- Steve Habel
No signs of slowing down......
If there is one thing that’s a constant in the business world, it’s the lasting value of real estate and homes.Through the ups and downs of the bull and bear markets, owning property – especially in a great location with thoughtful planning and wonderful amenities – trumps nearly all other types of investment.
Given that certainty, it’s no wonder that Rockin’ J Ranch, the highly desirable private community five miles south of the town of Blanco, continues to be successful where others have been wracked by inflation. Rockin’ J Ranch is a 1,064-acre luxury neighborhood of spectacular Hill Country homes and homesites set amongst rolling fields of flowers and stands of oak and cedar trees. And at as its centerpiece is one of the region’s most enjoyable and recognized golf courses –Vaaler Creek Golf Club. Located less than an hour north of San Antonio and just a half-hour further drive from Austin, the development stands apart from others in the area, surrounded by sprawling family ranches that offers a little something of everything and is made special by the serenity and isolation that’s becoming just a bit too scarce these days. Where rising interest rates have had an adverse effect on many other communities in the region, Rockin’ J Ranch continues to enjoy non-stop growth. “There are about 80 homes under construction out here right now and we sold 30 more lots in the last couple of months” said Ryan Brubaker, Rockin’ J Ranch’s sales manager since nearly Day 1. “The interest in this community and what Colonel Roper envisioned from the start has not waned and continues to grow. I literally sold three homesites this morning – people genuinely love and appreciate what we have here.” Rockin’ J Ranch has grown up over the 19 years since development began on the spectacular Hill Country neighborhood that was once just rolling fields of flowers and stands of oak and cedar trees.There were 1,800 homesites plated for the community, and all but about 175 have been sold since 2004. Rockin’ J Ranch was the brainchild of Colonel Lee Roper, an El Paso businessman and 24-year Army veteran, who was entranced by the land that would become the community from the minute he set eyes on the sprawling tract more than 35 years ago. Roper has helped bring families to theTexas Hill Country via dozens of successful projects through his company, Rinco ofTexas, a firm that has been ultimately responsible for developing more than 30 properties across the Hill Country. “We’ve developed and sold more than 8,000 tracts of land over the past 30-plus years,” Col.
Roper said. “I don’t think anybody else has done that.” One of the earmarks of Roper’s communities – including Rockin’ J Ranch – is its use of a centralized water and sewer system rather than the well water and septic fields used in the majority of other Hill Country developments.That matters because water is a precious resource and so scarce in the region – even more so now than when Rockin’ J Ranch first came on line. Rockin’ J Ranch has become a melting pot of residents from acrossTexas and from coast to coast. “They are coming because of the beauty of the Hill Country,” Brubaker said. “Everyone wants a little piece of the heaven we have here, and we try to help them.” The original ranch presence was preserved with a handful of 150-year-old homes and landmarks being incorporated into the golf course clubhouse.All the street names in the community are named after Texas Rangers. Besides the golf course, Rockin’ J Ranch has enhanced its off-course amenities, first through the Stay & Play Offers at Vaaler Creek with condos for rent off the 10th tee, then with a gleaming pool, a nature park with hike and bike trails, pond for canoeing and fishing, and a pavilion near the community pool for after-golf dining, entertaining and special events. Roper’s ultimate vision for the future and Rockin’ J Ranch is a balance of the delicate Hill Country lifestyle with amenities that families desire for comfort and convenience. The Colonel still offers in-house financing for his lots (“we still make deals on a handshake,” Brubaker said). He continues to live on the same ranch he originally developed, and he still comes into the office and has lunch with his team. Vaaler Creek GC matures into ‘destination’ golf course
Vaaler Creek Golf Club is as firmly established as the community around it, grown up and grown in and one of the most popular courses in the area thanks to word of mouth and a bushelful of great reviews that continue to entice golfers to the property. Vaaler Creek GC is a place for great golf and a solid option that integrates challenge and fun in an isolated setting. It was voted the nation’s No. 19 Best New Course for 2010-11 by Golf Digest and has remained on the top of the region’s rankings because of its playability, its excellent conditioning, and the attention to detail by the facility’s staff. “Our rounds increased by 10-15 percent over the past year and that’s on top of the growth we enjoyed in the years before and then because of the pandemic,” said Adam Grosch,Vaaler Creek’s Director of Golf. “The course continues to improve and get better with age. It’s always fun hearing the comments of people who play Vaaler Creek for the first time – it’s always ‘why haven’t I played this place before?’” Opened as a nine-hole track in 2007, Vaaler Creek expanded to a full 18 two years later plus an addition of a driving range.The course was the first signature design by Michael Lowry, who fashioned a much-tougher-than-its-carded 6,874-yard, par-72 track among live oak and cactus. Lowry routed the layout along the rolling, scrub brush-filled prairies and worked in all sorts of cool features: ponds, sand hazards of sundry sizes, elevated tee shots and wavy, tree-lined fairways. Both nines offer far-reaching views of the famed surrounding region and the generous homesite setbacks mean that the house near the course are mostly out of sight and unobtrusive, adding to the course’s isolated feel.Given its length, golfers might think they can overpowerVaaler Creek, but finding success here is not simple.The course has a rich variety of long and short holes, with shots involving strategically-placed bunkers and an occasional carry over water.
The course’s true last line of defense is its lightning-quick, mounded and sectioned putting surfaces, which can make even the most aggressive players timid and prone to second-guessing. It’s hard to find a better three-hole finish than atVaaler Creek.The 515-yard, par 5 16th races downhill past a pond along the right before ascending to a green guarded front-left by a cavernous bunker. The green slopes back toward you from the fairway and, if the pin is at the right-front, there’s a backstop that might redirect your shot toward the hole. The par-4 17th plays much shorter than its 425 yards as it moves off a slightly elevated tee.The approach is over a babbling stream to an undulating and elevated green lined laterally by trees. Though the first 17 holes provide their share of thrills and chills, nothing prepares you for the 405-yard, par 4 closer.The drive here is best played long and downhill along the left side, but too far to the starboard side brings a lake into play. The approach is all carry and downhill over the water hazard, finishing at a putting surface in the shadow of the golf shop. Vaaler Creek has become a real favorite for Hill Country golfers and continually draws players from the region’s bigger cities. Rockin’ J Ranch feels like home – but that was the plan.