La Posada Hotel’s pool is a perfect getaway by itself.
What are the makings of the perfect golf getaway? Where to play and how many rounds you can squeeze in may be first on the mind, but don’t neglect the most important parts of your vacation, meaning, well, everything else. Whether you’re playing sun up to sundown, or a quick round in-between tourist stops with the family, the time you spend on the course is a mere fraction of your vacation as a whole. Where you’re staying, dining options, local nightlife, attractions and all “the little things” are the factors that will determine just how great your golf getaway will be.
It’s those special little things that set the city of Laredo, TX, apart from the Scottsdales, Orlandos and others typically associated with golf getaways. A city somewhat lost in the mainstream perception of a US border town, Laredo exists in a world unto itself; rich with natural beauty, a culture steeped in history, and offering a kind of rest and relaxation unlike anywhere else.
Though founded in 1755, during the Spanish effort to colonize northern Mexico, it wasn’t until after the U.S.’ annexation of Texas in 1845 — and the subsequent war with Mexico — that Laredo became a part of the United States. Centuries of Spanish, Mexican and American cultural exchanges have left an indelible mark on the city, making for an unmatched experience for anyone looking to explore one of America’s most unique regions.
San Augistín Cathedral looms over the city center.
Laredo’s cultural identity is defined by the city’s center, San Augistín Plaza in downtown’s San Augistín Historical District. A beautiful, tranquil park lined with brick roads neighbors the 19th century San Augistín Cathedral, completed in 1872 and run by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Laredo. The building’s roots date back to the 1760s, when a small mission was built as a place of worship, later replaced by a small stone structure in 1778. Visitors can still see the outline of that stone structure outside the cathedral’s front doors, with colored bricks marking the original foundation that still rests several feet below ground.
Adjacent to the cathedral, is the gorgeous property of the original casa consistorial (think town hall), now an impeccable Four Diamond hotel, La Posada. The property was once converted into a high school — the building that now houses the main lobby, restaurant and other amenities — before becoming the city’s foremost boutique hotel, touting impressive views of the Mexican border and famed bridge crossings from the banks of the Rio Grande. The historical building flies seven flags above its doors, each representing a territorial claim on the land (see image caption below) a proud deflection from Texas’ usual “Six Flags” moniker found throughout the city.
The “Six Flags of Texas” represent the 6 nations that claimed the land. Laredo flies 7 flags, with addition of the short-lived Republic of the Rio Grande.
Inside, La Posada’s quaint elegance is evident at first glance with rustic accents and refined features highlighting the property’s design and historical significance. Manicured courtyards lined with pristine gardens serve as corridors to the guest rooms, with the stunning main courtyard hosting one of the properties two outdoor pools, a poolside bar and water feature surrounded by towering plants and livened by the sound of birds singing as they bustle to and from. All in all, La Posada delivers a quintessential vacation setting. Rooms include nods to historical elegance as well, with exposed brick walls and more rustic accents characterizing the cozy, comforting and well-maintained spaces. With a top quality full service bar and restaurant, ballroom and event venue, La Posada Hotel has created its own signature brand of rest and relaxation you can only find in Laredo.
Right outside the hotel doors is The Republic of the Rio Grande Museum, Laredo’s definitive historical center. The small museum is one the city’s oldest structures, having served as the capitol building of the short-lived Republic of the Rio Grande and the former residence of the famed Bartolomé Garcia, the mayor of Laredo. Though small in size, the museum is rife with artifacts dating back to the earliest years of the territory, and authentic displays transport visitors into a day in the life of those living on the Rio in the 1800s, and a must-visit for anyone wanting to make the most of this unique cultural experience.
