Grade “A” Architecture
Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course — “The MAX“
18th Hole / 450 Yards / Par-4
Architect: Robert Trent Jones, Jr. (2012)
Literally deep in the heart of Texas and situated just across the Rio Grande River which separates the United States and Mexico is a municipally-owned golf course that has made major strides since opening in 2012. The Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course — known more affectionately as “The MAX,” provides a quality design effort from the handiwork of veteran architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr.
Located on 270-acres of land in Laredo and donated in the memory of long time community contributor Max A, Mandel — The MAX provides a range of flexibility for various handicap levels. The course can stretch to 7,297 yards and is complimented by a well-designed 9,000 square foot clubhouse which opened in the summer of 2013.
Among the most prominent holes is the 18th — a strong closer that yields nothing unless top tier execution is brought to the forefront. Generally, the hole is played in a crosswind which can blow quite hard from the southeast with wind pushing shots from left-to-right.
The hole bends gently from right-to-left so players must be skillful in flighting their shots both for trajectory and for shot shape. Those players eager to challenge the longer carrying left side can do so but the demands become more noticeable. Playing down the safer right side is an easier target but adds more distance to cover with the approach.
The green sits behind a barranca which must be crossed with the approach. The green swings ever so near to the barranca so players must gauge the wind velocity correctly when deciding upon which club to use.
Bunkers are also well-placed to catch the careless play. When the pin is cut towards the extreme front right the demands become even more challenging since there’s little room between bunkers — both in front and behind the putting surface.
The green widens on the left side but the need to choose wisely with one’s approach is still in full force.
For those who miss the fairway there’s a bailout area to the far right which allows for a short pitch shot for one’s 3rd shot. By no means is the pitch an easy matter — particularly when the pin is towards the narrower front right location.
The MAX concludes in a strong manner and shows how municipal golf course architecture can be both thought provoking and elastic so the widest range of handicap levels can be tested appropriately without being consistently overwhelmed.
Best of all, The MAX provides a rate structure that’s very reasonable for those wishing to play more than once.