The Sweetens Cove architects have a new course in Texas — and it’s a ton of fun

Here’s why Red Feather Golf and Social Club in Lubbock, Texas was the favorite course GOLF staffer Zephyr Melton played in 2023.

The post The Sweetens Cove architects have a new course in Texas — and it’s a ton of fun appeared first on Golf.

Here’s why Red Feather Golf and Social Club in Lubbock, Texas was the favorite course GOLF staffer Zephyr Melton played in 2023.

The post The Sweetens Cove architects have a new course in Texas — and it’s a ton of fun appeared first on Golf.

At GOLF.com, travel — and playing golf — is a part of the gig. Here, as we count down the final days of 2023, is a look at some of the favorite courses our staffers played over the past 12 months.

ICYMI: A stunner in the Utah desert
ICYMI: A central Wisconsin hidden gem
ICYMI: A Walker Cup host with bent grass greens (in Scotland!)
ICYMI: A golf course — and community center — in West Palm
ICYMI: A bucket-list course with a secret souvenir

Golf — like most things — is a little bit different in West Texas. It’s got its place, to be sure, but there are far bigger priorities than whacking a little white ball around. Most public courses in Lubbock, the town of 250,000 where I grew up, seldom require a tee time to get on. Perhaps it’s the whipping winds that keep the courses clear, or the fact that football will always be king. Whatever the reason, golf isn’t at top of mind for most on the South Plains.

Heck, the only reason I got started in the game was pure coincidence. I played basketball most of my childhood, and I fully expected to pursue that passion through high school. But when I entered ninth grade standing just over five-feet tall, I decided to retire from the hardwood. My childhood best friend started playing golf competitively around the same time, and he invited me to tag along on that pursuit. One thing led to another, I fell in love with the game and now here I am.

Where I Played: This charming links course sits right in the middle of West Texas

By: Zephyr Melton

Golf hasn’t grown a ton in Lubbock since I left, but I always make it a point to bring my clubs back home with me anytime I visit. It’s typically so I can play the courses that helped me fall in love with the game (like this one!), but on my most recent visit, I got a chance to check out Lubbock’s newest course — Red Feather Golf and Social Club.

The course — designed by contemporary architects Rob Collins and Tad King, the brains behind Sweetens Cove — was built on an old cotton field south of town. But don’t let the site’s previous topography fool you; the course has more personality than just about any in Texas.

During my recent trip to Lubbock, I ventured out to Red Feather for my first look at the new course. Walking away, it was one of my favorite courses I played in 2023. Here’s what it was like.

red feather golf and social club with sky behind it
Red Feather Golf and Social Club opened in the fall of 2023. Courtesy

Wide-open golf

When I rolled up to Red Feather the first time, club president J.J. Killeen (a former PGA Tour player with deep roots in the area) greeted me in the parking lot. “I’ll take you out there so you don’t get lost,” he said. I didn’t see how that would be possible, but after playing a few holes, I understood what he meant. From just about every spot on the property, you can see the entire course — all 135 acres of it. Tee boxes bleed into fairways all the way up to the greens, with only bunkers and barrancas breaking up the swaths of zoysia.

If I were out there alone, I almost certainly would’ve teed off going at the wrong green at least once. But therein lies the charm of the layout — it gives you options. There’s no one correct path to the hole. It has a choose-your-own adventure feel and gives players a chance to get creative. The club plans to plant some trees around the property, which will help with aim points off the tees, but it won’t rob the course of the variety of options available to players.

Keep your Texas wedge handy

Red Feather has some serious green complexes. They’re big, bold and fast. Killeen told me they were rolling right around 14 the day I played, although they’ll likely settle down around 12 most days. “We can’t have people putting off greens all day,” he said. After a loop around the course, it seems he wasn’t kidding. If you’re in the wrong place above the hole, your ball better hit the cup — otherwise it may never stop rolling.

Those bold contours also allow for some imaginative shot-making. If you know which slopes to aim for, you can funnel the ball toward the flag. Flinging the ball up in the air aiming for the slopes isn’t a requirement, though. (And in the winds of West Texas, it’s not suggested, either.) With just about the entire course made up of tightly mown grass, you can use your flatstick almost anywhere. They call it a Texas wedge for a reason.

Prepare for variety

King-Collins Golf isn’t known for their conventionality, and Red Feather is a testament to that. The course features both the shortest par 3 (No. 17, 99 yards) and longest par 5 (No. 14, 721 yards) in the entire state, and there are plenty other thought-provoking holes.

The 16th, a drivable par 4 that begins the closing stretch, might look like a pushover on paper, but it plays as anything but. Leave your lay-up in the wrong spot, or hit it in the wrong greenside bunker from the tee, and you’ll make a big number in a hurry.

red feather golf and social club masterplan
The master plan for Red Feather Golf and Social Club. King-Collins Golf

No. 11, a mammoth par 4 that stretches over 500 yards, requires a fair bit of thought — and a good bit of power, too. Get ready for a challenge when you reach the putting surface as well. The double green, which it shares with No. 8, is one of the largest on property. Hit it in the wrong spot and you’ll be lucky to walk away with just a three-putt.

Some holes are more intriguing than others, but each has its own personality — and a variety of ways to attack it.

God’s country

Red Feather (like most country clubs) won’t be cheap to join, but don’t let a hefty price tag make you believe it’s a stuffy place. Quite the opposite, actually. There’s no dress code at Red Feather — you can go out in swim trunks and flip flops if your heart so desires. Music blaring from carts is typical, and playing in a six-some isn’t unusual. Killeen, a native Californian who relocated to Lubbock as a teenager, likes to call West Texas “God’s country.” And with all the fun you can have at Red Feather, it’s hard to disagree with him.

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