All You Can Eat
While Laredo’s “authentic” dining scene is dominated by latin cuisine — don’t sleep on the local gas station’s tacos — the growing metro is home to many locally-owned restaurants, and trending towards the modern craft movement with more and more casual, hip, and delicious options abound. Lolita’s Bistro is a shining example of the latter with gorgeous plates served in a delightful, social media worthy atmosphere. Unbeholden to a specific cuisine, Lolita’s menus delight with a range of Middle Eastern, American and Asian flavors alongside its stand-out Latin options. The appetizer list cannot be missed, especially with the salpicon tostadas and Baja style lobster taco waiting to dazzle your taste buds. The salpicon (shredded seasoned beef served cold) sticks to the Mexican variation — shredded beef stewed with onion, garlic, and dried spices served cold — heaped on a fresh tostada with fresh pico, avocado, queso fresco and onion coming together for an unforgettable bite. Not to be outdone, the lobster taco’s creamy texture works surprisingly well inside a tortilla, with saffron rice, chipotle avocado and black beans complimenting the fresh lobster flavor and making for an addictive teaser.
Paleque Grill wows with stunning plates and spot on flavors.
For an authentic taste of Laredo, the Palenque name is inescapable. Taco Palenque is a local fast-food mainstay for 24 hour favorites, serving the signature flavors of its tacos and quesadillas from multiple locations all across Southeast Texas. It’s more refined relative touting the same moniker, Palenque Grill wows diners with bountiful servings of North Pacific Mexican Cuisine, superb presentation, and spot-on flavors. Per Texas standards, the meal begins with complimentary chips and salsa, which you do not want to skip. Whether sweet, smoky or spicy, the sampling of house salsas disappear all too quickly, serving as a perfect compliment to anything else you order, too. Mouth watering options line Palenque Gill’s menu cover to cover — from seafood to enchiladas, parrilladas and more — meaning the most unenjoyable part of your dinner will be having to choose one. For an excellent sampler option, go for the parrilladas; enormous sizzling platters of perfectly cooked meats, vegetables and peppers served with accompanying sides and tortillas. Grilled meats show strong with or without accoutrements, but the shrimp stand without equal — stuffed with cheese and peppers, wrapped in bacon and charred impeccably.
Exceptional flavors stick close to Laredo’s premiere golf offerings as well, as evidenced by Las Islitas Grill inside The Max’s stunning adobe-style clubhouse. Las Islitas’ attention to quality is on display in any of its traditional clubhouse menu items — sandwiches, apps, burgers, salads and more. But a watchful eye on the restaurant’s specials will catch a number of affordable must-have dishes to enjoy wether you’re playing or not. Local favorite Stone and Stein pizza, meanwhile, crafts wood-oven pizzas to order in the Outlet Shoppes at Laredo (see below). The Subway-meets-Chipotle-meets-pizza concept is built to turn out fresh pies without delay, boasting all the freshest ingredients you could want on a custom pie.
Cultura Beer Garden sets the tone for an evening on the town.
For a quick fill up before a night out begins, Cultura Beer Garden is a must. The unique spot showcases Laredo’s handle on modern food trends, with live entertainment, libations, and local food trucks all in one, with amble outdoor seating and indoor space as well. Start with drink orders at the front bar before choosing from a variety of food trucks lining the back driveway — you can’t go wrong. The large community tables and live entertainment complete the beer garden vibe, and set the perfect tone for what’s to come.
From Dusk Till Dawn
When the weekend sun sets on the city center a different Laredo comes alive, fueled by bright lights, loud music, and refreshing cocktails. Siete Banderas has mastered each. The Banderas building is unique in and of itself, with its second story roof top patio bar overlooking the uncovered portion of the immense ground level — another full service bar offers covered seating at the ground level, too. The music blares from each corner of the property and through the pulsating sound system, playing top American and Latino hits that keep the crowds whooping until last call. Aside from the club scene, Laredo’s bustling nightlife is sure to suit any style of entertainment one could be looking for, including karaoke, jazz, sports bars, pubs, and everything between.
When the last call beckons and the music subsides, a walk through the city center proves as enjoyable as the day before. The perfect nighttime climate blankets the city in preparation for the next sunrise, though the city doesn’t sleep. Just across the banks of the Rio Grande, thousands of Mexican day laborers, trucks, trailers and travelers, make their way across the border 24 hours a day, and represent the city’s main economic driver. Laredo’s population balloons by the tens of thousands daily with legal border crossings, and afforded a sense of security by a presence from every branch of American law enforcement patrolling the city and surrounding areas.
