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  • Steve Habel

Texas City's Bayou Golf Course


The sense of community and fellowship one gets from playing golf is on ready display from the minute one lays his or her eyes on the Bayou Golf Course, the Texas Gulf Coast’s top value golf facility. Conditions here have never been better, and the course is a challenge throughout thanks to a well received renovation that brought out the best and discarded the rest.

There’s nothing better than a great golf course that can be played at an affordable price and that’s what you get at Bayou Golf Course. The mix of holes at the hybrid links/parkland-style facility was raised up from about 200 acres of marshland along Moses Bayou as it flows toward Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, with water coming into play on 12 of the holes.

“We’ve made this course a haven of sorts for golfers who want to have fun, be treated

like family and enjoy a consistent level of great golf for under $40,” said Mike Skiba, Bayou Golf Course’s head professional and director of golf. “If you come play our course we think you will want to play it again and again. That’s the best complement a golfer can give a course.”

Bayou Golf Course plays at 6,596 windswept yards from the back tees and to a par of 72. The routing was originally designed by legendary Texas golf architect Joe Finger in 1974 and Houstonian Mike Nuzzo put his stamp on the experience here when he restored

and enhanced the course in 2014. Subsequent improvements and tweaks have been done as needed, with the latest a resurfacing of the course’s cart paths and a total bunker

revitalization.

Play has continued to increase at Bayou Golf Course since the pandemic, with more that 32,000 rounds played at the venerable facility that sits just 14 miles from the Galveston city limits and on the outskirts of Texas City in Galveston County. Skiba, who’s been at Bayou GC for seven years, said the rounds and revenue have grown about 20 percent year to year, another indication of the quality and longevity of the course and the way it is run.

Bayou Golf Course checks a lot of boxes for most golfers with testing greens complexes and demanding putting surfaces that helps the experience rise above the norm. From the back tees, four of the par 4s are carded at over 400 yards and three of the par 5s play at more than 500 yards. Add in the wind, which is always blowing here, and those seven holes alone clearly indicate the need for prowess with the driver. There are also 18 sand bunkers strategically placed in throughout the routing to form a formidable combination with the course’s slightly elevated tees and greens.

“Our putting surfaces are rolling as smoothly as I’ve ever seen them,” Skiba said. “As everyone who plays here regularly can tell you, we can put the pins in places where precise approach shots are the only way they be attackedand play close to par.” After two relatively easy holes to start the round, the 414-yard par 4 third

ups the ante in spades, playing into the prevailing wind with water along the left on the approach and trees on the right near the preferred landing area. Water awaits a misjudged shot behind the smallish and undulating putting surface at the back-left. It’s one of the toughest pars on the Gulf Coast.

The 414-yard par 4 sixth demands thought and course management. The tee shot must be short of the bayou that begins 225 yards after which the golfer must produce an approach to another wind-affected, tiny green. The 481-yard par-5 10th offers the golfer a risk/reward option. There is a lake in play off the tee and on the approach, as well as out of bounds on the left, but birdie or better is within reach with two, or three, well executed shots. Bayou Golf Club is renowned for its four hole closing stretch. The 573-yard par 5 15th is the longest hole here and has a double dogleg. Next up is the deadly and long 191- yard par 3 16th, which always seems to need one more club than you think to reach the putting surface. The 17th, at 457 yards, is the longest par 4 on the course. It’s a dogleg-left with a stout carry across the turn to the fairway with trees guarding the left side as well. Most of the Bayou Golf Course’s regular players consider a par here to be like a birdie, especially on those days when the wind comes in from the north.

The round wraps up with a 393-yard par-4 that’s considered one of the best finishing holes in the Bay Area. There’s water along the left side and a deep bunker that guards the tournament hole placement at the back left.

Time does not stand still and neither do the demands placed on the management of a golf course. There are plans in the future to redo the front nine’s cart paths, to improve drainage throughout (especially on the front nine, which is the most affected by the bay’s tidal pools) and re-grass some areas on the edges of the course that have been damaged by the brackish water. The facility also offers the community a five-and-a-half acre walking family pitch-and-putt course with holes that play from 60 to 90 yards. It’s a place where you can find both the skilled golfer looking to hone his or her skills around the greens (and who isn’t) as well as beginners just learning about how great golf can be. It’s the home to the area’s First Tee program.

Bayou Golf Course is famously known as the place where Butch Harmon, one of the game’s most noted and famed instructors, got his first job in the golf business. “There are people who want to play this course just because Butch used to teach here,” Skiba said with a laugh. “I’m no Butch Harmon, but if you want to improve your golf game, I can get you on the right track.” Seems like a place to enjoy as often as your schedule allows. If you haven’t played Bayou Golf Course, you owe it to yourself to give it a shot.

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