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ESCONDIDO GOLF & LAKE CLUB

Escondido evokes the warmth and welcome of the Tuscan countryside invigorated with a little Texas maverick spirit.

HORSESHOE BAY, TEXAS (45 minutes outside Austin): The impact of Lady Bird Johnson on Texas, and for that matter all of America, was profound. During her husband’s presidency (from 1963–1969) her efforts to pass the Highway Beautification Act resulted in establishing the cherry trees on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and countless wildflower beds across the country.


“The environment is where we all meet, where we have a mutual interest; it’s the one thing all of us share. It’s not only a mirror of ourselves, but a focusing lens on what we can become,” stated Lady Bird Johnson. Native to Texas, the Hill Country has been a big beneficiary of Johnson’s passion for nature.


TUSCANY MEETS TEXAS


Escondido Golf & Lake Club is where the Old World flavor of Tuscany, Italy is reborn in a pastoral setting on the shores of Lake LBJ in the Texas Hill Country. Amenities include a Tom Fazio design (ranked a “Top-5” course in the state by The Dallas Morning News), handsome clubhouse with a broad stoned veranda, and lake club with private pool cabanas and docks to moor member boats. Now under construction is a 20-slip dry dock where Escondido valets can have your boat in the water within an hour to enjoy 21 miles of shoreline on one of the few constant water level lakes in the state.


“My wife Janel and I were living 450 miles to the north in Amarillo, Texas,” explained Brady Meyer, member at Escondido. “I have my private pilot license and with the nearby FBO, we can make the trip in a little over an hour. After our first visit, we decided to become members and recently made Escondido our primary home. The combination of no tee times required and private lake access was a ‘game changer.’ Living in a COVID world just validated that much more in my mind we made the correct decision.”


 “The abundant blue bonnet and Indian paint brush wildflowers sold me,” said Janel Meyer. “Each morning, I walk the back nine with my boxer Jiggers to start the day. It gives me the same rush as that first sip of coffee. Watching the agronomy crew ‘work their magic’ has taught me that our superb course conditioning isn’t by happenstance. As the current reigning club champion, I commend Escondido’s maintenance team for a job well done.”


FAZIO'S PERSPECTIVE


“Escondido is a one-of-a-kind special place,” lauded Tom Fazio. “When we held the grand opening, there was no reason to hype my design. It’s that good. The Club is a quality golf community with outstanding amenities and an extremely playable design. It elevates the golf experience in the Hill Country, for that matter, all of Texas.


“The state’s rocky soil makes it difficult for trees to ‘grow to the sky.’ As a designer, this creates a challenge on how to best frame fairways. The combination of topography and an outstanding land plan, from day one, allowed me to create a course I’m proud of. No corners were cut to deliver the best.


“I have developed a reputation as a designer of playable courses,” continued Fazio. “Escondido is no exception. I look at the shot value through the eyes of a typical private club member, not a PGA TOUR professional. Most shots don’t end up next to the hole or down the middle of the fairway. I imagine where most will miss, then I allow for extra room to keep the ball in play. Subtle variations in design make the difference between a lost ball and a double bogey or an impressive chip and one putt for par.


“Texans love Texas. With Escondido as an option for a quality private club environment, there is no need for those in the Lone Star State to look elsewhere.”


STRONGEST OF THE STRONG


Now member owned and operated, Escondido’s member-ship roster is at a high water mark. “Our success is attributed to our proximity to Austin, secure location, temperate climate that allows for virtually year round golf, great practice facilities, family-friendly amenities, and staff,” advised JJ Wagner, COO/GM at Escondido. “When the developer turned our community over to homeowners, the cash box was nearly empty. I’m proud to report we now have one million dollars in reserves. 


 “That’s not to say we are immune to the news of the outside world. Worry has been in the air with our employees, so we instituted a ‘holding your hands’ policy to ensure they understand if you support us, we will be there for you to talk to,” continued Wagner. “Probably our smartest financial move was to trim our operating hours by opening a little later and closing a bit earlier allowing us to maintain expected service standards and reduce expenses. The upshot? Our real estate sales have been strong. Word is out that Escondido is the place to be in uncertain times.”


FOUR TYPES OF GRASS


Escondido’s golf course is classic Fazio. Cart paths are hidden from view, three different grasses surround greens, and bunkers are maintained in various conditions.


“Our bunkering is distinctive,” described Rodney Lingle, Escondido’s director of agronomy. “Many sand traps have bull-nosed faces wherein the grass is literally growing vertically. When late-day sunlight dances across the hazards, it’s easy to be distracted. Fairway bunker sand is firmer and raked with shorter tines, allowing you to get the ball in the air. Greenside bunkers are maintained with fluffier sand and raked with longer tines to help prevent you from blading the ball. 


“Most courses are judged by the conditioning of greens. This is where we shine,” smiled Lingle. “We utilized Champion Bermuda for our putting surfaces, Trinity Zoysia for the collars, Zeon Zoysia for the first cut, and finally, JaMur Zoysia in the rough. To some, this may seem excessive, but I promise that you will notice the difference.


“The book Good to Great by Jim Collins made a lasting impression on me. The message Collins detailed is greatness is not a function of circumstance, but largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline,” continued Lingle. “In some ways, good is the mortal enemy of great. We can’t be complacent and settle for good. There are a lot of good private clubs across the country, but few that meet the standard of great. 


 “It’s important to stay the course. Never think short term to produce quality. I compare running agronomy operations at a top private club similar to training for the Olympics. You can’t exercise and be fit in a week. It is a long measured path to produce greatness.” 


 The Gauntlet is one of Escondido’s signature events among a full schedule of competitive and social tournaments. “We ‘bump up’ our greens to 14 on the Stimpmeter for the putting only competition,” smiled Lingle. “Conditions are so slick, I compare it to trying to putt a ball from the top of a marble staircase and have it stop at the bottom. Unbelievably, the average score on several holes is nine—and remember the competition starts on the green with only your putter in hand!” 


PREPARING FOR THE NEXT GENERATION


“One of the industry professionals I most admire is Bob Ford at Seminole Golf Club in Florida,” revealed Penn Saad, director of golf at Escondido. “He made it a priority to teach and educate up-and-coming assistant professionals aspects of the game. At Escondido, we have the same philosophy to nurture the next generation.


“Escondido has a culture and environment that is not only unique and powerful, but also a perfect blend that makes every person who drives through our gates feel at home. There are lots of great golf courses, facilities, and amenities around the world, and while Escondido has the best of those categories as well, it is the membership and the staff at Escondido that really set us apart.”


GETTING IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME


Rick and Mary Graves toured many of the best private clubs across the country before choosing Escondido. “I have lived in 38 different states,” said Rick Graves. “When comparing the competition we kept coming back and saying ‘this isn’t Escondido.’ Living here has satisfied our two mandates to be on or near a lake and quality golf course. Escondido checks both boxes. Instead of four hours on the course and then at home the rest of the day, Escondido provides things to do from first light to bedtime.”


 “Social activities were an added component in the decision for me,” expressed Mary Graves. “There’s something special about the makeup of our membership. During my annual Halloween party last year, we had 70 members show up in costume. One of our neighbors dressed as Little Red Riding Hood [the husband] and the Big Bad Wolf [the wife]. Even our musician joined the fun dressed in a pink bunny suit.


 “While Rick has lived all over the country, I’m a native Texan. I like to say, I ‘got it right the first time.’” 

 For more information, please visit EscondidoTexas.com.

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