story and photos By Jason Bruno
The 18th green at "The Max"
Max A. Mandel was a successful Laredo businessman who had a deep love affair with his city. He
was proud of his city's multi-cultural heritage and dedicated 50 years to his community.
Mr.Mandel passed away in 2002, but his legacy lives on . . . his family decided to honor him by
donating 390 acres of his land (with spectacular views bordering the Rio Grande), a million dollars,
and water rights to build a world class golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones II. "The Max"
has been built not only as championship layout to attract golfers from Texas and beyond, but more
importantly to grow the game in the community of Laredo.
The Max A Mandel Municipal Golf Course in Laredo had a celebration last week commemorating the
opening of their new 9,000 sq ft clubhouse and introducing the new Robert Trent Jones II layout
to the golf media. Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez (pictured above with Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas) was
the guest of honor for the opening.
The new clubhouse
The back view of the new clubhouse
Located along the Rio Grande, "The Max" is situated on 270 acres.
The RTJ II design features 5 sets of tees that vary from 4,759 yards to 7,069 yards.
On the 454 yard dogleg right first hole, RTJ II tests the best players right out of the gate (from the back
tees). From the blue tees he eases you into the round where it plays only 347 yards.
The first fairway angles left to right towards the arroyo
The right fairway bunker frames the par 4 second hole
The 315 yard fourth hole, favor the right side, it's the best angle for the short approach.
If you go for the fourth green from the tee and pull your drive, this is what you'll face.
The 451 yard fifth starts with a blind tee shot, favor the right side here - the left edge of the bunker
is the ideal line here.
RTJ II didn't have to move much earth to create "The Max", here at the fifth, the contours blend
well with the native vegetation.
The shortest hole on the front nine is the par 3 sixth, at only 157 yards from the tips, the premium
here is finding the correct portion of this green . . . long will leave a severe downhill putt.
The 462 yard par 4 eighth plays straight into the prevailing wind, this brute will require your two best
knocks, even at two tees up it plays 418 yards.
The eighth green is large with subtle undulations, RTJ II designed the course to be challenging but also
very playable for the average golfer . . . you won't see much in the way of hazards or OB stakes at
The 210 yard ninth is the longest and toughest of the par 3's at the Max A Mandel Golf Course.
Also into the prevailing breeze, this green is slightly elevated and will repel anything that isn't
The 511 yard (blue tees) tenth (pictured above) was my favorite par 5 on the course. RTJ II's
splendid use of the varied terrain at "The Max" is displayed here on the 10th. The tee ball must thread
between the Mesquite trees that frame the downhill tee shot, this will position you in the narrow
valley facing an uphill semi-blind shot some 200+ yards away . . . a great chance to reach the green in
two. The putting surface is wide but shallow and tilts from left to right (Picture below).
Although reachable, the tenth green is well guarded with sand short and long.
The 167 yard par 3 twelfth is a perfect example of RTJ II and his design team's use of the land and the
existing tree canopy.
The one shotters at "The Max" are it's strength and the fifteenth might be the crown jewel, at only
138 yards from the tips, this beauty plays across a small canyon, and although it's the shortest hole
at "The Max", it requires proper club selection - long is dead, and short is a tough par save. Depending
on tee and pin placement, the tall Mesquite tree can pose an obstacle to mishit shots.
view from the front tee on the 15th
The scenic vistas along the Rio Grande (from the 16th tee).
Clay bunkers are the norm in this region - the fairway bunker on the 422 yard sixteenth shown here.
The seventeenth is a 90 degree dogleg right that plays downwind, blow your tee shot over the boundary
fence and you'll be left with a short/mid iron into this par 5.
Perhaps the most prevalent arroyo at "The Max" is here at the 18th hole, Mark Voss of RTJ II designs
disclosed to us that they lengthened the arroyo here into the fairway landing area not only for aesthetics
but also to create a more challenging tee shot - the left side can be carried by the longest hitters, and
leaves the shortest approach. Most players would be wise to favor the right side of this uneven fairway.
The approach from the right side of the fairway on the 426 yard finisher
"The Max" has already garnered acclaim, being named the 40th best Muni in the U.S for 2013
Special thanks to the City of Laredo, OnCourse Strategies, and Jason Veretto from Back9
Network (for enduring 36 holes in the 100+ temps on media day).
To learn more about the Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course: http://www.themaxlaredo.com/