TPC SAN ANTONIO (OAKS/CANYONS COURSES)
AT&T Oaks Course Architect: Greg Norman, with player consultant Sergio Garcia
Year Opened: January, 2010
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Slope: 148. Rating: 76.5
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 454 Yds 10 - Par 4 447 Yds
2 - Par 5 602 Yds 11 - Par 4 405 Yds
3 - Par 3 213 Yds 12 - Par 4 410 Yds
4 - Par 4 481 Yds 13 - Par 3 241 Yds
5 - Par 4 342 Yds 14 - Par 5 567 Yds
6 - Par 4 403 Yds 15 - Par 4 464 Yds
7 - Par 3 207 Yds 16 - Par 3 183 Yds
8 - Par 5 604 Yds 17 - Par 4 347 Yds
9 - Par 4 474 Yds 18 - Par 5 591 Yds
Par 36 3,780 Yds Par 36 3,655 Yds
Key Events Held: Valero Texas Open (2010-present).
AT&T Canyons Course Architect: Pete Dye, with player consultant Bruce Lietzke
Year Opened: January, 2010
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Slope: 136. Rating: 74.1
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 354 Yds 10 - Par 4 400 Yds
2 - Par 5 571 Yds 11 - Par 4 423 Yds
3 - Par 4 381 Yds 12 - Par 5 532 Yds
4 - Par 3 182 Yds 13 - Par 3 216 Yds
5 - Par 4 451 Yds 14 - Par 4 453 Yds
6 - Par 5 565 Yds 15 - Par 5 575 Yds
7 - Par 4 362 Yds 16 - Par 3 224 Yds
8 - Par 3 165 Yds 17 - Par 4 335 Yds
9 - Par 4 435 Yds 18 - Par 4 482 Yds
Par 36 3,466 Yds Par 36 3,640 Yds
Key Events Held: AT&T Championship (2011-14),
San Antonio Championship (2015-present).
Web site: www.tpcsanantonio.com.
HISTORY: Opened in January of 2010, the TPC San Antonio boasts 36 holes of
golf in the Texas Hill Country. Greg Norman and Pete Dye were called upon to
design two contrasting layouts to fit the unique terrain.
The newest addition to the stable of nationwide TPC courses, the TPC San
Antonio has had something of a rocky start...literally. When Norman designed
the AT&T Oaks Course, with assistance from Sergio Garcia, he needed to blast
down through six feet of limestone to craft the venue.
From there, Norman incorporated the rolling terrain and stately vegetation
to create 18 challenging holes of golf. So demanding in fact, that the PGA
Tour has moved the Texas Open to this venue after just five short months.
Though still known primarily for his work with club in hand, Norman's resume
as a course designer has grown substantially over the years, including such
wonderful layouts in the United States as the Medalist Golf Club (FL),
Oldfield (SC), TPC Sugarloaf (GA) and the Norman Course at PGA West (CA). His
farther-flung tracts, including Doonbeg Golf Club (Ireland), Mission Hills
Golf Club (China) and several courses in his native Australia, have also
received many accolades.
Of the TPC San Antonio course he designed, Norman said, "The topographic
subtleties of the rolling Texas Hill Country terrain, framed by magnificent
stands of mature live oaks, create a pristine natural setting that is as
playable as it is beautiful."
In building the AT&T Canyons Course, meanwhile, Dye teamed with player
consultant Bruce Lietzke to mold an equally difficult, but distinctive layout
to the Oaks.
Dye was given an enormous canvas, part of the 2,800 acres the two architects
had to work with. His Canyons course features spectacular views of the
surrounding region, wide fairways, flowing greens and strategic bunkering.
Dye's portfolio is legendary, starting with Whistling Straits (WI), The Golf
Club (OH), Honors Course (TN), TPC Sawgrass (FL), Long Cove Club (SC), Crooked
Stick GC (IN) and the Pete Dye Golf Club (WV), all ranked in the top-100 of
America's Greatest by Golf Digest. So renowned is Dye, that he is one of just
five course architects to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
The AT&T Canyons Course fits neatly onto Dye's impressive resume'.
