Black Jack’s Crossing that was once home to the Ambush Golf Course

The world’s only trans-national golf course at Lajitas, The Ultimate Hideout in Western Texas which had a bonus hole, 11a, which was neither a watering hole nor a tiebreaker, but an optional par one that plays into Mexico – an irretrievable drive across the Rio Grande River to an uretrievable green about 100 yards away was, very sadly, totally destroyed by Tropical Storm Lowell back in 2008.

The golf course was submerged by flood waters for more than a month. “The back nine was entirely flooded for four weeks,” said Terri Thate, a spokesperson for Lajitas and the resort’s reservation manager. “The devastation was amazing. I have lived here for years, and I had never seen anything like that before.”  The back nine of The Ambush course – which included the famed “international” hole that allowed players to tee up a shot in the United States and hit to a green in Mexico, and four holes on an island in the river, were damaged beyond repair. The flood waters destroyed the sophisticated irrigation system which used re-cycled water. When the flood waters drained away, the grass was burnt to a crisp.

Out of the devastation a new golf course was born: Black Jack’s Crossing.

An old Wild West military town, Lajitas was once General ‘Blackjack’ Pershing’s center of operations for tracking down Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. These days, the dusty outpost has been transformed into a beautiful gold oasis with fine dining, suites and private haciendas in the middle of the Texas badlands. You can hear about it for yourselves, courtesy of some advertising blurb:

With an average temperature of 70° year round, Lajitas is an ideal golfing destination though sadly it’s claim to an extreme golf course, and hence a place on our site, is no longer the case. However, this is still a fabulous golf course on a 27,000-acre private estate, surrounded by the nearly 1 million acres of Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park.

When employed for the original Ambush golf course, Roy Bechtol and Randy Russell, the Austen-based golf architects, were expecting to design a desert-styled course, but the owner of the estate had a different idea. He wanted an oasis and so “the slope over the whole layout falls only two feet,” confirmed Bechtol, thereby ensuring no natural barriers to stop the river from flooding the course. The new golf course, designed by Lanny Wadkins, would be an 18-hole desert-styled target course with dramatic elevation features – and Black Jack’s Crossing came into existence. The course, which had its grand opening in 2010, was shaped by Forrest Fezler, one-time U.S. Open runner-up. The course is said to be breathtakingly beautiful with mountain holes “scenic enough to have a wedding in,”  said Lajitas spokesman Stephen Dye, including a hole that features steam rising from a natural spring.

“I worked on the routing for The Boulders and Troon North and The Outlaw’s raw site is three times more majestic than those raw sites,” said Bechtol, a former baseball star at The University of Texas. “There is one spot where you can see 100 miles – 52 miles in one direction and 48 miles in the other direction.”

The 18-hole championship and 9-hole Executive length golf course has challenging fairways set against a rugged backdrop. There are seven breathtaking mountain holes and one spectacular desert mountain vista after another, the course itself is a literal work of art. “Some of these tee shots, you just go, ‘Wow!’” says course designer Lanny Wadkins, former CBS golf commentator and PGA Tour Star and recent Hall of Fame inductee states “on hole  four, it’s ‘Holy smokes.’ Then five is better than four and six is better than five, and it just keeps going.”

And so it rates a mention on our site along with our other extreme golf courses around the world.

While we’re discussing golf, I just thought if worth replaying Leif Olsen’s hole-in-one at the 2009 Canadian Open. If you haven’t seen it already it has to be seen to be believed…

Leif Olsen’s hole-in-one at the 2009 Canadian Open has to be seen to be believed…

How lucky was that? or extreme?

Nice little extreme car to drive away in too…

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