Shop till you drop at Laredo’s premiere outlet mall.
As Laredo’s population and development continues to boom, the city’s finding new ways to capitalize on its unique situation. Of the thousands crossing the border each day, many make their way through the city to outlet shopping hotspots further north. In order to cut that travel distance and introduce travelers to all Laredo has to offer, the city opened The Outlet Shoppes at Laredo. The beautifully colored, open air mall touts some of the best mainstream brands, including Nike, Puma, Columbia, H&M, Vans, Rue 21, Zales and a whole lot more — with clearance prices and savings opportunities unmatched by most outlet malls. Crowds line the corridors from open to close, speaking not only to the success of the mall but also the high quality shopping options for locals and travelers alike.
Laredo as a whole is in the midst of reimagining itself, squashing the misinformed stereotypes that come with being a southern border town. With so much to offer — from top quality golf offerings to a one-of-a-kind cultural experience — the city not only deserves consideration as a destination vacation, it demands it.
For those of us in more seasonal golf locations, the coming of the Masters each year marks the unofficial start of the golf season. Lord only knows what all’s accumulated in the depths of your golf bag since last season, so before you go trunk slamming to your first tee shot of 2019, it’d be wise to take inventory.
We’re skipping past the obvious golf necessities — count your clubs, clean your grooves and wash your balls — and focusing on what’s in your bag’s extra pockets: tools and accessories. There is no shortage of these products on the market, from gimmicky to practical and everything in between, but the items below are sure to earn a permanent spot in your on-course arsenal.
The tagline “The best divot tool in golf,” is a little misleading when you’re talking about Birdicorn’s claim-to-fame. Don’t get us wrong, it is the best repair tool on the market, but that’s literally a fraction of what this product can do. Birdicorn‘s genius lightweight design packs 6 functions into one easy-to-use tool; a repair tool, putting alignment aid, grip rest, bottle opener, line stencil, and ball mark holder (fits any 1″ ball marker). The compact, ergonomical design fits comfortably in your pocket, meaning you’ll have absolutely no reason to leave pocked greens behind you on the course. Birdicorn tools are made from CNC anodized aluminum for longevity, and come in a wide range of colors and matching ball makers — or you can take it to the next level and choose a custom design. In short, Birdicorn is simply “the best tool in golf.”
Whether controversial or not, CGB believes golf and music go hand-in-hand — there’s nothing like the sounds of Nature when the beat drops. Ampcaddy knows exactly what we’re talking about and has delivered us from the days of shitty cellphone speakers and clunky wired setups. As a matter of fact, the Ampcaddy is a speaker designed specifically for the golf course with directional audio features (keeping the music from disturbing other golfers), an adjustable attachment clamp, a rechargeable lithium battery, 33′ of Bluetooth connectivity and a weather/shockproof housing. Don’t worry about keeping your connected devices safe, secured and fully charged, either — Ampcaddy’s portable charger has two USB ports for multiple devices, and the phone holder keeps your device from going anywhere. Like keeping the tunes to yourself? Ampcaddy’s bluetooth ear buds and beanies keep you jamming on and off the course, anytime, anywhere. Hey DJ, play that song for me.
Electric Golf sunglasses
Your fashion choices on the course are your own business — though we hope you’re at least trying — but protecting yourself from the elements is important stuff. Electric Golf sunglasses represents the best of both worlds with affordable, stylish, and high performing eyewear specifically designed for all golfers. The company’s offerings are a perfect substitute to their often overpriced competitors without skimping on performance, including the Knoxville Pro which earned a Golf Digest Editor’s Choice Award for best eyewear in 2018. Accompanying Electric’s golf-centric designs is a variety of lens options to make sure you get the exact style and performance you’re looking for. As your Electric sunglasses become your go-to, you’ll want to keep an eye out for anything else the company may be up to — its award-winning design team is constantly cranking out some of the hottest golf accessories and apparel you’re going to find.
