Robert von Hagge has designed over a dozen courses in Texas, the best of which is probably his early 1970s creation, Walden on Lake Conroe in Montgomery. Later that same decade, he laid out Crown Colony in Lufkin and it too has become a permanent fixture in the Texan “Best in State” rankings.
A number of factors combine to make Crown Colony Country Club a pretty tough track to play. Water is in play at 13 of the holes, fairways are tight, bunkers are intimidating and elevated greens offer only a small target area to aim for. In essence, you must think your way around here, not blast away from the tee with little regard for the next shot.
The 183-yard, par three, 4th is a feature hole on the front nine, played over water all the way to the green, and it follows a long par five that veers left round a lake to a little green by the edge of the water.
Another short-long combination of note arrives at the last two holes on the card. The 17th is not so short though, at just over 200 yards from the back tees and it’s followed by one of the toughest holes in the Lone Star State, a 582-yard, tree-lined monster where the fairway narrows to only 20 yards wide in front of a heavily bunkered green.
Visitors are recommended to take great care on this pair of closing holes as together they can absolutely destroy a hard-earned score made up to that point in the round.
Crown Colony was designed over 40 years ago and at the time was one of the belles of the ball. The first hole is a welcoming par five that leans right. Play it as a three shotter and favor the left side to give you the best angle into the green. The 2nd is a good birdie oppty, a short par four that tilts right. There is a fairway bunker on the left about 125 yards out. A high fade is money off the tee. The third hole is a long par five with water all the way down the left and OB right. Play it as a three shotter as the green is tucked behind the water hazard and slopes left. The 4th is a classic mid-yardage Florida par three. The 5th has water left and OB right with a pretty tight landing area with the left fairway bunker starting about 115 yards out. The elevated green has bunker front left and rear and plays about half a club longer. The 6th also has water left and plays slightly uphill. The sock shaped green has bunkers left, right and rear. The 7th is the shortest hole with a very narrow green. Two bunkers front and one rear. The 8th can be a sneaky left leaning short par four. Favor the right side as there is a creek left, but be wary of the fairway bunker on the right that is about 125 yards out. The 9th is a tight par four, favor the right side to take the left fairway bunkers out of play. The green has a large bunker left and one rear.
The back starts off with the longest par four that bends right. Favor the left off the tee. On your approach best to miss left, the greenside front bunker had me for lunch. The 11th is a good birdie hole. Slight bender right with fairway bunkers on the outside elbow. A high fade will give you a green light to a green that is well protected. The 12th is a mid-range par three with a creek front and left and bunkers right. The 13th is a reachable par five. Favor the right side. The 14th is another Florida par three. The long narrow green is surrounded by five bunkers. The 15th has OB left as well as a couple of fairway bunkers. Thus, favor the right. The 16th is a good risk/reward par five. Short and straight forward, the challenge is the water hazard in front of the green. If you are not in good position or have a marginal lie, play it as a three shotter. The 17th is the longest par three and is another water carry. The 18th is a long fairly straight par five. The left fairway bunkers about 350 yards from the green. Favor the left side on your second shot to take the long right fairway bunker out of play. The narrow green is protected by bunkers left and right.
A good course that has not aged well. A lot of the par fours are very similar design and yardage, and there are also the Florida par threes. A couple of really good holes. I would play it again if you pay.