The oldest public 18-hole layout in Texas, Brackenridge Park Golf Course in San Antonio has hosted twenty-one editions of the Texas Open from 1922 to 1959. None other than A. W. Tillinghast designed “Old Brack” in 1916.
Writing in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses , Tom Doak commented as follows: “Tillie’s classic west Texas muni was recently restored by designer John Collingan, who did a very good job of retaining the character of the old course. The front nine is pretty tight and a bit too much of a back-and-forth shooting gallery, but the back nine spreads out and features a number of very strong holes.”
The history of the property is a major story line when playing the Tillinghast layout. Numerous early on Texas Opens were played here and the course is an early statement on the future stellar layouts Tillie would later create.
The course features a fairly compact outward side but one thing is noticeable -- a number of the putting greens are slightly elevated from the fairway and appropriately angled so that approach shots must be handled with great care.
The inward half runs in a perpendicular fashion to the outward side so that the variation in wind direction can play a clear role at times.
There's little elevation change and the overall yardage -- just over 6,200 yards -- is quite short. Nonetheless, it pays to keep one's ball in play as pesky nearby trees -- especially on the outward nine -- always seem to weigh in on the hapless player. The course has five par-3 holes -- and the 8th, 10th and 18th are all good holes -- with the Redan-like 8th leading the way.
As Colin mentioned the Tudor clubhouse sports a regal quality and the celebration of all things associated with golf in The Lone Star State is quite rightly celebrated.
Given the layout's close proximity to the downtown area it's a layout worthy checking out for those in the immediate core area of San Antonio. Tillinghast's contribution is evident and for true golf connoisseurs the mixture of a rich past in tandem with an entertaining layout is certainly present.
M. James Ward
Brackenridge Park is an inner city jewel. George Brackenridge donated 100-plus acres of land to San Antonio to create a park. It is a Tillinghast design and has a wonderful Tudor clubhouse that hosts the Texas Golf Hall of Fame. The original design was castrated in 1968 with highway construction. The back nine had several holes shortened, water hazards were added and the river diverted. In 2008 The Brack went through another redesign and was lengthened to 6243 yards with a par 0f 71
To the course, the second hole is a beast of a par three, 200+ yards over a gaping bunker protecting 90% of the green. Number 3 is a par 5 with a plethora of bunkers. One in the landing area right and 3 staggered left. There is also a redan fairway bunker at 150 yards out. The green is well protected with additional bunkers. Originally, I thought there were 7, but when I skulled my greenside bunker shot over the green, I found 2 more. A total of 9 bunkers! Number three, a 370 yard par four, on your approach it appears that there’s a big ass deep bunker green side however it’s an allusion is at least 20 yards in front of the green. Eight is a classic par three redan green with three gaping bunkers staggered on the right.
Number 10 is a fantastic par three. Aesthetically pleasing, over water, bunker left, nice stone bridge,180 yards. As mentioned earlier due to highway construction, 11-13 are pretty pedestrian. The 14th is a mcgilla, 446 with a carry over a creek. Dogleg left try to carry the trees on the corner. Godspeed.
The 15th is a cute little par three, probably plays a club less than you think. To me 16 is a killer par 4 only 316 yards tough dogleg left. You can carry the creek but you really got to crunch it and you want to be left. Best play is to hit a 180-200 yard tee shot and favor the left side. The 17th is short driveable par 4, but there is a creek in front as well as a bunker. Probably best to lay up. The 18th is a 175 yard par 3 over water. Interestingly, I do not recall a course where the 10th and 18th were par threes. A common element of Tillinghast designs are the rectangular greens. Fantastic throwback course with views of the San Antonio skyline. Great value and a lot of fun. I highly recommend The Brack!