Pins & Aces headcovers
Sticking with the theme of style and performance, don’t forget about your club heads. Pins & Aces has bust onto the headcover scene with quality, stand-out styles that are sure to draw attention to your bag. While we may be partial to the company’s Colorado Collection, the Keep America Great! collection, sporting a likening of 45 himself complete with a tuft of yellow hair, has become a hot-list item (and a sure conversation starter). Available in sets or driver through rescue, Pins & Aces headcovers are all hand-made from premium leather to ensure the highest quality and longevity. Bigly.
Haywood Golf Slope rangefinder
Haywood Golf is making a name for itself in the golf club game with stunning wedges — rumor has it a full set of irons is in the offing, too — but that’s not all the company is about. HG’s Slope rangefinder is perfect for golfers aiming, quite literally, to up their game. With 500 yards of range, 6x magnification, slope adjustment and even more features, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better value for $175. It may seem menial, but knowing your distance from the pin or target area makes all the difference in making a confident swing on the ball. HG’s compact design is easy to hold, water resistant, and also comes with a hard carry case to keep the unit safe in your bag. With a plethora of rangefinders now touting dozens of features, something like the HG Slope is an excellent product to test the waters with at a lower price. You may not find a better value when when you’re shopping for rangefinders.
Uther golf towels
Golf can be a dirty game — in more ways than one. But if you let all the dirt and grime build up on your club heads unchecked, it’ll start affecting your ball striking. Golf towels, the ever-preferred cleaning method, have always been a must-have, and another way to flash a little personal flare on your bag. Uther plays that game better than most by producing the most durable and stylish golf towels we’ve been able to find. Keeping your clubs clean is the easy part, selecting a print from Uther’s ample offerings will prove much more difficult. It’s literally impossible to find a Uther towel you wouldn’t want on your bag — you can even customize your own to make sure of it.
Asher Golf gloves
“Look good, feel good, play better” usually rings true, but like everything else, the difference is in the details. Asher Golf specializes in the details of premium golf gloves. Asher gloves come in a wide variety of colors and styles, including NBA logos and collabs with other brands. Made from high quality leathers and durable velcro and palm inserts, these gloves are also made to last — more than you can say about the wrinkled mass of dried leather at the bottom of your bag. With styles and color sure to match any ensemble, durable materials, and a price point much lower than other premium gloves, there’s no reason not to give Asher a swing.
A tradition unlike any other; an unforgettable experience; the pinnacle of golf excellence — much can be said about the famous $1.50 pimento cheese sandwiches at Augusta National.
Now, if you live anywhere but the American South, chances are you couldn’t care less about a pimento cheese recipe. But just like sweet tea, the difference is in the details, and these recipes are often closely guarded — no kidding. Augusta is already known to take its traditions seriously, slapping many a small business with cease-and-desist orders for just about anything that resembles anything Masters related (even the damn color scheme), and the famous pimento cheese recipe is no different.
Really though, how different can a cheese, pimento and mayo mixture really be? Apparently quite a bit. A quick Google search delivers a myriad of renditions for Augusta’s “original” recipe, though, those who’ve actually made the coveted concoction for the tournament refuse to share the actual ingredients (and are probably subject to non-disclosure agreements, knowing Augusta). In 2013, the last time Augusta’s recipe changed with a new vendor — much to the ire of attendees — ESPN’s Wright Thompson tracked down what could be the authentic version, though he still couldn’t unlock the “secret” ingredient, only that there is one for sure.
Whether this is the bonafide authentic version of Augusta’s famed recipe or not, it’s the one we’ll be using Masters weekend.
Augusta National’s Pimento Cheese Sandwiches
3 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded yellow sharp cheddar cheese
4 oz crumbled blue cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 (4-oz) jar sliced pimentos, drained
1 cup light mayo
2 tbs Dijon mustard
1 loaf of white bread
Combine cheeses, pimentos, mayo and mustard in a food processor and process until smooth. Cover and chill. Spread on bread slices.
According to a study by Dr. Lucius Riccio, an original member of the USGA’s handicap research team, cited by golfpracticeguides.com, the average golfer makes 36 strokes or less with a putter per 18-hole round. That’s two putts per hole, and, according to our math skills, is pretty much half of the total number of strokes you’d make for a par 72 round. Kinda makes you realize just how awful three putts can be, and how important your flat stick really is.
