George Bush, 41st President of the United States, officially opened the course at Shadow Hawk Golf Club in 1999. A Rees Jones design, with fairways routed around Pecan trees and several lakes, it sits on a 240-acre property near Richmond.
The following edited extract is taken from Daniel Wexler’s The American Private Golf Club Guide:
“Sharing a property with the neighboring Houstonian Hotel & Country Club [now Black Hawk Country Club], Shadow Creek is a typically demanding Rees Jones test whose calling cards are its 1st and 18th holes, the former a 560-yarder which doglegs left around two ponds, the latter a 540-yarder that can be reached with a spectacular carry over a wide expanse of lake.
In between, things are strikingly similar to the Houstonian [Black Hawk], particularly in the amount of water in play and the frequent use of oversized bunkering – though in this case, several holes actually offer fairway hazards placed in strategically meaningful positions.”
Super fun course to play! I was looking at the rating options and was torn between 5 and 4 1/2. It is worth flying in if you are a die-hard, but no question worth an overnight stop. I really liked these holes: 1,5,6,7,12,14,17,18. 18 is one of the best holes I've played. The pace was great; 3 hr 20 mins as a 5 some and only waited on the first tee box because we were starting early and that was only a 5-minute wait. Conditions also very good. It is challenging from the back tee, but not so challenging that it isn't fun if you know what I mean.
The very private Shadow Hawk Golf Club uses the designation "Golf Club" instead of "Country Club" consciously - This is an island of elegance dedicated to golf... No tennis courts, pool, or rotary club meetings.. simply golf the way it was intended.
With less than 300 members, tee times are rarely required, and even when established are generally more indicative than declarative. However whenever one tees off - fast - ready golf is expected. As President Bush regularly played in 3 hours well into his 80s (walking), an able bodied guest or member exceeding 3.5 hours in a cart would be viewed not be welcomed back.
The routing takes advantage of a old Pecan orchard and several natural lakes - all totally isolated from the surrounding world. Quiet and beautiful one forgets you are 15 miles from the 4th largest city in America. The natural terrain includes elevation changes not common in the area. The conditioning is impeccable as you might expect at a top tier private club, with a special emphasis on the speed and condition of the TiffEagle 2 greens - cut and rolled each morning.
On course highlights include:
Hole 3 - the #1 handicap par 4 is listed at 488 yards on the card, but in tournament situations the staff coincidently places the pin back-left at +12 from the center to create a 500 yard beast.
Hole #5 - a great test of "did I choose the correct tee box to play today?" as the elevated tee overlook a lake where the carry from the back tees is 230 yards, and the front tees is closer to 120 yards. If you made the wrong choice on the first tee, the impossible carry reenforces the USGA mantra of "Play it Forward"
Hole #12 - it appears from the tee to be a dog-leg left, but members understand it's another Rees Jones optical illusion, where anything bending "around" the corner results in an impossible angle, if you can find a hole in the tree cover that was invisible from the tee.
Hole #18 is a true Risk - Reward signature par 5 finish. Bringing the natural Fish Lake into each shot, a strong drive and a perfectly struck 210 yard+ second sets up a legitimate eagle chance. Alternately, a conservative drive, creates a tricky second and third, where par is possible, but a misstep brings seven into play - and is much more prevalent on the score card than 3. It also creates fills hours of debate in the 19th hole of how - 1 lone pecan tree at the corner can influence so many shots choices.
Shadow Hawk is a premier golf club - worthy of a rating far exceeding its current ranking on this site. Without question - one of the top 10 in Texas and in the top 3 in the Houston area. However, owning to the private nature of the members and their focus on golf over everything else - they are probably very happy this hidden gem remains off the radar. (But seriously #41 in Texas?? not even close)