Many Houstonians know Guadalajara because it’s the jumping-off point to an adventure in Tequila. From this bustling city – it’s Mexico’s second largest, after Mexico City – you can hire a driver and travel about 90 minutes northwest to the agave-studded hillsides and sample your way through the area, tasting the products of both large and boutique tequila producers. But don’t get excited, that’s another article.
This story is about the Guadalajara Country Club. At the time of its founding in 1909, it truly was a “country” club, being far outside the city. But as with the River Oaks Country Club here in Houston, the city developed and grew around the club until, today, it is considered centrally located within the city.
If you’re a golfer, you know the Guadalajara Country Club is the stuff of legends. LPGA champion Lorena Ochoa Reyes, for example, grew up next door to the club’s 10th tee and learned to play here. Athletically gifted youngsters (photo below) are still regularly groomed here for careers in golf.
But it’s more than just a golf course. In 2011, for example, when the Pan American Games’ equestrian competitions were held in Guadalajara to qualify riders and horses for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the country club completely overhauled its stables and riding ring to refashion itself as a world-class venue for horsemanship. Stop by the riding school any time, and you’ll see riders working on dressage (photo below) as well as jumps and vaults. (What is equestrian vaulting? See here.)
On the tennis side, there are both clay and hard courts, and the club hosts many international tournaments. There is a regulation-size soccer field, plus multiple pools.
Unlike some private clubs, this one is particularly family friendly. Children are not allowed in the main clubhouse dining room, for example, but there is a large family pool with its own terrace restaurant (photo below). Instruction in golf, soccer, swimming, riding and tennis are all available to kids.
A few more things impressed this first-time visitor to the club. One is its healthy financial footing. Memberships are strictly controlled and work on a legacy system.
When the club faced criticism for using city water to irrigate the grounds and flowers that are enjoyed by just a few hundred entitled citizens, the club responded by developing and building a water-recycling plant on the grounds – and turned off the city spigot. Today, all wastewater generated by showers, dishwashers and toilets is processed and used to keep the landscape healthy.
There is also a roof over the Olympic-size pool that doubles as a passive electricity generator (photo below).
Finally, there is the open-air clubhouse restaurant – a splendid example of modernist design, looking onto the golf course and lavishly accented with hanging plants – which was built in 1941. The view from your table of the tree-lined course rambling along the narrow valley floor is thrilling. Over one stand of trees to the left, there are residential high-rises in the distance; look to the right of the trees, and the Sierra Madre Mountains are on view.
Interesting note: Although there are rooms available to members to rent for special events, weddings are not allowed at Guadalajara Country Club. They are thought to be too disruptive for the venue and the members’ comfort.
If you are a member of the River Oaks Country Club, you can arrange an outing at the Guadalajara Country Club via a reciprocal agreement. Here are a few details about the golf course.
Number of holes 18
Date of construction October 1941
Architect John Breadamus, a Texan who also laid out Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth as well as our own Memorial Park golf course
Length 6,910 yards
Type of pastures in fairway and rough Kikuyu
Type of grass on greens Bent
Rivers and lakes Río de la Culebra, lakes in holes 4, 11, 13 and 17