Practice usually does make perfect, but when you’ve reached a point in your game where you’re comfortable with your putting stroke, it’s time to tinker with the tech.
Like drivers, big brand names typically dictate what most consider “the best” putters on the market, but if you’re really serious about saving strokes on the green, consider looking at smaller, specialized clubmakers. Cure Putters is a perfect example. The company launched with two models at the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show to immediate success. 5 years later Cure touts 12 models, each designed to perform for every golfer.
Cure’s Tour X1 blade putter
Cure’s claim to fame is its “extremely High MOI” (moment of inertia). As the company explains on the website, a common misconception regarding high MOI putters is that they only offer forgiveness on off-center hits. They certainly do, but Cure’s high MOI designs also keep the clubface more square throughout the entire stroke, which, combined with that off-center forgiveness, equals more distance and directional control. (These results are also based on a player’s individual “IDEAL WEIGHT” — which basically means you’ll want to be fitted to optimize the weight of your Cure putter.)
The company graciously sent 3 putters built to spec to the CGB headquarters for review purposes, and our first impressions from the practice green: Cure = Pure. (We won’t be sending these back.)
With my usual blade putter, a pre-Titleist Scotty Cameron, I sometimes struggle with the initial takeaway in my backswing, wavering off square from the ball within the first few inches of my stroke. When this happens, I find myself focusing solely on correcting my clubface mid swing — often over or under compensating — and neglecting the other factors determining if the ball goes in the hole or not, like distance control. But after several practice putts with the Cure Tour X1 ($299.95), I found myself having to force the clubhead to waver on my takeaway to produce similar mishits. The Tour X1’s aluminum clubhead, with tungsten weights in the toe and heel and removable steel weights in the back, helps promote a straight and silky smooth stroke overall — truly noticeable — and the feel and sound of the ball coming off the 4.85″ milled face is unreal. Putt after putt after putt with the Cure rolled as pure and on line as one could ask for, and even toed and heeled shots only went slightly off line, still delivering not-so-terrible results. The confidence this club brings to my backswing allows me to focus on my desired line and pace, knowing the ball will come square off the clubface. Finding the pace can be a bit tricky to get used to if your Cure is any heavier than the putter you’re use to playing — really, though, when is it not? — and you may find it all to easy to muscle it past the hole until you get it dialed in (all the more reason to get fitted.)
The Tour X1 is a beautiful club to look at, too. Though one of Cure’s smaller designs, the clubhead is still larger than most blades you’ll see, but with a solid black finish, hidden weights and clean lines, it isn’t distracting to the eye or gaudy in any way. Aside the X1, Cure’s Tour Series includes two mallet designs in the X2 and X3, both with seemingly impressive features along the same lines.
Cure’s CX1 blade putter
The praise continues on to the CX1 ($279.95) from Cure’s Classic Series. With a slightly larger 5″ clubface, the CX1 touts the same weight systems, milled face and high MOI as the Tour X1, but the slightly bulkier design reads and feels a lot more like a mallet hybrid than a traditional blade putter — the best of both worlds. Speaking of mallets, the Classic Series includes two traditional mallet designs with the CX3 and CX4, and rounds out its blade design offerings with the CX2. The Classic Series putters are also available in red, black, or white, to add another touch of style.
While it’s clear Cure putters isn’t making your average blades and mallets, the company obviously wants to make sure it stands out from the pack. The RX Series does an excellent job of that — easily the most customizeable putters that have ever come through the CGB headquarters. The RX Series sports an eye-catching door handle design and “t bar” alignments; the putters vary by profile size with the RX3 ($259.95) being the smallest with a 5.25″ milled face. Other than that, there’s little you can’t customize on these putters. Each comes with two, 12g, 1/4″ aluminum and two, 35g, 1/4″ steel toe and heel disk weights added and removed with a standard hex tool (additional weight sets sold separately). Not only that, the RX Series boast interchangeable shafts and customizeable lie angles.
