By RJ Smiley
Lajitas Golf Resort is wedged between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park, overlooking the Rio Grande River. For centuries Native American and early Mexican peoples crossed the Rio Grande at Lajitas where the river bottom is firm and smooth, carved through solid rock. In the early 1900s, Pancho Villa used the crossing at Lajitas to raid the settlers and miners moving into Texas. To protect the citizens in 1916, the U.S. government sent “Black Jack” Pershing, US Army General and 10,000 soldiers to Texas. Pershing’s soldiers used the crossing and chased Pancho Villa 350 miles into Mexico.
The elusive Villa was never captured. Black Jack’s Crossing Golf Course, named after Pershing, is the nucleus of the massive 27,000-acre resort. The golf course designed by Lanny Wadkins opened to rave reviews. In 2011 The Dallas Morning News named Black Jack’s Crossing the “#1 Course You Can Play In Texas” while Golfweek Magazine called it the “Best New Course in Texas. Photographs cannot reproduce the raw beauty of this series of 18 individual oasis carved into the Spartan high desert wilderness; each oasis is connected to the next only by a cart path. Stretching to over 7,400 yards at the tips, The Crossing gives any golfer a sensational golf experience. The problem many golfers havesomewhere during the round a golf club is replaced by a camerabut againphotos don’t tell whole the story.
In reality Lajitas is a very small city (less than 100) with an historic “Old West” flavor. The Trading Post, built in 1899 serves as the pro shop for Black Jack’s Crossing and doubles as the Longhorn Cattle Museum. The river crossing city has always been a rowdy fun loving place where most conversations began with a beer. Therefore it seems only logical that the border town would have a beer drinker for its mayor. Lajitas has had a beer drinking goat for its mayor since 1986. Clay Henry and his dependents (current mayor, Clay More Henry) have entertained visitors and drank beer with them for years. The lodging options are endless at Lajitas, there are 101 lodging units, each uniquely designed and furnished with its own “Wild West” flavor. For those who want to bring their home with them, the RV park offers everything. The resort has a sparkling pool for sun bathing or cooling off after any of the resort’s outdoor experiences.
There are four dining options, but nothing close to formal. New General Manager John Price returns to his West Texas rootshead professional at Lost Creek Country Club in Austin from 1981 – 1987with a few new ideas for Lajitas. The spring of 2015 will mark the opening of the longest zip line in the US. Thrilled riders will fly down the sun drenched mountains for almost 1,000 feet while white water rafters will experience the same adrenaline rush on a rafting adventure. Lajitas took the first step to becoming a Premier Live Music Destination in October, hosting the first Teringua Festival. Price, seeking more utilization of the newly resurfaced runway, has contracted with charter air services from Dallas or Houston to shuttle groups of 20 or more golfers to Lajitas. “Every package is custom made! Golfers can play golf all day long; they can play until their hands bleed,” laughed Price. Service began in November. As Architectural Digest claims, Lajitas has been transformed into a luxury destination whose guests can enjoy the same breath taking scenery that persuaded Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 to authorize the creation of Big Bend National Park.