When Davy Crockett left Tennessee in 1835, he announced, "You can all go to hell, and I'll go to Texas." Like modern-day visitors to San Antonio, he headed for the Alamo, which remains one of the nation's must-see historic sites. San Antonio also offers some of the Lone Star State's best golf, tasty Tex-Mex and raucous nightlife along the River Walk. And if your buddies still aren't impressed by all that, well, you know where they can go.
Pecan Valley Golf Club
7,010 yards, par 71; Greens fees: $49
Designer: J. Press Maxwell
Why it's worth it: Like the Alamo, Pecan Valley exudes history (if not in quite the same way). The course hosted the 1968 PGA Championship, which Arnold Palmer lost by a stroke to Julius Boros. It was the closest the King ever came to capturing the one major title that eluded him and you can follow his quest along this graceful track that has an abundance of mature oak and pecan trees framing the fairways and greens. Par will feel like a birdie on 18, a 418-yard par 4 that demands you lay up in front of Salado's Creek and place all your bets on a 200-plus yard approach.
The Resort Course at La Cantera
7,021 yards; par 72
Greens fees: $140
Designer: Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf
Why it's worth it: If you think Texas courses are all as flat as a tortilla, the Resort Course will surprise you as it winds up and down through the Hill Country. The site of the PGA Tour's Valero Texas Open, the Resort Course starts out as menacing as Clint Eastwood in a spaghetti Western: The first hole is a 665-yard dogleg right with a 125-foot elevation drop from tee to green. Save the press bets for No. 7: Not only will your opponent have to contend with the 80-foot drop off the tee, but also a pressure putt beneath the clearly audible screams from terrified riders of the Rattler roller coaster at nearby Six Flags Fiesta amusement park.
Brackenridge Park Golf Course
6,185 yards, par 72; Greens fees: $34
Designer: A.W. Tillinghast
Why it's worth it: It's not every day you can stroll onto a Tillinghast course, especially one that will leave you enough change from $50 to buy a beer and a burger. The course is short and flat, but is lined with pecan and palm trees that can leave errant tee shots as jailed as the convicts who built the course.
The Palmer Course at La Cantera
6,926 yards, par 71
Greens fees: $140; 210-558-2365
Designer: Arnold Palmer
Why it's worth it: Arnie used this hilly landscape to create a course that challenges players with stark elevation changes and discreet hazards, like the rocky streams that line the property. The hole you'll remember is No. 4 , a 188- yarder that's all carry over a pond to a green fronted by waterfalls.
WHAT TO SEE
The Alamo is rightfully everyone's first port of call in San Antonio. And if you don't get goosebumps reading the letters from the 189 men who held off 5,000 Mexican troops for 13 days, then you may be dead yourself. Admission is free. 201-225-1391, thealamo.org
The NBA's Spurs are the pride of San Antonio and the AT&T Center is electric on game nights. If you can score floor seats, you might catch a glimpse of TV hottie Eva Longoria, who is often in attendance to watch her fiancee, Spurs guard Tony Parker. 210-444-5050, nba.com/spurs
WHERE TO STAY
The Westin La Cantera Resort, a GOLF Magazine Gold Medal winner, has two fine courses, a spa and six swimming pools. Rooms start at $265. 210-588-6500, westinlacantera.com
WHERE TO EAT
Francesca's at Sunset (210-558-6500), the Westin La Cantera's signature restaurant, dazzles with a menu created by renowned Southwestern chef Mark Miller. Hint: Try the buffalo. Tex-Mex bistro Boudros (210-224- 8484) is the prize of downtown's River Walk. Start off with the chile-fried Gulf oysters. For an after-dinner drink, Zincoffers an appealing mix of hip locals and adventurous tourists, plus a first-rate wine list.
|HOW TO ENJOY SAN ANTONIO
by Robert Gamez, the 2006 Valero Texas Open winner
WHERE TO DRINK "Hills & Dales Ice House, a hole-in-the- wall near La Cantera, has all kinds of beers. It's sort of a biker-type bar."
WHERE TO EAT "I've eaten at Martha's, a Mexican restaurant near La Cantera, many times. My cousin knows the ownerthey just bring out plates for us. It's hard to get a bad Mexican meal in San Antonio."