SAN ANTONIO, Texas - One of the best things about a metropolitan golf course is that it can offer an escape from the nearby, bustling metropolis.
At The Republic Golf Club in San Antonio, it's hard to believe you're just minutes from the heart of one of America's largest cities.
The golf club opened in 2002, designed by former Keith Foster associate Art Schaupeter. Here, Schaupeter took advantage of the distinctive terrain just 10 minutes southeast of the city.
Said Schaupeter of The Republic:
"The most unique thing about The Republic is its natural environment," he said. "The routing follows Salado Creek as it winds through heavily wooded areas in a broad floodplain. Virtually every hole is completely secluded."
That each hole is lined by mature elm, oak and mesquite trees means you're in for a quiet day on the course - except when your ball is striking timber, which could be often if you're a sprayer. There's a lot of fairway on most holes, but there isn't much rough. Some of the fairways are so wide you may swing a little sloppily on the tee.
While you should be able to find most of your tee shots in short grass, the course's defense is in its sloping, large and very quick greens. They're kept lightning quick in the peak season, so keep your ball below the hole.
The greens also make for difficult chipping, especially if you miss the skinny green on the par-3 17th, which plays 243 yards from the back tees. The front portion of the green is crowned, making chips from either side Pinehurst-worthy.
The par 5s are a highlight. No. 2 is the easiest of the bunch, if you're able to take an aggressive line over the fairway bunker.
The sixth, on the other hand, is tricky, with a ravine cutting off the fairway on the second shot, so you'll have to decide whether to lay-up or go over it. This dog-legging, 624 yarder is a true, three-shot par 5.
The most exciting par 5 is the 15th, which is reachable in two only if you cut off a good portion of the water on the right side. If you do, there's a good amount of run-up space to the green for your fairway wood approach.
Any user-friendly daily fee golf course is going to have a drivable par 4 thrown into the mix, and that comes on the 16th hole. It's 279-336 yards from the back three sets of tees, though golfers must navigate a pond and steep pot bunker fronting the green.
The Republic Golf Club in San Antonio: The cerdict
The Republic is a big hit with the city, voted no. 1 by the Express News Golf Panel in 2006, 2007 and 2009. It is also a qualifying host for the Valero Texas Open.
Course conditions at the time of play on this May afternoon were exceptional, especially if you like firm and fast Bermuda greens. With five sets of tee options up to over 7,000 yards, you can choose your punishment. From the middle-back tees, the course has a 71.6/125 slope/rating.
A driving range and full short game practice area are on site. Large groups will enjoy the banquet hall and conference center, and there is a casual bar and grill in the clubhouse for daily play.
Non-resident rates range from $67-$89 plus tax, and military and resident discounts are available. Like most Texas courses, in the summer you can play in the late morning and afternoon for a discounted rate if you can brave the heat.
Stay and play: The Grand Hyatt in San Antonio
If you want to stay downtown, the new Grand Hyatt hotel is in the center of the action and ideal for those looking for an upscale hotel right on the River Walk. Guest rooms are spacious and feature modern decor and amenities, from exceptional bathroom fixtures to LCD flat screen TVs, while the beds are new and plush.
You can arrange a River Walk tour or dinner cruise at the hotel. On site there are also multiple bar and dining options. If you're staying here and haven't booked tee times, the concierge will help schedule a round at any area course during your stay.