As a kid, I loved two things more than anything, golf and cowboy movies. I’d watch Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Magnificent Seven, The Spaghetti Westerns, and John Wayne. I watched the T.V. shows as well, Bonanza, Maverick, and all the rest.
So, when I had the chance to visit Lajitas and combine some authentic Western history with world-class golf, I jumped at the opportunity.
It’s a long drive to Lajitas Golf Resort, from my home in Lecanto, Florida, 1,599 miles to be exact. Located 237 miles south of Odessa, Texas, 315 miles southeast of El Paso and 439 miles west of San Antonio Lajitas Golf Resort is well worth the drive no matter where you are coming from. I took 90 West and 386 South out of San Antonio, and it was a wonderful scenic drive with long straightaways and gentle curves. Framed by pristine deserts and towering mesas, I put my Corvette through its paces hardly seeing another car while staying alert dodging deer, rabbits, and roadrunners. Getting there was half the fun while taking a left out of the resort heading West on Hwy 170, provided 49 miles of the most scenic drives in America with a road perched high above the Rio Grande snaking through the mountains.
The good news is that if you don’t like driving groups of eight or more, you can take advantage of the resort’s private airport and 30-seater jet with regular charter service out of Dallas Love Field. With additional service from Houston, Midland/Odessa, San Antonio, and Austin by demand.
Everything is Big in Texas
Tucked away in Texas’ historic Big Bend between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park lies Lajitas Resort, the perfect setting for your away-from-it-all western adventure. While the 27,000-acre resort is BIG, the complex itself is small and intimate like an old western town with the golf, spa, pool, rooms, and dining all within walking distance.
Golf at Black Jack’s Crossing is a WOW Factor 10 Golf Experience!
Black Jack’s Crossing is quite simply an amazing course with spectacular views of the mountains, mesas, deserts, Rio Grande River, and Mexico beyond. The course was in excellent condition, and while challenging from the back tees — it’s playable for the average golfer with wide landing areas and large greens. Many courses built on spectacular land force a hole or two to be designed into places they should not be, creating holes that are not quite “golf holes”. Not at Lajitas, there was not a bad hole on the entire layout designed by PGA Tour star, and Texas native, Lanny Wadkins.
Due to the clever use of cart paths despite the massive change in elevation, almost none of the holes go uphill and those that do, do so only gently. On the long holes, you have the advantage of teeing up 50 to 100 feet or more above the fairways. That’s also why the course runs nine miles from the driving range to 18 green, but the views in between holes are not the backs of condos but spectacular views of the Big Bend mountains.
The front nine is relatively benign, particularly the first four holes, No. 5 is a short, picturesque par three that’s all carry up the mountain. The real challenge begins the 438-yard 6th which demands a good tee shot and a long second to a green guarded by a stream on the left and rocks on the right. The 7th at 444 leaves you a three wood in over a cavernous stretch of wasteland or an iron to the bailout area right. The 8th tee sits some 100 plus feet above the fairway, somewhat shortening the 649-yard par five. On the back nine from 11 on the great holes, just come one after the other each hole more spectacular than the next.
An Area Steeped in Western History
You can almost feel Quanah the great Comanche warrior chief looking down on you from the Mesa, rifle in hand wondering what the hell you’re doing beating a little white ball around on his land.
The resort is indeed steeped in old west history, and the course is named after U.S. Army General, “Black Jack” Pershing, who pursued Mexican bandit, Pancho Villa across the Rio Grande. The historic Lajitas Trading Post serves as the Pro Shop and Longhorn Museum and is a remnant from the early Texas Frontier, where cowboys and miners bartered for supplies and drank whiskey. A former U.S. cavalry post is also the site of some of the resorts rooms. It offers 26 rooms individually decorated to reflect various Old West influences – some with four-poster beds, cowhide rugs, and rustic wrought-iron accents. The Badland Hotel offers 15 traditional King and Queen rooms while the offices quarters has one and two bedroomed suites. A wide range of villas and condos are also available to rent suit almost every need and numerous developments are in various stages should you want a permanent getaway.
Tasty Tex-Mex Dining
The Thirsty Goat Saloon and the Candelilla Café serve delightful Mexican food in a casual setting, and both offer patio dining with views of the mountains. I went all into the Mexican theme with huevos rancheros, enchiladas, and fajitas during my stay, all of which tasted wonderful.
Dive Into an Exciting and Unusual Range of Other Sporting Activities
While at most resorts, I am usually satisfied by the golf alone, there were too many other exciting activities that tempt me from the course. There is a fantastic zip line in a near bye canyon offering several different options, including Longhorns, a 1,406 feet line that takes you up to 50 mph on your ride through the desert sky.
A large equestrian center offering sunrise and sunset rides into the desert. Which also caters to riders of all levels with custom itineraries throughout the day. Horse owners can even bring their own horses and stable them at the center.
The shooting range offers skeet shooting, a cowboy experience, and a combat experience, all of which are sure to get your adrenaline pumping. I opted for the cowboy experience where I got to shoot pistols, rifles, and a double-barreled shotgun, which was a blast!
For those looking for more Serena activities, the resort also offers paddleboarding or canoeing down the slow-moving waters of the Rio Grande. Offsite activities include 4-wheel rentals, guided tours down the Rio Grande by jeep or ATV, and mountain biking adventures.
While You Are There
Big Bend National park is a must, and the 1.4 mile, Boquillas Canyon Trail along the Rio Grande river into the canyon provides all the photo opportunities you need. The trail climbs from the parking to the top of a cliff overlooking the Rio Grande. Continue down to the river’s edge and into the canyon until the canyon walls meet the river. There are more than 150 miles of trails with elevations ranging from 1,800 feet along the Rio Grande to 7,832 feet on Emory Peak in the Chisos Mountains.
The nearby ghost town of Terlingua is a quick stop picture op as is visiting with Clay Henry, the beer-swigging Lajitas major who just happens to be a goat.
The best compliment I can give Lajitas is I can’t wait to come back with my buddies!
At a Glance
- 18 amazing golf holes
- Excellent range
- I’ve played over one thousand courses, and I’d put Black Jack’s Crossing in my top ten.
- Spa and fitness center
- Shooting range with multiple options
- Large equestrian center
- Paddleboarding and canoes
- Big Bend National Park
- Scenic roads in and out
- Large and well-appointed R.V. park adjacent
- Real estate available
About Andrew Wood
Andrew Wood is a golf writer, magazine publisher, and CEO of Legendary Marketing a Tampa area ad agency. Author of over 4O books including; The Golf Marketing Bible, The Hotel and Resort Marketing Bible, Fame – How to Build an Iconic Personal Brand and Life Well Lived.
He is considered the world’s leading expert in golf, resort and real estate marketing and has spoken to thousands of audiences worldwide. You can contact him at directly at 352-266-2099 https://legendarymarketing.com/ or [email protected]