In the shadow of Texas’ first golf course location, the renovated Moody Gardens Golf Course and Moody Gardens Resort in Galveston have risen as a hidden gem for visitors looking to find the Texas sun and surf along with a green grass, tropical challenge.
The course, designed by PGA Tour star Peter Jacobsen and teacher/architect Jim Hardy, was totally renovated by the twosome in 2007, re-opening in 2008 at the cost of $16 million to highlight the natural wetlands of Syndor Bayou along with more than 500 palm trees and the ever present tropical winds off the Southeast Texas coast.
The greens at Moody Gardens were also planted with Paspalum turf which is seawater tolerant and perfect for the natural Gulf of Mexico conditions.
In a different century, Galveston was positioned to be the Golf Capital of Texas if not the Southwest, with a population larger than nearby Houston at the time. The Galveston Country Club was the first officially chartered course in Texas in 1898, but the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900, wiped the course clean from the island and caused an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 deaths, still the deadliest natural disaster ever to strike the United States.
The original course was rebuilt and moved inland where it still stands just a few miles from the Moody Garden layout which is par 72, and 6,800 yards from the back tees. Moody Gardens is owned by the City of Galveston and open to all, but managed by Moody Gardens, a complete resort located adjacent to the course.
Water, from either manmade lakes or the nearby bayou, comes into play on almost every hole at Moody Gardens. Among the most memorable is the closing par 4 18th hole with water on the right side off the tee, a large fairway landing area and then another body of water to cross in front of the green.
The par 3 ninth hole also has a large lake to cross off the tee allowing you to end each nine in style or with a splash.
Moody Gardens Resort has 400-plus luxury hotel rooms along with a large convention space, huge pyramids which include an aquarium an indoor rainforest and 3D theater. The Galveston beach and seawall, erected to prevent another killer hurricane, is nearby, and there is a variety of activities for every member of the family.
The resort offers several stay and play packages with the golf course, including one which includes one nights lodging in a resort tower, one round of golf per person at Moody Gardens, one golf cart and one bucket of range balls.
Golfers have a chance to challenge the wondrously restored course, soak up the sun, the seaside air and the wind whistling through the palm trees, even a bit of Texas golf history, before sneaking back to the family activities at the resort.
It’s a full family adventure for those making the trek to the Texas Gulf Coast just southeast of Houston.