Texas to a Tee
Briggs Ranch, a championship-level private course in our Elevated Lifestyle partner Dormie Network, has been consistently ranked among the top 20 layouts in Texas since opening in 2001.
Lying just 20 miles west of downtown San Antonio, Briggs Ranch Golf Club was opened in 2001 when the original developer, Gil Hodge, hired legendary golf course architect Tom Fazio to build the 260-acre private destination course. Located in the heart of Texas Hill Country on a site that was formerly a cattle ranch, Fazio’s course design reflects the continuous motion of the hilly landscape mixed with wildflower prairies.
“The golf course is huge in scale and the green complexes and bunkering provide plenty of challenge,” explained Mark Ruhga, Chief Operating Officer at Dormie Network. “Finally, the hospitality of South Texas is second to none and fantastic weather throughout the winter months makes it a perfect escape for our members and guests.”
Briggs Ranch has been consistently ranked among the top 20 layouts in Texas since opening in 2001. In addition to the championship-level course and an 18-acre practice facility, a full-service clubhouse was opened in 2007. Acquired by Dormie Network in 2017, the course immediately underwent millions in capital improvement projects.
Under ownership by Dormie Network, Briggs Ranch continues to improve offerings to guests, from course play to onsite amenities to the celebrated food and beverage program. The characteristic hospitality and attention to detail present at all Dormie Network clubs boost the capacities of this private southern retreat. With the ability to remain open year-round, Briggs Ranch stands out as a dependable partner in the Lone Star State, especially in the winter.
Exceptional hospitality can be found in every inch of the 15,000-square-foot clubhouse at Briggs Ranch. Spanish-style tiling and a terra-cotta roof lend a Southwestern accent as guests enter a lounge with walk-out patio overlooking the 18th green. As guests marvel at the wrought-iron chandelier in the rotunda-style entryway, they’ll find a beverage in their hand before requesting one. The Clubhouse offers two dining rooms with the capacity to serve roughly 300 guests at a time. One dining room features an intimate chef’s
table where eight or fewer guests can enjoy multiple courses with wine pairings.
The seasonal menu changes frequently but guests come back for the quail poppers – a Central Texas favorite – made with quail-stuffed, bacon-wrapped jalapeño, basted with signature Texas barbecue sauce and topped with pimento cheese and red onion jam. For larger events, guests may indulge in Chef Josh’s special whole-roasted pig. A popular dessert item comes in the form of the bourbon donut, made with real Garrison Brothers Bourbon. Whiskey aficionados should also take note of the bourbon bar, offering more than 40 hard-to-find liquors such as Blanton’s, Eagle Rare, and W. L. Weller.
Briggs Ranch is known to have some of the finest and most allocated bourbon in the San Antonio area. “The rare bourbons we offer are emblematic of the kind of experiences we deliver; something that cannot be replicated anywhere else,” said Tyler Thorson, Food and Beverage Director.
Thorson explained that at the end of a round, golfers can expect to be greeted with a signature drink called Ranch Water. The uniquely Texan blend of tequila, lime juice and Topo Chico (sparkling mineral water) serves as a simple but powerful reminder of the on-demand hospitality offered at Briggs Ranch. Thorson also noted that if a guest is seen enjoying a certain beverage on the course, arrangements will be made to stock more of the same kind inside the guest’s casita. The goal is for guests to have what they need, before they need it.
“Our guests could stay and eat at many other establishments,” Thorson added, “But at Briggs Ranch and at other Dormie locations, our guests receive an experience unlike any other. From warm hospitality to anticipatory service, we deliver every single time and our guests always return for more.”
In the morning before a round of golf, guests will wake to find carts parked outside their door, stocked with sunscreen, water, snacks and anything else to improve their day. At the end of a round in the Texan sun, guests return to their casitas to find their rooms cleaned, beds made, and bars restocked. For corporate gatherings, custom apparel might appear on a bedside table as a souvenir gift. Transitioning from the course to on-site accommodations, Thorson wants guests to feel pampered every step of the way.
Guests can find six on-site casitas and 24 master suites nestled into the tree line to the left of the first hole, within walking distance of the clubhouse. Stepping inside, members are greeted by classic Southwestern accents, a fireplace and lounge in the common area, and a walk-out to relax after wrapping up a match.
On top of the Tom Fazio design, Briggs Ranch shines for many reasons. In terms of play, the defining characteristics of the course appear in the Zeon Zoysia tees and fairways and immaculately sculpted bunkers. However, Briggs Ranch also stakes a claim as the Southern-most American course to offer bent grass greens, providing a world-class putting surface for year-round enjoyment.
An expertly-executed agronomical plan honors the intent of the architect while offering undulating Zeon Zoysia fairways. More than a few golfers have admitted a pang of guilt when making a divot in the turf, which at times can feel artificial in its lush perfection.
“The Tom Fazio design makes the golfer strategize how they’ll attack the hole. On the agronomy side, we have to look at the slopes around the greens and bunkers to ensure Fazio’s intent is maintained,” explained Clint Tolbert, Chief Agronomy Officer at Dormie Network. “Sometimes on a slope, a difference of two degrees can completely change the hole for better or worse – so we always try to honor the architect while offering championship-caliber greens. The slopes and penalty areas of the course – while menacing to the golfer, require a lot of labor and detail to maintain.”
Nick Graves, Briggs Ranch Director of Agronomy, and his team must overcome obstacles put forth by the Texas heat and very dry, arid summers. In 2019, Better Billy Bunkers were installed to offer better irrigation to maintain the course’s infamous sand traps. To keep the bunkers in top shape, custom sand was shipped in 130-ton train cars from California. The artificially-made sand contains a microscopic structure that allows for compaction, which prevents a ball from sinking into it.
A cherry on top of the fairways and beautiful bunkering at Briggs Ranch comes in the form of bent grass greens. While difficult to grow and maintain as far south as San Antonio, bent grass offers the finest putting surface in the world, but that’s the caliber of play that players have come to expect across the network.
“Course agronomics is a kind of precision agriculture,” Tolbert explained. “We’re meticulous about the amount of fertilizer we lay down. We take notes, we research, and we adapt to what Mother Nature throws at us. For our guests, we want the quality of this course to be a guarantee. Our agronomic plan warrants complex planning and ingenuity, and the result should be a memorable experience on the course.”
With the agronomic plan in motion, guests will only be concerned with avoiding the various obstacles such as bunkers, steep slopes and under-appreciated oaks that line the course. The hilly terrain, in combination with natural barriers, makes for a challenging round of golf. Five different tee settings allow golfers of various skill levels to enjoy a round together.
Briggs Ranch also offers full-service club fitting and pro shop, locker rooms, and an 18-acre practice facility with multiple down-range targets, multiple teeing grounds, a two-tiered, bent grass putting green, close-in and short-iron bunkers, and pitching greens.
FLY SOUTH FOR THE WINTER
The most important aspect of a stay at Briggs Ranch is the world-class, anticipatory hospitality. Staff seek to deliver an experience where guests never have to think about wanting or needing anything. When that happens, nothing but pure contentment follows.
“Briggs Ranch was created as a true golf club, which with the addition of the casitas, provides the perfect backdrop for the Dormie Network experience,” Ruhga explained. “Scenic views of Texas Hill Country, amazing regional cuisine, attentive staff and pleasant weather year-round make this course a complementary fit in our network.”
Right now is the perfect time to pack your bags and fly south – warm weather, welcoming course conditions and a refreshing dose of Southern hospitality await.