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A Publication of the National Golf Foundation

Questions, Answers and Insights for Everyone Interested in the Business of Golf

Texas Opens First New Public Golf Course in Six Years
Kissing Tree Golf Club is the Centerpiece of a Boomer-Focused Community

by Erik Matuszewski

October 2018

New course construction is understandably limited today in the U.S., which has several thousand more golf courses than the next 10 best-supplied countries in the world combined.

That makes the opening of the Kissing Tree Golf Club in the Texas Hill Country of San Marcos notable — especially since it’s Texas’s first brand new 18-hole public course in six years.

A daily fee layout designed by Texas resident Gary Stephenson, Kissing Tree Golf Club is part of a Baby Boomer-focused community located between San Antonio and Austin. It’s managed by Troon Golf, which is overseeing the course operations and agronomy along with the clubhouse, golf shop retail and food and beverage operations. Troon operates 218 18-hole equivalents in the U.S., with 130 of those offering daily fee play.

The 18th hole from above at Kissing Tree, which is being managed by Troon.

Kissing Tree is just the second new standalone 18-hole course to open this year in the United States, joining TPC Colorado. Mammoth Dunes also opened as the second course at the Sand Valley Resort in Wisconsin, while Arcadia Bluffs and Sweetgrass — both in Michigan — opened second courses this year.

The NGF’s facility database shows six other 18-hole courses under construction in the U.S. while numerous other facilities are working on additions to existing layouts. Two of the other new course construction projects are also underway in Texas, which ranks fifth nationally in the total number of golf facilities behind only Florida, California, New York and Michigan.

Kissing Tree is a 6,600-yard, par-72 course that incorporates the natural slopes and contours of the Texas Hill Country landscape into its fairways and greens. It features multiple sets of tees for players of varying ability along with a short game practice facility, extensive practice range and a practice putting green.

“From drivable par 4s that incorporate risk-reward water hazards around the green to reachable par 5s, golfers will have plenty of chances to make birdies and eagles,” says club general manager Josh Clay.

The exterior of the Kissing Tree master-planned community.

Additionally, Kissing Tree has already earned certification as a Signature Program facility with Audubon International. The conservation program was created to help golf courses protect the environment, including wildlife and habitat management, and adhere to sustainable resource management principles.

Kissing Tree is a planned 3,200-home community for adults 55 and over, with homes that range in price from $285,000 to $500,000. The public golf course serves as the centerpiece of the community, which derives its name from Sam Houston’s 1857 gubernatorial speech in front of a mighty oak tree in San Marcos. According to local legend, Houston kissed several of the female attendees under the tree.

The last new 18-hole public course to open in Texas prior to Kissing Tree? The NGF’s comprehensive facility database shows it was the Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course in Laredo in 2012.

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Erik Matuszewski

Erik is the Editorial Director for the NGF. Before joining the National Golf Foundation, he spent more than two decades with Bloomberg News, both as a writer and editor, with a focus on sports business and the golf industry. The New Jersey resident has also written about golf for outlets that include Forbes, LINKS and the Met Golfer.

NGF Takeaways

  • The opening of the Kissing Tree Golf Club in Texas is particularly notable because it’s the state’s first brand new 18-hole public course in six years.
  • New course construction remains limited in the golf-rich U.S. market, which boasts over 14,500 golf facilities. The next 10 best-supplied golf nations in the world (when it comes to courses) are Canada, Japan, England, Australia, Germany, France, Scotland, Sweden, South Africa and South Korea. Together, those countries have approximately 11,500 golf facilities.
  • Kissing Tree is the centerpiece of a planned 3,200-home community for adults 55 and over, but is open to daily public play.