When we first heard of this feature, honestly, is sounded like a pain in the ass to have to worry about or adjust in on the fly, but that is far from reality. Two screws on the bottom of the putter loosen the shaft housing with a 1/4 turn, allowing you to move the shaft freely and adjust the angle as needed. All in all, the RX Series may sound more like a DeChambeau-like science experiment than something an average golfer would have in the bag, but the customization process takes about as long as it does to adjust the loft on your driver — and a lot more fun — so don’t let that be a deterrent. Sorry, lefties, the RX Series putters come RH only, in black or red.
Cure’s RX3 putter
While we’ve only had the chance to play those noted above, we can assume the same performance rings true throughout the company’s offerings. Cure putters — all of which are USGA conforming — come equipped with straight or offset shafts in standard lengths (custom lengths available by request), a branded Winn Pistol midsize grip and durable leather clubhead cover. The company also offers accessories and gear, as well as a trade-in program. Really, if you’re interested in making more gains on the green, you’d be remiss to not try a Cure putter, at the very least. With an optimized stroke using your own ideal weight, you my find yourself inching closer to that 36 or below number at the end of your round.
Depending on how you look at it, the new Tour’s been enjoying an exciting start to the calendar year, and it’s about to get even better. Over next 6 months, the golf world will be blessed with major tournament after major tournament (literally), keeping us satiated through August.
Here’s a quick break down of the major schedule in store — plan accordingly:
March — The Players Championship
2018 Winner: Web Simpson Dates: March 14 – 17 Course: TPC Sawgrass, Florida Broadcast: Golf Channel | NBC
Everyone’s favorite non major major, The Players Championship, celebrates 45 years in 2019. There has yet to be a back-to-back Players Champion; as of this writing Webb Simpson is sitting at 33/1 odds to be the first, according to betting-directory.com.
April — The Masters
2018 Winner: Patrick Reed Dates: April 11 – 14 Course: Agusta National, Georgia Broadcast: CBS | ESPN
The last several Masters Tournaments have been quite dramatic, with Spieth’s now infamous meltdown in 2017 and the tour’s favorite punching bag, Patrick Reed, joining the green jacket club last year. Here’s to another memorable weekend amongst the azaleas.
May — PGA Championship
2018 Winner: Brooks Koepka Dates: May 16 – 19 Course: Bethpage Black Course, New York Broadcast: CBS | TNT
Inevitable storylines sure to surface at the PGA Championship: How will Bethpage play hosting its first PGA Championship (foreshadowing the 2024 Ryder Cup)? Will this be the year Jordan Spieth caps his career Grand Slam? Will Tiger better his second place finish last year? … The list is endless.
June — U.S. Open
2018 Winner: Brooks Koepka Dates: June 13 – 16 Course: Pebble Beach, California Broadcast: FOX | FX1
The U.S. Open returns to Pebble Beach for a sixth time, but this year is a little more special; the iconic course is celebrating its 100th birthday. Koepka will look to add to his consecutive U.S. Open titles, but others have proven they can go low when the stakes are high, too — 65s are becoming a norm on the U.S. Open leaderboard.
July — The Open Championship
2018 Winner: Francesco Molinari Dates: 18 – 21 Course: Royal Portrush, Ireland Broadcast: Golf Channel | NBC
As the oldest, original major championship, it’s hard to find anything new to say about The Open. But 2019 does signify something of a special reconnection as the tournament returns to Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush for the first time in almost 70 years.
August — Tour Championship
2018 Winner: Tiger Woods Dates: August 22 – 25 Course: East Lake, Georgia Broadcast: Golf Channel | NBC
Though also not a major, the Tour Championship is A LOT more important in regards to the FedEx Cup. That’s because players who do not win the Tour Championship will no longer be able to claim the FedEx Cup title. According to a breakdown by CBSSports.com, players will come into the tournament with an assigned score based on their FedEx Cup rankings — the no.1 ranked player will begin at 10-under par, no.2 at 9-under, and so on to the bottom 5, whom will start at even par — setting the stage for a dramatic comeback victory or a total blowout to end the summer swing.