Shorter and less difficult than the Greg Norman-designed Oaks layout at TPC San Antonio, the Canyons course is a Pete Dye design which has hosted the San Antonio Championship on the Champions Tour since 2011.
The Canyons is the companion layout to the Oaks Course which serves as annual host for The Valero Texas Open on the PGA Tour.
The Canyons has had professional events played with the Champions Tour from 2010-2015.
The Canyons is blessed with more rolling terrain than its big brother sibling. This provides the course with enough hole differentiation and a more varied shotmaking requirements.
The opening trio of holes is fairly benign but when you reach the par-3 4th the intensity of the challenge grows significantly. This marvelous hole often features a crosswind from the left. The hole is not especially long at 182 yards but there's a menacing pond that hugs the left side of the green so tightly it's reminiscent of a pre-school boy clutching tightly his mother's apron before departing for his first day of classes.
The green is also well defended by an array of bunkers and the internal green contours accentuate the need for a well-played approach shot.
The remaining holes on the outward side are a good mixture of both long and short and the demands are appropriate without ever being heavy handed. The par-4 9th is well done -- turning left over a slight rise and then downhill. Immediately near to the left side of the fairway is a long bunker which features church pews within the bunkers - similar but with less overall bit than the more noted ones at Oakmont.
Dye has provided a number of closely mown areas just off a number of the putting surfaces for those who get a bit too frisky with their approach shots.
The inward half of holes features two segregated sections. Holes 10 thru 13 occupy the first portion -- with holes 14 thru 18 the remaining ones. The back nine is the stronger of the two sides with holes angled so that better care must be paid when teeing off to secure the optimum play.
The Canyons ends with a tough as nails closer. Playing 482 yards and generally into the prevailing southwest wind can mean an even lengthier hole. The tee shot sets the stage -- but for those intent in attempting the risky play be advised the landing area narrows down to a scant 25 yards across. No less than 14 bunkers -- no misprint -- have a role to play and it's imperative you stay away from them if par is the goal to attain. The putting surface is slightly angled to the right and is elevated. When the pin is cut in the far right corner it takes a supreme effort to get nearby.
As with many Texas courses -- the impact of the daily winds can dramatically alter the playability dimension of the holes.
Overall, Dye has done better with other layouts in his portfolio of courses. The Canyons provides enough versatility for a broader range of handicap levels to enjoy the course. As I said at the outset - the rolling terrain adds to the experience and while the course has its strong moments there's enough on the mundane side holding it back from an ever higher assessment.
M. James Ward
Unfortunately due to overseeding, I was unable to play the Oaks when I visited TPC San Antonio, but playing the Canyon was still very enjoyable in its own right. I loved the Par 3s this course had to offer. The 4th is a mid-to-longer one-shot hole that has a daunting water hazard on the left, and a surplus of bunkers on the right. Great green complex on this hole though that dictates how aggressive or conservative you can be based on the hole location. The 8th is a shorter hole that's only about 150-160 yards. Dye made sure that if you miss the green here, you were gonna pay for it. It's a definite birdie chance for those who are precise with their irons. The 13th and 16th holes are each around the 200 mark and each play downhill, but both have different personalities as the 13th is much more demanding with your placement, whereas the 16th gives you the opportunity to work the ball towards the hole in different ways via the slopes and increased flexibility to cut or draw the tee shot.
My lone criticism of this course was how the Par 4s and 5s had a tendency to run together with very few standing out. Several straight holes that play uphill to some degree, and another several holes with a gentle dogleg either direction that is shaped by its bunkers. To Dye's credit, there is a definite reward on all of those holes if you challenge the hazard. If not, the next shot is made all the more difficult.
While I can tell the Oaks is definitely the superior course on property, the Canyon is a lovely golf course that has some of the starlight stolen from its sister course.