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20120607 Martin Valley Golf lg-16PALMVIEW — It’s been said that golf’s popularity is due to the fact that it combines two favorite American pastimes: Taking long walks and hitting things with a stick. That may or may not be true, but there is certainly no denying how popular the game of golf is across the country. So popular in fact that, according to a National Golf Foundation study, there were over 25 million golfers in the U.S. in 2011.

Golf’s popularity is certainly not lost on the many Rio Grande Valley residents who play golf on courses across South Texas on a regular basis, specifically, the Martin Valley Ranch Golf Course in Palmview.

Situated on land that was purchased over three decades ago by Jack Martin, Martin Valley Ranch Golf Course (MVRGC) is a 27-hole championship course with a par 72 on the first 18 holes and a par 36 on the back nine.

According to Martin’s grandson and course manager Nigel Carter, the golf course came to be as the result of one of the most devastating acts of nature ever to hit the Valley’s citrus industry, the big freeze of Christmas 1983.

“My grandfather came down to the Valley in the late 70’s when all this used to be citrus. Then in 1983 it froze and he lost everything,” Carter said. “He had to figure out something else to do. He started with one RV park and a nine hole course. That went well, so he added another nine holes to make it 18.

Over the years Martin Valley Ranch has undergone many changes. One of the most notable of these took place nine years ago when another nine holes were added to the existing 18, making the business one of the few 27-hole golf courses in the Valley.

“Shary is 27 holes and Palmview used to be 27 holes many years ago, but they let one of them go and now it’s just 18,” explained Carter.

More recently, the focus at Martin Valley has been on improving the condition of the course.

“A few years back if somebody came out here and saw the course in the condition it was in they probably wouldn’t want to come back,” Carter confessed. “We’ve worked really hard on improving the condition of the course and making it a lot more playable.”

As a way of promoting the recent improvements, the management is offering a round of golf and the use of a cart free of charge each Thursday during in June.

Pat Scheck, a golfer from Mercedes who recently visited Martin Valley to take advantage of the free golf day, liked what she saw.

“The golf course here is very nice,” she said. “The price is right even when it’s not free. It was only $21 with the cart for 18 holes.”

Charles Fisher is another golfer that recently took advantage of a free golf Thursday. Fisher said that he and his golf partner George Rimes usually play elsewhere, but that the free golf day was too good of an offer to pass up.

“We mostly play at Seven Oaks, which is called Meadow Creek now,” he said. “We’re here today because it’s free. We normally pay between $22 and $24 with the cart.”

When asked what he thought about the course, Fisher said he was pleased with the fairways and greens.

“We will definitely be back,” he said.

McAllen resident Arnold Segovia has been playing golf at MVRGC for 10 years, and was among the golfers teeing up a free round of golf on a recent Thursday.

“They’ve done a lot of maintenance work on this golf course,” he noted. “This is actually one of my favorite golf courses in the Valley.”

With a 27-hole championship course, a well-stocked pro shop, a grill and a dining room that seats 120 people, Martin Valley is more than just a golf course. It is also a venue for hosting tournaments, outings and special events.

“Anybody and everybody that wants to have a tournament is more than welcome to have it here,” Carter said. “From fundraisers to charity events, or even just outings for big companies, we’ll work with them to get food and drinks if they need them or if they need help in any way I’ll do it.”

To reserve a tee time, arrange a tournament or special event, call the clubhouse at 956-585-6330. Martin Valley Ranch Golf Course is located on West Expressway 83 at Western Road in Palmview.

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