With unprecedented growth transforming the economic and cultural complexions of cities all across Texas, it’s become a fun hobby to check in and see the changes. Seemingly overnight, the Bryan-College Station region has become one of the nation’s leading centers for biomedical and biopharmaceutical research.
Throughout this decade, big-name biotech companies have flocked to the area’s booming BioCorridor and the ripple effect- rising home values, new retail, commercial and residential infrastructure- is evident all around.
While the Texas A&M University campus continues to expand and be revitalized, the ATLAS development, which surrounds the Traditions Club golf and residential enclave is frequently singled out as the community spearheading Bryan’s giant leap into the future.
ATLAS has allocated 200 acres around Traditions Club for mixed-use development designed to bring top biomedical companies and their employees a lifestyle-driven “small town” in which living close to the office can still mean living in your dream community.
For alumni and devotees of all things Aggie, Traditions Club is the luxury playground of their dreams, complete with maroon and white golf carts and a well-appointed clubhouse filled with masterfully-curated tributes to the university’s deepest campus traditions and finest on-field achievements. You don’t have to be an Aggie to sense the deep-running history and pride.
“This place is Disneyland for A&M grads and even if you’re not, it’s rare to find a club that feels like a destination resort every day you’re here,” says director of golf Bill Slade, himself a Texas A&M graduate.
In addition to the acclaimed 7,121-yard championship course designed by Jack Nicklaus and Jack Nicklaus II, Traditions Club is also home to a vibrant resort-caliber swim center with aquatic features for every member of the family and cozy outdoor bar and casual dining space.
To truly make the club a desirable overnight destination, Founders Cottages, Gameday Cottages and Casitas (in two-, three- or four bedroom floorplans) can be booked by guests or purchased to be enjoyed several times a year.
For golfing members and the Texas A&M men’s and women’s golf teams, it would be tough to suggest a feature or amenity that’s missing from this property. The golf teams have their own dedicated clubhouse and multi-green practice park while members enjoy an expansive double-ended driving range, academy and a regulation-spec par-4 practice hole– a literal 19th Hole.
Teeing off on the first hole of the par-72 Traditions Club, you disappear into a thickly-wooded oasis, lined and crossed by the omnipresent Turkey Creek and its many tributaries. “The first thing people notice is the rolling terrain,” Slade says. “The land has much more rise and fall than people expect and shots require a lot of calculation when you’ve maybe got the ball below your feet and a carry over water with a lofted club in your hand.”
With at least a dozen forced carries over hazards, it’s easy to see how the course earned its intimidating 151 slope rating (from the farthest-back Maroon Tees). Slade is quick to point out, though, these aren’t all severe forced carries. “In some cases, you’ll have 50 to 60 yards from the far edge of the hazard to the front of the green. If you do the right math and don’t play too aggressively, you can work your way around this course really well.”
The routing feels intimate thanks to mature thickets of imposing hardwoods throughout the lush pastureland once owned by fiery former NFL referee Red Cashion. “There aren’t many cases where you’re playing a hole and you even see another hole,” Slade says. Holes 8 and 17 are exceptions as they’re joined by an ample double green complex situated in a quiet hollow.
Eight is the second par 5 on the opening nine and like, the 539-yard, par-5 fifth, it features a ribbon of creek running just short of the green. “The par 5s tend to be three-shotters for most players, but the college players can have a go at some of them in two. As tough as the course can play, there’s actually been discussion about potentially add length to the back tee areas.”
Even short par-4s like the well-bunkered 354-yard sixth and the 381-yard 13th must be played carefully as creek front each green, and 13 features a significant bend to the right on the approach. The par-4 finishing hole (444 yards from the tips) presents perhaps the toughest approach shot on the course as the green is protected by bunkers all around and creek crossing near the edge of the putting surface. It’s a thrilling venue for tournament contestants.
Traditions Club hosts the collegiate Aggie Invitational annually and has been tabbed multiple times to host Regional rounds of the men’s and women’s NCAA Championships. “You get a great field in the Aggie invitational because players know if they can play well here, they can play well anywhere,” Slade says.
If you want to experience the true essence of Traditions Club, visit during a Texas A&M home football weekend. Festivities begin on Friday with fine dining, special events and even some late-night Yell Practice. On game day, shuttles take you from your casita or Gameday Cottage to the game and back. Sundays are all about relaxing on the links or by the pool.
“This club really fits the culture of what being an Aggie is all about. It’s unpretentious, people really get to unwind here among fun people. Members constantly tell us ‘this is exactly what I wanted Bryan College Station to feel like when I came back.’”
Slade hints that Gameday Cottages sold out, plans for a tennis facility coming together that ATLAS is far from finished making Traditions Club as “amenitized” as it can be. “Our ownership is second to none,” he says. “They’ve got an incredible long-term vision for this club and for the surrounding development. More and more, people are telling us they can’t wait to retire and move their business and their families here.”
If you think you’re ready to be a part of the growing legacy at Traditions Club, visit traditionsclub.com to learn more.
By Carl Mickelson
OTL Golf Writer