"With the goal of crafting a course that fits harmoniously with its
surroundings, we took full advantage of the dramatic vistas, indigenous flora
and beautiful rolling terrain to create a memorable golf experience," Dye
Both courses feature a "closed-loop irrigation system" which was designed to
protect the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. In addition, the property boasts an
amazing array of wildlife, such as armadillo, bobcat, coyote, deer, fox,
turkey and several different species of birds. The Oaks and Canyons courses
are slated for Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary certification.
What makes the TPC San Antonio courses so unique is that they deviate from the
TPC norm of spectator mounding and viewing areas. Both courses were crafted
with the environment in mind for a more natural presence. Although the stately
JW Marriott hotel stands as a sentinel in the center of the property, the rest
of the land is devoid of real estate.
The powers that be did not stop with the famous course designers. They
continued to bring in high-profile people to make the TPC San Antonio the
ultimate golf destination, as former director of golf course operations at
Medinah Country Club Thomas Lively was signed on as the GCSAA Class A
Director of Golf Course Operations.
In addition, former TPC Sawgrass instructor Steve Hanlon heads up the Tour
Academy, which includes specifically-designed chipping and putting areas and a
man-sized driving facility.
The PGA Tour made its first visit to the Oaks Course in 2010, as Australian
Adam Scott stormed back from four shots behind to capture his first PGA Tour
title in more than two years. Scott began the final round in a tie for sixth
place after carding a 66 in the third round of the rain-delayed tournament on
the final morning. He closed with a five-under 67 and a 14-under-par, 274
total to defeat Fredrik Jacobson by one shot. Scott Piercy and Ryan Palmer set
the new course record at 64.
REVIEW: AT&T OAKS COURSE - Before starting out, it's always wise to pick the
correct tee boxes to play from and that certainly is the case on the Oaks
Course. The five sets of tees range from 5,514 yards to a whopping 7,435
yards, so choose wisely.
The opening hole is a gentle, dogleg left par four that stretches to 454 yards
from the Tiburon markers. No fairway bunkers, but plenty of trouble lurks left
with deep underbrush and trees. Naturally, the side to play from is the right,
however if you're aggresive and go left, this will leave a better angle of
attack towards the green. The elevated putting surface features a chipping
area to the right that will make for a difficult up and down. The green itself
bends from left to right and from mid-front to back, with plenty of slope.
Sand left of the green is well below the surface, but the trap to avoid is the
pot bunker in the front.
The meat of the course are the monstrous par fives and the second hole is no
exception at 602 yards. Calling for a fade off the tee, you'll need to stay
clear of the fairway bunker down the center of the landing area. From there,
it is layup time towards the right-center, missing the 40-yard trap down the
right and the trees jutting out in the fairway left. Although the putting
surface is just 25 paces in length, it is a shared green with the seventh.
Sloping from back to front, the putting surface can be slick, but will yield
plenty of birdies. Bunkers left and right are tough, but the rear, shared trap
One of the prettiest holes on the course is the third. A modest-length par
three, this beauty plays over a pond to one of the widest greens on the
course. Plenty of undulations can play havoc with the flat stick, but it is
what's in store when you miss the putting surface that can really hurt the
scorecard. Besides the water short, the enormous trap right is no picnic and
the chipping area deep and left are brutally difficult. I will say however,
that I did get up and down from behind the green. What's that old saying,
"even a blind squirrel finds an acorn."
A wide fairway awaits as you tee it up on the fourth, one of eight par four's
over 400 yards long on the Oaks Course and at 481 yards, it's the longest.
Missing the landing area will result in a layup, due to the deep fairway
bunkers left and trees right. Even with a successful tee ball, you'll have a
very long approach to a well-guarded green. The putting surface is long and
narrow with an equally long bunker left and chipping areas protecting the
remainder of the green. A back-left pin will be hard to get at, so play
towards the center for your par. It's the No. 1 handicap hole for a reason.
