Modern Classics: TXO

This Texas terror—formerly known as Wolf Point Ranch—puts a premium on strategy, pinpoint play, and one’s skill at wrangling an invitation

When Al Stanger contacted Mike Nuzzo about creating a personal golf course near Carancahua Bay, about two hours southwest of Houston on the Gulf Coast, Nuzzo assumed the Texas rancher was really looking for something more like “two greens at either end of a fairway” or “a pasture golf kind of thing.”

But Stanger had something else in mind. He wanted a full-on, 18-hole course. A hard one. One where he’d never have to waste time hunting for balls. And where he’d always have a home-course advantage.

5th hole

Nuzzo thought it over. “So, I’m like, big open areas where you have a home-field advantage, and it’s windswept, with no elevation changes across the property, just a cool creek running through it, and everything else is just flat. Sounds like the Old Course.”

That was the vision for Wolf Point Ranch—which came to life in 2008 as the offspring of a wealthy Texan who operated his own backhoe and an aerospace engineer-turned-golf-course-architect who’d suddenly gotten the chance to design his first solo course.

Nuzzo made the most of the opportunity, creating what he calls “just one cool playground.”

In the years that followed, Wolf Point Ranch achieved mythical status, at one point being ranked The Lone Star State’s No. 1 course. Few people other than Stanger and his buddies got to play it, but those who did raved.

When Houstonian David Wuthrich first heard about Wolf Point, the seasoned course rater in him was skeptical. “There’s nothing down there but cattle fields and some hunting and fishing. So I wasn’t expecting a whole lot. But I was just overwhelmed. It was very simplistic, but very strategic. With the angles of the greens, you can be within 20 yards of the green and have an impossible shot.”

15th hole

A par-71 layout designed to play firm and fast, the course stretches to 6,683 yards and features multiple tee boxes on each hole—but no tee markers. Winner of the previous hole picks. Again, strategy.

“The course has, like, 90 acres of fairway,” Nuzzo says, “which is ridiculous. But you have to be in the right part of the fairway. And every green is biased. So it plays quite different from day to day, depending on the hole locations and the wind. You could be 10 yards from someone else in the middle of a fairway and have a terrible angle to a hole location. Like, you’re dead.”

Nuzzo’s clever green designs feature tiers and undulations that test your short game, too, as at the par-three 11th, where he put a little “catcher’s mitt” shape just short of the green. Or the 7th green, which has a valley running through it. Or the 16th, with its infinity edge hidden at the back that runs to the creek. Or the 50-yard-deep 15th green, “a long, skinny lima bean with two creases in the left side that you can’t see from the tee.” The list goes on.

Sadly, Al Stanger passed away in 2016, and the course is now owned by the parent company of Dormie Network. It has a new name—TXO, which is the FAA code for the airstrip that Stanger and his aviator wife, Dianna, built next to the course. Cottages are going up alongside the 18th fairway and some cart paths added, but its new owner says there’s no current plan to incorporate it into Dormie Network. It will remain an exclusive, bucket-list experience by invitation only. Which is a shame, really. It’s a course that people who fly commercial would certainly appreciate too.

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