The best view of many great ones at the University of Texas Golf Club was behind the 15th green, with a look down to Lake Austin, which is actually the Colorado River.
Golf Course Review: University of Texas Golf Club
I played the University of Texas Golf Club today. The course smelled pretty ripe after an application of organic fertilizer to the greens -- organic as in chicken manure. I'm not complaining, mind you. It is good for the planet and the local wildlife, and real golfers will put up with a lot if a course's greens are good, and these putted in inverse proportion to how they smelled. The rest of the course was pretty special as well, a splendid Bechtol Russell Golf design that has been babied to near perfection by the club's owners and course superintendent.
Despite heavy rains in the prior days that forced cart-path only restrictions, I saw no casual water on the course, and even though we were beyond the workers who were raking the sand bunkers, the sand was essentially dry with no casual water anywhere. You can tell the owners, who are putting the finishing touches on a new $16 million clubhouse to open in the spring, lavish much attention and investment in the course. Everyone has been exquisitely trained as well. The greetings from the bag drop to the pro shop to the snack bar were as friendly as I've encountered at any private club, with a professionalism to match. Assistant pro Jean-Paul Hebert, a former All American for the UT Longhorns, even furnished me with a rangefinder that was icing on the cake for the good yardage book available to guests and members.
I played with two members, Ron and Gareth, in a best two of three-ball match with the threesome in front of us. Ron, a former regional director for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and Gareth, a lawyer and former tax executive, were excellent companions and played Mutt and Jeff for most of the 18 holes (I contributed just one of our group's six birdies for the round). We beat the other guys out of few dollars.
The UT course is not for the timid but it will delight anyone who appreciates the kind of design that rewards and punishes in about equal measure. From the white Longhorn tees we played at 6,600 yards, there are some intimidating drives over ravines, and correct fairway placements on your tee balls are imperative to have reasonable entries to the well-bunkered and tilted greens. The views from a number of holes are quite impressive, nowhere more so than behind #15 which is perched pretty much at the edge of a cliff overlooking Lake Austin way below.
The focus on the member "experience" at the UT Golf Club is apparently quite strong. One example: The course, just five years old, was redesigned a year or so ago with input from Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw and Justin Leonard, as well as the original designers. The owners put four different types of sand in the bunkers for three months and then asked members to vote their preference. That's the sand that is now in all the bunkers on the course. I'll have much more on this terrific golf course and the Steiner Ranch community in an upcoming issue of the HomeOnTheCourse community guide.
For membership information, contact UT Golf Club's Lisa Coffman at (512) 266-6464. The club's web site is at www.utgolfclub.com.
Ron, left, and Gareth were fine companions and fierce competitors. They led us to victory in a best ball match against another threesome at the University of Texas Golf Club.