In contrast, the fifth is the shortest par four at 342 yards. A fairway metal
off the tee should suffice and played with a slight draw for optimum results.
Bunkering comes into play for the big hitters who attempt to reach the green
off the tee, as sand greenside left and short right can be reached. Another
long and tight putting surface presents even the most skilled player a
Requiring a sweeping draw from the back tee boxes, the sixth is a wonderful
par four. A tree stands sentinel on the right, just enough to get into your
head, but it's the carry over native grasses that might tighten your grip. A
medium iron should be enough to get home to an angled-left putting surface
that slopes from right to left. A 40-yard greenside trap forces a right-to-
left play from the fairway. Although the green falls off sharply on the left,
this putting surface is fairly benign. It certainly didn't stop me from three-
The longest green on the course is part of the uphill, par-three seventh. At
53 paces, this roller coaster putting surface provides plenty of defense to
the already difficult hole. The gigantic trap left, which covers the entire
green, sees plenty of action, despite most players trying to avoid the danger.
Right and short are equally challenging, as the chipping areas are tightly
mown. Most shots missed right, can move towards the green, so if you're to
miss, that's the side.
When it comes to par five's, the eighth takes a backseat to nobody at the TPC
San Antonio. Another 600-plus three-shotter, this killer plays uphill off the
tee, with native grasses and trees left and a deep, V-shaped trap right. From
there, it swings to the left for your layup, sans sand, however the fairway
tightens the further down you go. Your third is played slightly uphill to a
long, narrow green that runs from back to front. Sand on both sides sits well
below the putting surface, making it hard to get that sandy.
There is nothing routine about the ninth hole, despite the absence of sand.
That's right, not a fairway or greenside bunker in site, just a straightaway
par four that stretches 474 yards. Trees and rough adorn both sides of the
fairway, so keep it in the short grass if you want to get home in regulation.
The green is another long one, this time 47 yards in length, with plenty of
slope. That's a heck-of-a, one-two, closing hole punch on the front side.
Playing downhill from the tee, the 10th is a long par four without fairway
sand, but plenty of rough lining the landing area. Stay clear of the left side
of the fairway, as balls will get hung up on the sloping rough. Your approach
to the well-guarded green must be precise as three traps around the putting
surface feature plenty of rakes.
It turns out that my favorite hole on the Oaks Course is the 11th and it's not
because it's the only hole I made birdie. From an elevated tee box, No. 11
features a split fairway that tilts from left to right with a trap placed in
the center of the landing area. From the tips, it's just 227 yards out, but
267 yards to clear. If played correctly, the drive should favor the left side
of the tilted fairway, thus leaving a straight shot to the long putting
surface. Stay below the hole and you'll have a great shot at three. Miss right
and sand and double-bogey come into play, but not for me!
The 12th is very deceiving to the naked eye. At first blush, it's just 410
yards from the tips. No big deal, right...wrong. This straightaway par four
plays uphill from tee to green and features a tight landing area, a massive
fairway bunker on the left and a left to right sloped fairway. Even with a
successful tee ball, the player is left with an uphill approach to one of the
longest and most deceiving greens on the course. The putting surface is 48
paces long, slopes in several directions and is very narrow in the front
section. This is one hole I'd like to get a second crack at, since I failed
miserably the first time around.
With the San Antonio skyline in the foreground, the 13th is the longest par
three on the course, a whopping 241 yards from the tips. To make matters
worse, the putting surface is 49 yards long, possesses a fronting pot bunker
and chipping areas short and right. It does play slightly downhill, but when
you're striking a hybrid or long iron, does it really matter? By the way, miss
left and you'll find a very deep and unkind trap.
The shortest par five on the course awaits on the 14th. Before you get your
hopes up, this gem is 567 yards long and boomerangs to the right. Although it
requires a fade off the tee, the landing area is quite accommodating and easy
to negotiate. Your second shot, however will be tested, as the fairway narrows
quite significantly at the 100 yard mark. This is also where a long bunker
runs down the right to the green. The left side is no picnic either, as sand
and a rock wall await the errant play. The green is fairly benign, but more
sand awaits to the right. Par is far from easy here.
If you're thinking of gaining a stroke back on 15, well, forget it. Bending
slightly to the left, this long par four requires accuracy off the tee and
with your approach. If you can reach the fairway bunker down the right, then
you'll be left with a mid-iron second shot to a long and narrow green, guarded
by three deep bunkers that sit well below the putting surface. It's the second
hardest hole on the course and with good reason.
The signature hole on the Oaks Course is the par-three, Riviera-like 16th.
That's right, this 183-yard hole features a bunker in the center of the
massive putting surface. Not only that, the green features tiers on either
side of the trap and slopes from back to front. Assorted bunkers dot the
landscape to the right and left, not to mention a chipping area fronting the
green. A back-center pin is diabolical, especially when the wind is up, but a
front flag is no bargain either.
Norman has tossed in another driveable par four, this time it's the 347-yard
17th. The key is the drive, which must favor the right side, despite the 100-
yard trap, as the duel-level fairway features a ridge down the center, which
runs towards the green. Any tee shot pulled slightly will fall down to the
left towards the lower level, making for an awkward approach. The green is
long and elevated with several strategic pin placements, making for a
The closing hole on the Oaks Course is a sensational, snake-like winding par
five, that plays uphill from tee to green, reaching 591 yards from the back
markers. A fade off the tee is the choice play, as you avoid the hills and
trees right. Reaching this hole in two is highly unlikely, unless the course
is firm and fast and you're John Daly. You're layup will be tricky, as a
stream winds down the left side and cuts in front of the green and a pair of
bunkers wait in the landing zone to the right. A risky play for your second is
down the left side, where the fairway is split by the creek and the landing
area is tight, however this will give you a clear shot towards the green. The
putting surface is long and runs from back to front, with two traps rear and
one left. A great finishing hole for a PGA Tour event, featuring plenty of
To say that Norman was satisfied with his creation would be an understatement.
"I take great pleasure in designing golf courses that are as ecologically
friendly as they are challenging and enjoyable for the golfer. With the
closed-loop irrigation system and a mind for preserving the pristine natural
terrain, TPC San Antonio is sure to set a new standard in golf course
AT&T CANYONS COURSE - I can't believe I'm saying this, but Mr. Dye actually
gave us a break when he, along with consultant Bruce Lietzke, designed the
Canyons Course. Yes, you will be challenged if you play from the tips, but
from the other sets of tees, it's very playable.
It all starts with the opening hole, a very modest 354-yard par four with an
enormous fairway. Bunkers guard the left side of the landing area, but even I
put it in the short grass. Just a flip wedge remains to an elevated, long and
narrow putting surface that slopes from back to front. A definite birdie
No. 2 is the second longest hole on the course at 571 yards from the Cibolo
tees, named after the canyon in which it resides. This dogleg left requires a
draw off the tee, avoiding the several fairway bunkers down the right. Your
layup is probably the most difficult play on the hole, as the landing area is
quite tight, with trees right and native grasses and rough left. The green is
benign and very accessible, so birdies should be the norm, even for the mid-
Another short par four, the third is a dogleg right of just 381 yards. Cut the
corner over the sandy expanse and you'll be left with just a short iron to a
green that yields low numbers. A pot bunker short and two traps right and left
could provide some agita, but the putting surface is not too tricky.
One of my favorite holes on the course is the beautiful fourth. A rock solid
par three that generally plays into the wind and reaches 182 yards from the
tips. A watery grave lays in waiting down the entire left side in the form
of a lake that sits precariously close to the green. The arrowhead-shaped
putting surface runs from back to front with several bunkers dotting the
landscape. A back-left pin is most definitely suicide.
