy)