SAN ANTONIO, TX - Ed Wiseman first walked the land that is now home to the Hyatt Hill Country Resort in 1933 as a young cowboy from LaVernia in Wilson County, Texas - a place his family had farmed and ranched since 1851.
But Wiseman found this 2,700 acres in west San Antonio even more special than his home. He fell in love with its creeks, steep wildflower-covered hillsides, rocky ravines, rolling meadows, redbuds and live oaks on shady plateaus, serene lakes and ponds.
The he fell in love a second time. As a cowhand on the Rogers Ranch he worked for "Aunt" Mary Rogers, and met Blanche Rogers. They married a year later.
Under the management of Wiseman, the ranch survived through the lean years after the Depression and then began to prosper as he focused on sustainable land management and animal husbandry, raising cattle and crops such as corn, sorghum and oats.
In 1990, the Rogers-Wiseman family, with more than 100 years managing the land, sold 200 acres for the development of the Hyatt Hill Country Resort.
Today, the Hill Country Resort is selling Texas hospitality and Charlie Kent, director of golf, thinks that's enhanced by the history of the ranch being told at every turn in the hotel. Papa Ed's, Charlie's Long Bar and Aunt Mary's Porch are just a few of the restaurants and watering holes that tell the history of the ranch. Walk the halls and find more history hanging on the walls.
"The first thing we hear from our visitors is that they like the peace and quiet," said Kent. "We are out in the country, there are no traffic noises right out your back door and it's a stress reducer. The golfers like the western cowboy theme with the barn wood, the Hill Country architecture, windmill symbols and they like the conditions of the golf course with the overseeding we do in the winter.
"I think the real challenge of the golf course that Arthur Hills designed comes from its use of the land," Kent said. "The greens are rolling like the land around here, but there are no tiers. When you get to a hole that has a small green, it's tough to score. You also have lots of dry creek beds that come in to play and some of the native live oaks that will hang in your line of flight."
Looking for a golf course without home construction and noisy carpenters? This is the one. There are few new courses today where you can enjoy the peace and serenity.
The track measures 6,913 yards at par 72 with eight holes facing water challenges. No. 6, a 216-yard par 3 is tough enough for its length, but the green, built into a horseshoe-shaped land form, is long in width and narrow in depth. It's hard to hold especially with the trap centered and in front.
Strategy is a must on No. 8, a 563-yard par 5. There's water all down the left side and your tee shot can bite off some of the water for distance. But most clear-thinking golfers will go for the right side of the fairway. The next shot is "go for it or lay up" with a dry creek bed bisecting the fairway. The pin is also tucked right, with a lake right of the green, so the correct position, on the left side of the fairway, is mandatory.
No. 9, the second par-5 hole in a row, is 554 yards. A nice draw will kick your ball further downhill and there's another dry creek bed you have to negotiate - either lay up behind or hit solidly over it on the second shot.
It's a double green, shared with No. 18, so you have to be precise on the approach. There's an amphitheater setting behind the green for your gallery and a lake in front.
The Hill Country Resort has it all. Stop, look and listen. You will be amazed at the peacefulness.
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort
9800 Hyatt Resort Drive
San Antonio, TX 78251
Greens Fees: $120, includes GPS, cart and range. $70 twilight fee in summer. Call for golf packages.
Web: www.sanantonio.hyatt.com/sanhc/. Hole by hole description: www.sanantonio.hyatt.com/sanhc/golf/golf01d.html
Awards: In its first year, 1994, the Hill Country Golf Course was nominated for best new resort by Golf Digest. It was also listed among Golf Magazine's Top Ten Courses You Can Play and was the recipient of Corporate Meetings and Incentives Golden Links Award. Condé Nast Traveler's "50 Best Golf Resorts". Golf Magazine's Silver Medalist 1996-1999. Golf for Women List of 100 Women Friendly Golf Courses.
Arthur Hills has more than 23 years experience designing golf courses. He has designed more than 100 courses and renovated more than 70 courses in the United States. He was recently named one of "Golf's Hottest Architects" by Golf Digest.
From San Antonio Airport take the Loop 410 West exit onto Highway 151 West (SeaWorld exit). Proceed west for three and a half miles to Hyatt Resort Drive. Turn right into Hyatt Resort Drive Proceed to the hotel.
Fun at The Hyatt: How about a four-acre water area? Drift along the 950-foot Ramblin' River®, a Texas-sized riverpool, or jump into one of two swimming pools, separated by a cascading waterfall. Also, there's tennis or a fully-equipped health club, which also has a sauna and outdoor spa. You can also treat yourself to various beauty treatments or a massage. For the kids, there is Camp Hyatt®.Call for details.
You can find authentic Hill Country cuisine at Antlers Lodge, hearty sandwiches at the General Store and casual fare at Springhouse Cafe. Sit a while at Aunt Mary's Porch and enjoy a landscape of rolling hills while sipping your favorite beverage. Saddle up to the 56-foot carved wood and copper bar at Charlie's Long Bar or practice your putting, while snacking at the Cactus Oak Tavern.
Some say it is a "state of mind" - a laid-back existence, German architecture and natural beauty.
It's deep in the heart of Texas and most natives believe it is the most beautiful region of the state. Some of its characteristics include: craggy, rolling, steep hills and sculptured limestone cliffs. Trees include live oaks, cedar, Spanish oaks, flowering shrubs, mountain laurel and bald cypress. There's also an abundance of water with lakes, rivers, spring-fed streams and prairies covered by bluebonnets, paintbrush, cone flowers and buckeyes.
The Texas Hill Country covers approximately 25,000 square miles and all or parts of 23 counties west and north of the Balcones Escarpment as it curves from Austin down through San Antonio and beyond. A modern-day boundary is the eastern edge of Interstate 35, from north of Austin to south of San Antonio. The southern edge runs from San Antonio west to Uvalde and the western edge is along an irregular line from Uvalde northward to Junction and Menard. The northern boundary is from Brady back east to 1-35 at Georgetown.
Quiet Factor: A+
Practice Fac.: A
Clubhouse/Pro Shop: A
Pace of Play: A
Overall Rating: A