Texas (TX) 77979,
- +1 361 893 5116
10 miles NE of Point Comfort
Members and their guests only
Wolf Point Ranch lies around ten miles inland from the small port town of Point Comfort, on the eastern shores of Lavaca Bay, where a large petrochemical plant dominates the skyline. In this rather industrial environment, it’s hard to imagine that a natural, largely lie of the land golf course exists less than a 15-minute drive away.
Houston-based Mike Nuzzo designed the 18-hole layout for Al Stanger a local rancher in 2007, setting out the fairways within a massive 1,300-acre property that enjoys only a couple of metres of elevation change across the entire site. Live oak trees and Keller Creek are integral parts of the routing, with the wandering water course having an effect on eight of the holes.
To add variety to a somewhat featureless landscape, sixty bunkers of various shapes and sizes were added, with almost half of these sand hazards positioned as fairway traps. Half the greens have no sand protection within ten metres of the putting surface and three other greens are completely devoid of bunkers.
The entire project cost around $3 million, with a third of that sum spent on irrigation. Long grass wasn’t used to penalize players as the design brief was to construct a golf course for the client that would be varied, interesting and challenging for him playing there every day.
The owner supplied his own heavy equipment crews and scrapers were hired to excavate a 14-acre lake, using the fill to create the small hill that the clubhouse now sits on. A bridge contractor was brought in to take care of several creek crossing points and a shaper worked for six months to create contours and tie the fairways into their surroundings.
Green sites are built from native sands, requiring minimal sub-surface drainage, with a specialized dwarf Bermuda grass chosen for putting surfaces which Tom Doak has called “the best set of greens in Texas”. Small tees are sited close to the preceding green and (no doubt delighting purists) there are no cart paths to be found on this easy walking layout.
Wolf Point’s owner, Al Stanger, sadly died in July 2016 due to injuries sustained following a fall. Since the accident, course maintenance has been cut back and the 475-acre property (as at January 2018) is on the market for $7,700,000, which on balance seems to be a small price to pay for a golf course dubbed the “St. Andrews of Texas” and only one of eighteen courses featured in Tom Doak’s “Gourmet’s Choice” in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses Volume 2.
In an isolated region of Texas southwest of Houston there is a private ranch named Wolf Point. The now deceased owner charted a private golf course which traverses across mostly flat land. This is not a golf club and won’t resemble anything you’ve seen before. Only a handful of golfers experience this course each year by prior agreement of the land owners.
To say you need to expand your mind to play here is an understatement. Most of the entire course is wide open with no features, just random flags in the flat horizon. You can hit to any target and tee off from wherever you like. There are no official tee boxes, just random platforms which you can hit from. It felt like I was hitting balls on a piece of land before the developer and architect had arrived to build the actual course.
The green-keeping is very basic and the routing not intuitive – but it does make sense the more you play it. You’ll certainly need a tour guide otherwise the course is non-descript. There are no signs, no tees – just flat land with gentle ripples. The greens have impressive undulation, and the back side has more trees to emphasize structure to the course. The trees also help frame a number of the greens so there is a sense of distance.
Why does this course exist? And what will its future be? Maybe only the camels that graze next to the fairways have the answers.