Six par fours on the Canyons Course run over 400 yards and the fifth is the
first at a robust 451. Bending slightly to the left, this hole must be played
right to left, skipping the long, trough-like bunker left and the two traps
right. A medium to long iron will remain to a fairly long green with a nice
bailout area on the right.
The second par five on the front nine is the sweeping, dogleg right sixth.
Reaching 565 yards, it will test your patience, not to mention your ability.
Playing uphill from the tee, you'll need to clear the traps on the right side
to reach the largest portion of the fairway. Miss left and you're in jail, as
the rough and native grasses run very close to the fairway and I personally
witnessed. Your second is played slightly downhill towards the layup zone and
although it's tight, it's very negotiable. Your approach to the green is
uphill with only the top of the flagstick in view. The putting surface is tiny
at just 29 paces in depth with a trio of traps securing the perimeter.
The seventh is the lone hole on the course without a bunker and at first blush
that might mean, piece of cake, but not so fast Batman. Playing directly
uphill from tee to green, this 362-yarder necessitates an accurate tee ball
and an equally accurate approach, as most of the putting surface is hidden
from view. Chipping areas surround the green that runs from back to front and
is quite long. Birdie yes, but stay below the hole for your best shot.
Perched on the highest point of the golf course, the eighth is a little par
three that should not be overlooked, despite its 165 yards. The putting
surface is elevated and surrounded to the right and front by a sandy moat and
to the rear and left by lengthy chipping area. Missing the green will result
in a next-to-impossible up and down. To make matters worse, the green is not
deep, but quite long, so pinpoint accuracy is key.
The ninth is another favorite of mine. The closer on the front side is a
dogleg left par four that plays downhill from the fairway to the green. The
fairway is quite generous, although a 100-yard bunker receives plenty of
action down the left side. A short iron should remain for your second shot as
you look down towards the putting surface. The green is 44 paces deep, making
club selection quite difficult. Miss long and you'll have little chance of
saving par, miss left and two bunkers will collect your approach. Heck, it's
the hardest hole on the course!
As sharp as the ninth doglegged to the left, the 10th does just the opposite
to the right. At 400 yards, it's not the hardest of holes, but that's of
course if you hit the fairway. The landing area is substantial, however the
corner of the dogleg is well guarded with sand and trees. The rolling fairway
leaves an uneven lie as you approach the minuscule putting surface. The green
does roll from back to front, with a couple of bunkers, a grass hollow left
and a little bit of slope. A good approach can yield a birdie.
From a slightly elevated tee, the 11th is a wonderful mid-range par four that
bends to the right. As wide as the fairway is, there is no room to miss in the
rough, as it hugs the landing area and the three bunkers on the right are not
be messed with. Just a medium iron should remain to a well-protected green,
with a pair of fronting pot bunkers. Chipping areas left and rear present
Although the 12th is the shortest par five on the course, it plays uphill from
tee to green, so getting home in two is possible, but highly unlikely. Avoid
the fairway trap down the right side and the native grasses left and you'll
make easy work of this hole. The landing area widens the closer you get to the
green, so feel free to attack. The putting surface is tiny with sand fronting
and chipping areas deep and left. A real birdie chance and for you big
hitters, maybe eagle.
Another outstanding par three, the 13th is surprisingly rated the easiest hole
on the course. Hardly. At 216 yards, it plays slightly downhill, but don't
underclub, as the chipping area sits well below the putting surface, as I
found out. A pot bunker right is no picnic and the back to front green is one
of the slickest on the course. The smart play would be towards the center of
the promised land, two putt for par and move on. This is no time to pin seek.
From the so-called easiest hole to one of the most difficult on the course,
the 14th is also the second longest par four on the Canyons at 453 yards from
the Cibolo markers. Doglegging hard to the left, you'll need to draw the ball
and avoid the 80-yard bunker that sits below the landing area down the left.
