The resort has combined our two favorite things, added a dash of exclusivity and opulence, and put a unique spin on the package

PORT ARANSAS, Texas (June 4, 2019) – The notion of getting golfers on the course – and then off it as quickly as possible – is not a new one, especially in today’s non-stop, hot-take world where time seems to move a little faster.

So when the folks at Palmilla Beach Resort & Golf Club, an award-winning, upscale coastal destination and fledgling community set on the dunes at this popular Texas Gulf Coast vacation mecca, decided to reduce the number of holes on their links course, the idea was not ground breaking.

The fact that the things are even better at Palmilla Beach now than when the resort sported one the nation’s best 18-hole seaside courses is what has made the transformation a home run. 

Following extensive damage across the island in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey, developer McCombs Properties decided to adopt a different take on the whole vacation paradigm. The move was to transform Palmilla Beach’s Arnold Palmer-designed links-style course into 12 holes of links-style play, including nine “traditional” holes, plus The Loop –  a three-hole, par 3 course.

The transformation has turned the resort into a diverse, national tourism destination for avid, new, novice and non-golfers. When the changes are completed (which is expected in early 2020), Palmilla Beach will offer multiple experiences that intersect golf with entertainment, dining and socializing with friends and family, all with the famous “Port A” vibe.

The fifth hole at Palmilla Beach, which is considered the best at the resort

There’s nothing quite like a day at the beach or a few hours on the golf course – and Palmilla Beach has combined those two favorite things, added a dash of exclusivity and opulence, and put a unique spin on the package.

The original track at Palmilla Beach, which played 6,821 windswept yards, and to a par of 71, was tough and unforgiving, and was one of the few “real” links courses in America. The transformed course is still a test despite consisting of four par 3s and five par 4s (two of which are short enough to be reached off the tee by big hitters). It took an hour and 15 minutes to go around – that has me being a believer in the concept.

When it comes to going to a beach and golf destination, the last thing most people want to do is spend four or five hours on the links. Palmilla Beach’s model gives you just enough golf (and good golf, which is important) and leaves plenty of time on the beach and the pool with your family and friends.

McCombs and crew did their legwork

Among the many factors considered in the change at Palmilla Beach is the multi-year decline in golf rounds nationwide. As recently as 30 years ago, half of the America’s golf courses were nine-hole tracks. Today, more than 4,000 nine hole courses can be found in the America out of a total of 15,000. 

Palmilla Beach’s course is routed over and through huge Mustang Island dunes and features the only golf holes in Texas lying directly on the coast (holes 4, 5 and 6), producing a true links experience in the Scottish/Irish tradition.

With the renovations, a foursome playing at Palmilla Beach can complete their round in 90 minutes to two hours: get on, get around, get back to the water and your family and friends – and it works as good as it sounds.

The facility is managed by Troon, whose agronomic team redesigned and built the course that is now carded at just 2,431 yards from the back tees and to a par of 32. The three-hole par 3 course, with holes that range from 80 yards to 115 yards, is also a lot of fun.

Palmilla Beach’s course has three sets of tees. The middle “Beach” tees shorten the yardage to holes ranging from 127 to 287 yards. The forward box, with holes 81 yards to 256 yards, are called the “Fun” tees, and, that that are.

There’s a laid-back beach vibe here – golf shirts and golf shoes, both sold in the golf shop, aren’t required. You can play barefoot – and some folks were when we visited – or even rent a golf board to fly around the course.

There will be two big additions to Palmilla Beach golf for the spring of 2020:  the new 18-hole natural grass putting course and the opening of The PlayGround, an open-air restaurant and lounge with an events lawn (integrated into the golf course) for family games and fun.

The sixth green at Palmilla Beach

Palmilla Beach is all the best of Port A in one big uncompromising package

Palmilla Beach, which is on the other side of the bay from the booming city of Corpus Christi, boasts some of the most spectacular beach views in the area, as well as concierge-style services and luxury resort amenities, best-in-class pools, world-class dining and pedestrian-friendly walkways and – this is really cool – private, direct access to the beach over the longest dune bridge in the Lone Star State. 

If you call ahead, the folks here will even set up a chair and umbrella on the beach for you, and roll out the air-conditioned restroom facility that’s available only to Palmilla Beach’s residents and guests.

The main dining option at the resort is called the Black Marlin Grill, a fine-dining-in-a-beachy-kind-of-way establishment that was one of the first restaurants to reopen in Port Aransas, even before grocery stores, after Harvey inflicted its considerable, and lasting toll on the community. 

There’s plenty of construction going on around the property, and its new townhomes and stand-alone cottages have been selling as fast as they’re being build. More than 30 have already been constructed since the hurricane and most are available to rent, with rates staring at $700 per night.

Many of the homes are spacious and include four bedrooms, a full kitchen, multiple living areas and a third floor with plenty of bunk beds for children, with plenty of room to move around and stretch out after a day on the course, the sun and the sand.

After a few days at Palmilla Beach, I’m a believer – and I think you will be, too. 


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