Saturday, March 23, 2013

MandelHow close is the new Max A. Mandel Golf Course to the Mexican border? "If you slice one bad enough," says its designer Robert Trent Jones II, "you'll need a passport to retrieve it."

The "Max" straddles Texas and Mexico, with the mighty Rio Grande serving as a handsome dividing line. It was named for local businessman Max Mandel, who donated 390 acres and $1 million toward startup costs.

Unfolding atop sandy bluffs above the famed river, the Max winds through groves of towering mesquites and is slashed by two massive arroyos, lending the design beauty and grandeur.

Four memorable holes skirt the Rio Grande: Nos. 8, 9, 15 and 16. The 462-yard, par-4 8th may be the strongest design of the four, but the blessedly short (138 yards) par-3 15th will be the crowd-pleaser, with a splendid river view.

The Jones design team thoughtfully provided junior tees and multiple routing options, so the course can be played in three-, six-, nine-or 18-hole loops. Laredo is a long way from anywhere (150 miles to San Antonio) but if you seek tranquility and value, make the trek to the Max.

Max A. Mandel Municipal
Laredo, Tex.
7,069 yards, par 72
Green fees: $33.50-$56
956-726-2000, themaxlaredo.com (Photo: John and Jeannine Henebry)

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