The Takeaway: Escondido was better than I was expecting given its relatively moderate rankings in the major magazines. While it will never be mistaken among Fazio's acclaimed Top 100 courses, it sits comfortably in the next tier of his portfolio that offers an engaging design that can be enjoyed round after round after round. Most guests will enjoy some "wow" factor as they experience the impressive facilities and golf course while members will enjoy one of Texas' best kept secrets. Grade B+
Designer: Tom Fazio in 2006
Phone Number: (830) 598-7800
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Escondido Golf and Lake Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 9090 FM 2147, Horseshoe Bay, TX
Accolades: Ranked 21st in Texas on Golf Digest's 2015-16 Best in State list.
What to Expect: Located in the Hill Country 50 miles northwest of Austin, Escondido is an upper end private facility with a southwest Spanish theme and boasting a Tom Fazio layout. Conditioning is elite throughout the layout which is highlighted by the Champion Tiff greens with sub-air systems that maintain an ideal environment for the putting surfaces to thrive. The zoysia fairways help the ball sit up nicely and the bunkers are impeccably maintained. The course is framed by mature oak trees and the gentle rolling terrain provides an enjoyable variety of shots to play throughout the round. The final four holes create the climax of the course with attractive water features and risk/reward opportunities coming into play as golfers are put to their last test. Caddies are available to help assist you around the course and the Smoke Shack near the 10th tee provides some great grilled specialties as well as drinks. Drinks and snacks are available at the comfort station to help combat Texasâ€™ famous heat while the trees provide the shade necessary to enjoy Escondido every day of the year.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 17th Hole – 167 Yard Par 3 – Fazio seems to always come through with a beautiful par three near the end of his courses and he comes through again here at Escondido with this short one-shotter. The small green is wedged between Pecan Creek to the rear, a small tributary across the front, and trees surrounding the setting. The movement in the green will feed approach shots to many of the common pin placements which can setup some great looks at birdie.
Best Par 3: 15th Hole – 252 Yards – What a test! From the back tee this is an intimidating hole that is both beautiful and treacherous. A pond flanks the stone supported left side of this green that angles away from front right to back left. Going at a back left pin is nearly suicidal, even on this big green, especially when tons of room is afforded to the right of the putting surface to bail out to. The hole plays downhill and thus not as long as the yardage though I would encourage players to take enough club to make sure they clear the bunker for a clean second shot; no need to give yourself a fried egg lie here.
Best Par 4: 16th Hole – 430 Yards – No one in the business consistently delivers on designing fantastic closing holes like Tom Fazio, in fact, I'm shocked when I play one of his designs and don't feel that way. The 16th was my favorite hole at Escondido and is not only flat out beautiful but fits the terrain naturally while offering an excellent challenge. This dogleg right is framed by trees on both sides and features a creek in front of the tee boxes. The creek becomes a bigger factor on the second shot where it cuts back across the fairway short of the green and continues to run left of the greenside bunker. If you can draw your irons this is a perfect opportunity to start a ball right of the green and work it back into the green thus eliminating the bunker and water from the equation.
Best Par 5: 18th Hole – 595 Yards – The closing hole plays parallel to Pecan Creek with misses to the left discovery this watery grave. At nearly 600 yards most players will be deducing how to get to this green in three shots which will most safely be accomplished by avoiding the bunkers that are all located on the right side of this hole. The movement in the green is quite tame so getting here in regulation very well could lead to finishing your round with a birdie.
Birdie Time: 8th Hole – 356 Yard Par 4 – The green is out of view but you'll discover it is relatively close after cresting the small rise in the fairway. As long as you avoid the bunkers with your tee shot then you are likely going to be left with a wedge in your hand and a chance to stick your approach close. The green is tricky, as it should be on such a short par four, but the greens roll beautifully and will reward a player that makes the right read.
Bogey Beware: 14th Hole – 494 Yard Par 4 – The 14th takes players to the furthest point of the golf course and begins the long road back home with a brute of a par four. The tee shot plays uphill and needs to avoid the left fairway bunker to have any chance of reaching the green in regulation. If you manage to reach the crest of the fairway with your tee shot you are afforded an impressive view of the surrounding countryside paired with an intimidating look at the green protected by a pot bunker on the right that is encircled by a half moon bunker. Par saves from the sand, particular the small pot bunker, aren't common on this hole so your best miss is short and left. Many players will be best off playing this hole as a par five, accept their bogey, and move on.