Culled from the noggin of course-crafter John Sanford, the Dogwood course at Garden Valley merges Champion bermuda greens with Lake Butler's lapping shores to forge an unforgettable 6,840 yards of play. Towering pine trees blanket golf carts in shadows, cooling players as they ponder the best methods to evade the course's many water hazards and rolling hills, where distracted golfers often sacrifice games, stopping to paint the picturesque East Texas landscape.
Guests may also admire the scenery from the onsite restaurant, which serves house-made omelets and crisp salads. The eatery resides below the clubhouse’s vaulted ceilings, in addition to a fully equipped pro shop and an outdoor terrace overlooking the 18th green. Across the street lies the Garden Valley Sports Complex, a 24-hour facility filled with fitness machines and free weights that help patrons to burn fat beside an indoor basketball court and a refreshing pool relatively free of feral manatees.
Surrounded by swaying trees and fresh air, the five ziplines of Zip Nac’s adrenaline-pumping course speed gliders through 90-minute trips across a towering forest canopy. Participants begin standing atop the first platform, then careen down lines ranging from a quick 225 feet to an invigorating 900-foot dual line that pairs riders side by side for races to the bottom or private auditions for the Miss Wind Tunnel competition. Seasoned guides help patrons strap into each line, where they can take solo trips. Little ones (weighing 60 pounds or less) can ride tandem with a guide, ensuring that every member of the family can zoom through the tree tops. In between lines two and three, visitors traverse the 60-foot sky bridge, which allows brief moments of repose amid the verdant outdoor setting. Gliders can rent GoPro cameras for a fee to capture their zipline experience on video. Nighttime zipline sessions grant heart-pumping adventures in the dark without the hassle of helping Edgar Allan Poe find the fuse box. Zip Nac also offers onsite overnight accommodations at their Zip Inn.
A lush tapestry of Bermuda grass unfurls across 6,532 yards of rolling hills to form Stone River Golf Club's 18-hole course. A relatively open layout, the course lulls golfers into a comfortable rhythm before surprising them with the occasional fairway-side pond, strategically placed tree lines, or undercover course rangers that work as process servers. The par-5 16th—the course's hardest-rated hole—requires a long tee shot and a long-iron or short-wood approach shot to reach the green in two, which sits 590 yards from the tee box. Golfers can prepare for rounds by taking cuts at the irons-only driving range, getting a feel for the putting surface on the practice green, or passive aggressively introducing clubs to their potential replacements at the pro shop.
Course at a Glance:
As befitting the course title, the 18 holes of Twin Lakes Golf Course wrap around a pair of large, shimmering lakes deep in the heart of a 1,000-acre tree farm. The Robert Hay design ensures that these aquatic locales will directly influence play, forcing carries on six separate occasions, including the very first tee shot. ProLink GPS systems onboard the Yamaha golf carts help players navigate the ordeal, showing how many yards lie between them and the TifEagle Bermuda grass greens, pointing out the course’s 51 bunkers, and calculating the running speed of the course yeti.
Course at a Glance:
Each weekend through the harvest season, YesterLand Farm welcomes visitors of all ages to explore several acres’ worth of classic country activities, whether they’re just experiencing their first falling leaves or feeling nostalgic for autumns of old. More than 30 attractions spring up around the open fields, from a restored 1952 miniature train to a small ferris wheel and a vintage rollercoaster. As explorers try to navigate a corn maze’s dense stalks, guests can head to collect gourds to make into smaller pumpkins. Both when the sky starts to darken and during the day, Yesterland stays aglow with handheld beams in the flashlight maze and campfires, around which visitors roast hot dogs and s’mores over terrifying tales of ghosts and deciding college majors.
The ridges and swales of Outlaw Golf Club’s recently renovated bentgrass greens get balls spinning and players cursing. These difficult patches of grass await golfers at the end of the nine-hole course’s bluegrass fairways, which undulate through the craggy terrain overlooking Jordanelle Lake. The course's bite doesn’t just come from elevation changes, though: three lakes and two streams tempt balls to take a dip, and the par 3 and 4 fairways demand frequent club changes by vacillating in length from 65 to 465 yards. Despite these challenges, novices can enjoy the course by choosing a more forgiving tee from the six that cluster in front of each fairway, including all-weather surface tees.
The club’s outdoor short-game-refining center invites players to practice their putting and chipping as they aim their balls up to 100 yards away. The center also serves as PGA Professional Dave DeSantis’s classroom, where he teaches players how to break free from sand traps without digging a hole they will eventually fall in.
Supreme Golf makes maintaining an oft-pricey golf addiction a bit easier on the wallet by granting golfers discounts at golf courses and golf schools, as well as cutting the price of books, golf clubs, and nutritional supplements. Golfers can enjoy relaxing, discounted rounds at area courses in cities across the country including such area courses as Bear Creek Golf Club in Dallas, Gateway National Golf Links in St. Louis and St. Andrews Golf and Country Club in Atlanta, soaking in the sights and badgering local pros for analysis of the annual caddie draft.