The Hawk at Rebecca Creek Golf Club's 18-hole course takes golfers meandering across 6,863 yards of pristine fairways peppered with scenic oak trees. Golfers will be put to the test from the outset, as the narrow fairways on the front nine funnel between walls of tall oaks, giving an advantage to players who warmed up their swing at the club's driving range or bribed the course Lorax for favorable treatment. Landing zones expand on the relatively forgiving back nine, which ends in dramatic fashion at the 18th hole, a 360-yard par 4 where both drives and approaches must carry intervening ponds.
After the round, players can retire to the recently redesigned clubhouse and refuel with a nosh of savory grill fare under the flickering glow of high-definition TVs inside the Grill & Pub or while catching a cool breeze at the facility's outdoor cabana seating. The Hawk at Rebecca Creek also boasts an outdoor pool, where guests can zone out to the burbling sounds of a poolside waterfall, look out over a sweeping vista of Texas countryside, or train golf balls to swim their way out of water hazards.
Course at a Glance:
After being ranked 19th on Golfweek's "Best New Courses" list in 2011, the course at Vaaler Creek Golf Club has been stacking up acolytes for its challenging play and picturesque Texas Hill Country setting. The Michael Lowry and JR Newman design stretches through oak forests as well as rocky outcroppings, encountering water on nine holes. Throughout each round, players steer new E-Z-GO golf carts over Bermuda 419 and TifSport grasses, taking advantage of the carts’ automatic braking systems as they stop to smell the flowers or the glorious scent of victory over manual controls.
Though the varied layout presents all manner of challenges, the par 3 12th hole requires a particularly cautious approach. Players must exhibit firm control over iron play as they aim for a peninsula green—discipline that must be then be duplicated four holes later to keep drives dry and on the isthmus fairway. Finally, players round out the round by facing a daunting approach over water, made even more difficult by the tree in the center of the fairway that obstructs flight paths and distracts would-be winners with its self-contained, elf-operated cookie factory.
Course at a Glance:
Tina and Ed Carle, the husband-and-wife team behind this lively cooking school, grew up cooking beside the apron strings of culinary-minded family members. Before heading to New York City to work in five-star kitchens, Tina studied the techniques of her Italian grandmother as she layered lasagna or stirred bolognese sauce. In Texas, Ed developed a knack for prepping wild game, smoked meats, and comfort fare from his family’s butter-centric cookbook. Though he’s become more health conscious through the years, Ed keeps the focus on flavor, demonstrating his know-how in dinner-party-style classes with menus including items such as barbecue brisket or wild venison braised in a dutch oven until it bugles “Taps” and collapses off the bone.
Though their culinary backgrounds differ, Tina and Ed share a passion for top-notch ingredients that elevate dinner to an art. Before teaching lessons on shrimp, for instance, Ed drives to the gulf to pick up a fresh catch. They also share a zeal for cooking tricks and techniques that make dinner simpler and more delicious. To this pair, working over a cutting board or a stove yields a bumper crop of sharable delight.
The crew of PADI-certified divers and master instructors at Canyon Lake Divers love exploring waters all over the world, whether it's plunging into the 8,240 acres of their namesake lake or arranging excursions to go spearfishing the Gulf of Mexico. They like to take people with them on their adventures, too, teaching PADI dive courses to get fellow adventurers trained and certified. On long trips or minor outings, they take care of all the details, from helping their patrons in and out of the water, to transporting and rinsing down tanks and other cumbersome equipment. They sell all the essential gear for any trip out of their brick and mortar location, carrying such brands as Genesis, Akona, and Sherwood.
With jet streams strapped to the feet and the stubborn desire to fly, guests shoot from the surface of the water to hover as high as 37 feet in the air. An expert instructor guides guests through the basic controls of the water board, allowing those with no previous experience to master the intuitive flight machine that can reach speeds of 18.5 miles per hour.
Cranes Mill Marina gives landlubbers the chance to become aquatic adventurers on its fleet of rentable watercrafts. A three-hour eight passenger ski-boat rental lets speed demons tug along delighted adrenaline junkies on the included wake board, kneeboard, tube, or water skis. Slower-moving seafarers can climb aboard a 24-foot-long, party-ready pontoon boat, which has a flat bottom easily used as a dance floor or roller-skating rink. The pontoon boat ferries up to 11 cadets at an ambling, luxurious pace, making it a sturdy hub for swimming excursions, easy-going fishing trips, or an afternoon spent gazing at the lake's natural beauty.