Nicklaus Design course will take its pound of flesh if you miss the fairway
BRYAN, Texas (Jan. 11, 2021) – Welcomed with a friendly greeting of “Howdy” and a line of maroon golf carts near the bag drop, it doesn’t take golfers long to know they are at the Traditions Club, home to the golf teams of Texas A&M University.
This is the proving grounds for the Fighting Aggies’ men’s team, which won the 2009 NCAA Championship and has since sent a handful of players on to the professional ranks.
After playing the course while dodging a series of thunderstorms and with its rough at USGA-type levels, it’s easy to see how A&M was able to make the most of its opportunity in the match-play final in the 2009 NCAAs. The golfer needs to be accurate to be successful at Traditions Club, and the demanding but fair layout forces you to play virtually every shot in your repertoire.
Traditions Club at Texas A&M, set on the outskirts of Bryan but near enough to see Kyle Field and the campus skyline in the breaks of the trees, opened for play in 2004.
Designed by Jack Nicklaus and his son Jack Nicklaus II, the 7,146-yard track features stately hardwoods and several natural creeks and wetlands. Traditions Club’s fairways offer some relief, but the strategically placed bunkers let you know where the Nicklaus team wants you to land your ball.
Like most other Nicklaus-designed golf courses, Traditions Club is characterized by its attention to detail and its subtle features on the tees, fairways and putting surfaces. The course plays to a rating of 74.6 and a slope of 151 from the tips.
Forced carries, elevated greens add spice
Fourteen holes at Traditions Club sport forced carries, either over water, native areas off the tee, or on the final approach. Nine holes make you carry the ball over trouble on both shots, and on three of the four par-3s you will need to hit you ball all the way in the air to avoid hazards.
The course is demanding because it makes you execute your shots. Today’s game is played in the air – especially at the college level – and the design here is reflective of the notion that a drive in the fairway can lead to a high shot over trouble to greens that are receptive but challenging.
Traditions Club’s opener – a 429-yard par-4 – allows the golfer to ease into a round, and success can continue at the second, a 387-yard par-4 that moves right to left over wetlands and across a creek at the putting surface.
The 539-yard par-5 third sweeps left to right and downhill off the tee, then back up hill and over a creek and a large bunker front-left of the elevated green. It would be easy to see the college player or low handicapper go for home in two here.
At 584 yards, the par-5 sixth is the longest hole at Traditions Club and its raised green, played over the creek and sandwiched between two fronting bunkers and a water-filled waste area rear, offers one of the course’s most unique putting surfaces; the dual green shares a rolling expanse with the 17th.
No. 9 is – by handicap – the hardest of the one-shotters at Traditions Club, playing at 216 yards over both a native area and a deep bunker front-right and making a back-right pin placement lethal.
With water along the right for its entire length and trees and bunkers lurking left, the 559-yard par-5 10th is a handful to attack in any scenario. The elevated green moves toward the water on the right.
The final four holes at Traditions show the Nicklaus team’s expertise at finding great holes on a good piece of land and should be considered the highlight of a round in Aggieland.
The 576-yard par-5 15th may be the most interesting hole on the course, turning left off the tee, then rolling downhill toward a mild slope and a target bunker set about 50 yards from the green. Again, the putting surface is elevated and guarded by a huge bunker front-left and three more right. The 27-yard deep green is slightly mounded and its back-left shelf makes for a tough target.
No. 16 is a 190-yard par-3 played over a pond and wetlands to a well-protected green. Then the round ends with two memorable par-4s. At the 427-yard 17th the drive is across a creek and into a fairway pinched at the landing area by a stand of trees. The approach is played over another creek, twice, then to the pitched green shared with the sixth hole.
The closer is the longest par-4 at Traditions Club, but the 444 yards are not the only things to consider. Two large bunkers in the landing area gobble up drives, and your move to the green is across water and to a green ringed on three sides by sand and collection areas. The hole is a fitting ultimate challenge to a testing round.
Nicklaus and son had a lot to work with on the site that became Traditions Club. Many of its rolling features were already in place thanks to the venue’s proximity to so many Brazos River valley creeks and ponds, and good soil was plentiful and used well.
Traditions shines off the course
The course also offers one of the finest practice facilities in the region, with eight target greens, a 349-yard-deep Bermuda range, a 6,500-square-foot Tif-Dwarf practice green, and a 4,000-square-foot chipping area with a greenside bunker.
In addition to being recognized as one of the best golf courses in Texas, Traditions Club includes a family swim center with a beach-like wading pool for the little ones, a sport and leisure pool, and a 25-meter junior Olympic lap pool, and casual dining.
Fine dining is available in the Clubhouse, which offers the Century Ballroom, Twelfth Man Dining Room, Sul Ross Room, wine cellar, and outdoor terrace.
The men’s and women’s locker rooms offer fitness areas and tables for gathering, The newly completed Racquet Center at Traditions Club provides a prime playing experience with our six outdoor lighted tennis courts, four pickleball courts and two paddle courts.
Traditions Club also offers luxurious two-, three-, four- and five-bedroom Founders, Gameday Cottages, and casitas overlooking the golf course that are available for overnight accommodations.