Even with a successful tee shot, you'll have a mid to long iron to an average
green with a fronting pot bunker. Missing deep is not an option, stay below
The final par five favors the player who can draw the ball off the tee, as the
hole bends to the left. Several well-positioned bunkers dot the landscape of
the longest three-shotter on the course. The layup area is generous, so try to
attack from the 100-yard mark and you'll have a clear run at the pin. The
green is long and narrow with several traps guarding the surface. If you get
past the tee shot, you're home free.
Completing the trio of longest holes on the course, the 16th is the lengthiest
par three on the venue and it's a beaute. The carry over native vegetation is
long and arduous, but nothing a hybrid can't handle. Three bunkers guard the
front and left portion of the putting surface. Any play short will trundle
back down away from the green.
In contrast, the shortest par four on the course is the 17th and it requires a
deft touch from the tee through the green. Your opening play must clear a
ravine to reach the fairway and the further left you go, the more you need to
clear. The right side of the landing area has a pair of traps for those of us
who bail out. Your approach is uphill to the green, so add a club or two to
reach the elevated putting surface. Miss left or long and you'll find yourself
well below the green with an almost impossible chip. It's an easy hole if
Mr. Dye saved the best for last, with the 18th on the Canyons Course. A
rugged, dogleg right par four that stretches a whopping 482 yards from the
tips. The fairway tightens dramatically at the 210-yard mark, so even with a
gargantuan tee shot, you'll need to be as straight as possible, as no less
than half a dozen traps dot the rolling terrain. Swinging to the right and
into a stiff Texas wind, you better break out the fairway metal or hybrid if
you have any shot at getting on in regulation. The green is also well
protected by sand with a chipping area in the rear. What a stellar finish!
FINAL WORD: Both of these courses were designed with the PGA Tour professional
in mind. However, with numerous sets of tees, even the high-handicap player
can enjoy these layouts. That variation is a key feature of playing at TPC San
Antonio, as the markers range from 5,000 yards on the Canyons Course to 7,435
yards on the Oaks.
The Canyons, with its wide fairways and scenic vistas, might be the easier of
the two courses. Compared to the Oaks course, some of the bunkering on the
Canyons is a bit pedestrian in shape, and lacks imagination, but it's hard to
find fault with the layout. Dye did his best to create a solid resort course.
On the other hand, the Oaks is a very difficult test, with tight oak-lined
fairways, spectacular bunkering and undulating putting surfaces. Norman
definitely carved this layout with his game in mind, putting the premium on
driving accuracy. Norman, as you might recall, was one of the finest drivers
of the golf ball during the prime of his career. You don't win over 100
worldwide tournaments by missing fairways.
Although rain is rarely a factor in the San Antonio area, which boasts 300
days a year of sunny weather, the courses' closed irrigation system is
designed to re-circulate the water through the turf, thus making for a well-
The one thing missing from the TPC San Antonio is a short course designed for
the whole family. These two venues are not kid-friendly and you can only spend
so much time at the six-acre water park and its five slides. That said, the JW
Marriott Resort & Spa is built on 2,800 acres, so who knows what the future
The TPC San Antonio is a private resort, so you'll need to stay to play. The
many packages available are designed to fit the needs of many different levels
This is the largest JW Marriott resort on the planet, with over 1,000 rooms, a
complete full-service spa, numerous dining options, a sensational sports bar
with enormous flat screen televisions and two wonderful golf courses that
share a 42,000-square foot clubhouse.
I'd be remiss if I failed to mention the extraordinary staff, especially the
golf professionals at the Tour Academy, that are very generous with their time
and effort. Believe me, if they can fix my balky putting stroke, then they can
do wonders for you.
But, don't take my word for it, just ask Mr. Dye who says, "I believe TPC San
Antonio will cement San Antonio's reputation as a world-class resort golf
destination." When one of the greatest architects of my lifetime makes that
bold a statement, well, it should be good enough for you.