Not many courses can sell their course based on cinematic history alone, but if any can, it might be The Deerwood Course near Houston. Kevin Costner’s character Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy famously spoiled his chances at the U.S. Open by sending multiple balls into the pond while competing in a playoff against his rival, before finally sinking the last haphazard shot and winning glory, if not the tournament. That hole? No. 13 at Deerwood.
The hole is only a par four in real life, but you’ll find a plaque where Roy sank the shot from; feel free to attempt a replication, but please move on after landing your first in the pond. Although Deerwood never hosted any U.S. Open, it did host the Champions Tour Doug Sanders Celebrity Classic for five years, with wins from Lee Trevino and others.
Perhaps the biggest PGA name affiliated with the club, however, was Byron Nelson, who served as a player consultant to Joe Finger during the design of the course.
Deerwood is a Joe Finger design with an assist from Byron Nelson. The first hole is welcoming, a dogleg right with a bunker on the inside elbow. Favor the left side of the fairway to give you a green light to the green that has bunkers left and right. The long par four 2nd is a difficult hole, water left off the tee with a large fairway bunker right that is 200 yards out. Additionally, the water hazard sneaks back in near the green that has a bunker front left and a large one right. The 3rd hole starts with a tee shot out of a gauntlet. A water hazard sneaks in on the left side about 130 yards out and a roller coaster green is protected by four bunkers. The first par three is marketed as an island green, but it is large about 50 yards by 50 yards. After all Australia is an island as well. The first par five has a generous fairway and leans left. Aim at the right fairway bunker off the tee. There is a small cross bunker in the middle of the fairway about 80 yards out. The Mae West green has two tiers, bunkers front left and right and one back. Good birdie oppty. The short 6th is also a birdie oppty, but strategery is required. There is a large cross bunker starting at 165 yards out. Right of it will probably lead to a bogey or worse. Ideal drive is left of the bunker, consider laying up. This green has two bunkers left and two right. The 7th is the shortest par five and is a good risk reward hole. Reachable in two, but there is a water hazard starting about 300 yards out running down the entire left side. If you are not going for it, lay up short of the right bunker complex to set up an attack wedge. The 8th is a Florida par three and the longest one. The 9th is a tough par four, an extreme dogleg left with a large bunker on the inside elbow. A long and straight tee shot will still leave a long approach to a green with large bunkers right and left. Hopefully, for you the pin is not back right.
The back starts with the longest hole. Off the tee aim at the left fairway bunker. Ideal second shot will be between or short of the two fairway bunkers about 150 yards out. Large greenside bunker front left and a deep pot bunker right. The left leaning 11th is a good birdie oppty especially if you can hit a high draw. This will leave you with a short iron to a green that’s only defense is a bunker front right. The par 3 12th has a wraparound water hazard left and two bunkers right. The 13th is the number one handicap hole. A long tight par four that bends left and has a water hazard in front of the green. You may remember it as the fictitious par 5 18th hole in the movie Tin Cup. I am happy to report that I have not deposited as many balls in the water hazard as Kevin Costner. Regardless, a demanding and memorable hole. The 14th comes out of a chute to a generous fairway. Bunker right, two pot bunkers back and a water hazard sneaks in from the left. The 15th is a short, albeit tight off the tee par four. The last par five is reachable in two, tight with water left the hole way. Favor left of center off the tee to give yourself a chance. There is a BAB front right. The last par three is mid-length with water left and two bunkers right. The finishing hole is a long par four dogleg right. Favor left of center off the tee. The green has a large bunker on the left side, one right and one long.
A fun course that I would pay to play again. I encourage all of you to create your own tin Cup moment.