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Course Spotlight: Moody Gardens delivers exciting golf on the Texas coast

Golf on the gulf is a beautiful and breezy affair, and one we might typically associate more with Florida or Mississippi or Alabama. Texas does have a handful of plays right on the coast, and none are more convenient to a major metro area than Moody Gardens Golf Course in Galveston, Texas.

Moody Gardens is a well-known attraction on this barrier historic island about an hour’s drive from downtown Houston. It’s also the only publicly accessible tee time in the destination. This Texas golf resort features a legendary aquarium as well as tropical rainforest. Just keep an eye out as you arrive on the island for the three glass pyramids.

Not long after they expanded their property to include a hotel and convention center, Moody Gardens acquired the existing municipal golf course located on the other side of the small airport and invested over $16 million into an extensive rebuild of the course to make it drier and more fun to play. Opened in 2008, golf course architects Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy transformed the old layout into something very links inspired with rolling and rippling fairways and with the gulf sea breeze blowing in off the gulf. They also installed wall-to-wall paspalum turf, which is more saltwater tolerant and also promotes a fun ground game (recommended in the wind around here). Besides a few forced carries, most greens are receptive from lower-running ground shots. Three par 5s on the front side, including a fairly gentle opening par 5, make for some great birdie opportunities. As for par 3s, their distances vary greatly, but your best bet to hit it stiff is on the chip-shot par-3 17th:

The 18-hole golf course winds through bayous from start to finish and the back nine runs out and back along a narrow stretch of land between the bayou and airport. There are a lot of water holes and some forced carries throughout, so be warned. Hopefully you can make your birdie or two before the 18th. It’s a long par 4 that doglegs left and requires a long carry over water on the second shot. You’ve been warned!

Facilities here include the small Pelican Grill that recently assumed new management and serves breakfast and lunch. There is a full driving range and two practice greens, one of which has a practice bunker. After golf, you’re just minutes from Moody Gardens attractions, beaches and historic downtown Galveston.

Thanks in part to affordable rates for a resort course, Moody Gardens has made the GolfPass Golfers’ Choice awards for the state of Texas every single yea (No. 7 in 2021).

“Great overall conditions, great conditioned tee boxes, greens are great,” wrote Garcia27 in a GolfPass review in December, 2020. “Lunch: very fresh, good course food…we ordered ahead & overall good. Drink cart was well stocked, cold beer & the Rita’s were good. Staff upon checking us in was very accommodating to our 4some plus 1 rider. The outdoor music playing in the chipping area sets a good vibe for the round, great job guys! We will be back!”

Moody Gardens

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