When you hear Laredo, Texas, the last thing that comes to mind is great golf. But believe it or not, built on the bluffs over-looking the Rio Grande — just a pitching wedge away from Mexico — the Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course has everything you need for an unforgettable getaway to wait out the Colorado cold season.
“The Max” as locals call it, is a Robert Trent Jones II Signature Design. This great facility is one of only six RTJ II designs you can play in Texas, with others including notable properties such as Horseshoe Bay, Mill Creek and Las Colinas.
The Max is not your run-of-the-mill municipal golf course — flat and featureless with holes stacked next to one another. Instead, the course weaves its way through what seems an endless mesquite tree forest, often leaving you with a feeling of seclusion during your round, and plenty of shade. The natural soundtrack of the Texas borderlands surrounds the course, and the wind fanning through the trees provides a cool respite from the Texas sun!
The design takes advantage of the gentle, rolling terrain to create The Max’s one-of-a-kind character — appealing to the eye from tee to green. Large, flat green complexes provide plenty of chances at the dance, but the Bermuda greens are quick, and the subtle breaks prove plenty challenging. Overall, the course is exactly what you would expect to find at an expensive country club, with manicured fairways, greens rolling fast and true, and (somewhat) forgiving penalty areas.
Aside from the fantastic course conditions, The Max’s variety of holes demands players’ attention throughout the round. From beautifully framed par 3s to reachable par 5s and drivable par 4s, each hole provides a new and interesting challenge. The par 3 at no. 15 is a perfect example, with strategically placed trees obscuring your view of the the bunker-protected green. From the right angle, the twisted, ancient looking mesquites frame the flag perfectly, and add a an opportunity to get a little fancy with your ball flight — get your cameras ready.
The par 4 no.18 couldn’t be a better finishing hole. A wide open landing zone from the tee sets the stage for an interesting approach, the fairway shrinking to a sliver as it doglegs left around a vast natural hazard. Regardless of your tee shot distance a layup could be as risky as challenging the hazard and cutting the corner — two green side bunkers will make you second guess your approach, no matter where you’re playing from.
After you finish the round, the great experience only continues. The Max’s new stunning clubhouse, a rustic adobe-inspired structure, fits seamlessly into the Texas landscape, as if it’s been there for decades. The main level is dedicated to the bar and Las Islitas Grill, dishing out delicious clubhouse favorites and chef specials before, during and after your round, and making it’s own mark on Laredo’s food scene. (See everything else Laredo has to offer here.) The upstairs event space, meanwhile, boasts the best views of the Rio Grande River in all of Laredo and the perfect place for weddings, corporate events and any type of private party you can think of. When the space isn’t booked, The Max hosts a variety of public events including yoga and live entertainment nights, making the most of one of the best overall venues in the city.
The Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course is truly a treasure for the people of the City of Laredo. The friendly staff, outstanding course design and conditions, delicious food with hearty portions and world class views to be expected from such a unique setting truly makes this place a worthy golf destination. The city cares about this municipal track and recognizes everything it brings to the community — as every muni course should — and it shows. The Max promises a unique, high caliber golf experience you may never have considered, and one you’re sure to remember.