Lajitas Golf Re­sort: Black Jack’s Cross­ing

Black Jack’s Cross­ing Golf Course

Golf Vacations - - Contents - by David R. Hol­land

LAJITAS, TX – Dive down­ward is a theme all day at Black Jack’s Cross­ing Golf Course -- that’s what hap­pens to your golf ball when you reach the el­e­vated tee box of par-3, 167-yard 13th. PGA Tour Hall of Famer and de­signer Lanny Wad­kins said the word is “wow”.

L AJITAS, TX– Dive down­ward is a theme all day at Black Jack’s Cross­ing Golf Course – that’s what hap­pens to your golf ball when you reach the el­e­vated tee box of par-3, 167-yard 13th. PGA Tour Hall of Famer and de­signer Lanny Wad­kins said the word is “wow”. Scan a vista that reaches miles past the Rio Grande River into Mex­ico, hit pause, linger and re­call the rich his­tory. And on most days you can reload a few times. The hole is a blast to play for one, and his­tor­i­cally this is a place where Gen. John “Black Jack” Per­sh­ing com­manded a U.S. Cavalry Post when Pan­cho Villa and his rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies threat­ened set­tlers in far West Texas. “Cross­ing” comes from Per­sh­ing chas­ing the ban­dito and his men back across the river. Black Jack never caught Pan­cho. Lajitas, mean­ing “lit­tle flat rocks” is also a place where Co­manches camped out, stag­ing raids into Mex­ico along the Rio Grande River for horses and sil­ver. And it be­came part of the pony path named The Great Co­manche War Trail. And now this vast land is home to Texas’ No. 1 pub­lic golf course (7,413 yards) and Lajitas Re­sort & Spa in the mas­sive Big Bend coun­try of far West Texas. This is also home to the rugged Chi­huahuan Desert, Chisos Moun­tains and Big Bend Na­tional Park. To say Wad­kins de­signed a win­ner is over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tion. This is def­i­nitely a crescendo golf ex­pe­ri­ence. You fin­ish one beau­ti­ful hole and you climb to the next el­e­vated tee. “There’s no golf course like this in Texas and no land like this in Texas with the in­cred­i­ble Big Bend scenery and great golf chal­lenges,” Wad­kins said. Just for grins I picked the back tee of the ex­treme el­e­vated tee par-5 eighth, 649 yards, and at­tempted to bomb one 200 feet down to the fair­way. With dor­mant grass scoot­ing as fast as a stimp me­ter at Au­gusta I hit one as square as I could. Slight draw – I pushed the but­ton on my GPS and headed down­hill. When I rolled up to my ball the screen read 305. Oh, yeah. I love this golf course.

Per­haps the most hand­some hole, how­ever, is the 14th, which dis­plays the Rio Grande River be­yond the green and rolls out 406 yards from yet an­other el­e­vated tee box. For all the beauty, how­ever, the No. 1 hand­i­cap hole will slap you up­side the head. No. 7, a 444-yard, par 4 has an ap­proach over wa­ter that presents it­self like a stair-step­ping stone river bed with col­lec­tion area that con­tin­ues past the hole down into a creek bed cart path head­ing to the next hole. The green is sloped and slanted from front to back to­ward the wa­ter and if you go over the green a dou­ble bo­gey is the norm. When you start driv­ing to the eighth stop and put your hand in the wa­ter – it is a hot spring that was redi­rected to present the wa­ter fea­ture. Wad­kins se­lected pas­palum turf, one de­vel­oped to with­stand sea­side salt and ex­treme con­di­tions. At an el­e­va­tion of 2,200 feet, the tem­per­a­ture is a per­fect 70 most off-sea­son days, but for sum­mer you might have plenty of 100-de­gree days. Don’t worry there’s plenty of wa­ter sta­tions and GPS on the carts. A huge driv­ing range waits for those who like to prac­tice along with putting green and short-game work­ers. No mat­ter what time of year you come here the golf is en­ter­tain­ing and the re­sort ex­pe­ri­ence is like vis­it­ing an­other era. A lit­tle more his­tory of Lajitas Golf Re­sort and olden days The his­tory doesn’t stop with the old trad­ing post pro shop (with bul­let holes in the walls), the next door Longhorn Mu­seum, and it didn’t stop with the old bar­racks turned into lodg­ing, or a beer-drink­ing goat named Clay Henry who was once the honorary town mayor. Eigh­teen-hole golf came here in 2006 when de­sign­ers Roy Bech­tol and Randy Rus­sell of Austin opened The Am­bush at Lajitas. It was a fun lay­out, mainly laid out in the Rio Grande’s flood plain with a nov­elty par-3 hole where you hit over the river in to Mex­ico to a fun­neled hole lo­ca­tion (with no re­trieval of your golf ball). But dis­as­ter stuck in 2008 with a 100-year flood event that de­stroyed the golf course. En­ter Wad­kins and a new his­tory emerged.

Lajitas Golf Re­sort: Away from the golf course

If you are the kind of trav­eler who likes to ven­ture into the boon­docks this is the re­sort for you. There’s 27,000 acres of soli­tude, nat­u­ral beauty, rugged desert and starry skies.

The re­sort of­fers a 5-stand sport­ing clay shoot, cow­boy ac­tion shoot, Eques­trian Cen­ter for fam­ily horse­back rides, zip line, moun­tain bik­ing, river tours, and guided hunt for na­tive Aoudad sheep. For those who want a more re­lax­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, guests can en­joy a mas­sage at the Agave Spa, re­lax by the swim­ming pool, watch a movie at the Flat Rock The­atre, or en­joy the quiet of Big Bend. Din­ing in­cludes the Can­delilla Café , Thirsty Goat Sa­loon, Licha’s Bak­ery and Gen­eral Store Deli for sand­wiches. Can­delilla Café has the most ex­ten­sive of­fer­ings in­clud­ing break­fast, lunch and din­ner with prime cut steaks, chicken, seafood and a se­lec­tion of sig­na­ture side dishes. Choose from creative se­lec­tions such as Queso con Ra­jas, Fa­ji­tas, or a tasty filet. It also of­fers an in­ter­est­ing twist on tra­di­tional Tex-Mex cui­sine.

Old-West Lodg­ing

At Lajitas Golf Re­sort ev­ery room has a dis­tinc­tive charm. To­gether the Cavalry Post, La Cuesta, Bad­lands Ho­tel, Of­fi­cer’s Quar­ters and the Board­walk Con­dos of­fer 101 rooms with in­di­vid­ual charm. Each fea­tures a unique theme and dé­cor de­signed to trans­port vis­i­tors back to the days of the Old West. My Of­fi­cer’s Quar­ters room looked over the golf course. Wed­dings are spe­cial here and com­pany meet­ings are also of­fered for a work­ing get­away. What else? Mav­er­ick Ranch RV Park at Lajitas Golf Re­sort opens you to all the ameni­ties of the re­sort and you can also visit on char­ter flights are also avail­able into Lajitas In­ter­na­tional Air­port. From Dal­las Love Field you can sign up for a get­away that in­cludes two nights, three days with air­fare, dou­ble room ac­com­mo­da­tions and three rounds of golf. They also ser­vice Hous­ton, Mid­land/Odessa, San An­to­nio and Austin by de­mand for groups of eight or more. Whether you have the time to make the drive (it is 588 miles from Dal­las) for a short visit you will not re­gret putting Black Jack’s Cross­ing Golf Course on your bucket list.

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