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Swinging Into Summer

Playing a round of golf – outdoor therapy for the ATX Man

BY Katy McIntosh

 

Austin is home to some of the finest golf courses, not only in Texas, but also in the country. We asked men in Austin where they like to play and came up with a list of six of the best golf courses in Central Texas. Here are the facts, the stats and tips from the pros.

 

Austin Country Club

Slope/rating: 75.2/149
Public/Private: Private

Interesting Fact:
ACC, which was founded in 1899, is one of the oldest existing clubs in Texas and home to one of the greatest golf instructors who ever lived, Harvey Penick. Penick trained both Tom Watson and Ben Crenshaw on the links at ACC.

Pro Dale Morgan on what makes the ACC course a stand-out:
Pete Dye designed a fantastic golf course that gives you nine holes of Scottish links style that plays along side Lake Austin and then brings you to the back nine where you play a more traditional Hill Country type course.

Greatest Golf tip:
Penick often made the point that golfers should keep it simple and work on one fault at a time. “Go out and have fun,” Penick said. “Golf is a game for everyone, not just for the talented few.”

 

BARTON CREEK RESORT & SPA: FAZIO FOOTHILLS

Slope/rating: 74.0/138
Public/Private: Private, or you can play as a guest of the resort.
Cost: Packages start at $249 per person for a one night stay and unlimited golf

Interesting Fact:
Golfweek magazine rates the Foothills #4 among America’s 50 Best Resort Courses. July marks the 25th anniversary of this course.

Club Director Michael Rushing on why you should play here:
Barton Creek is the number one golf resort in the state of Texas. Our courses are nationally ranked. The course is both a beautiful and adventurous round of golf. Both the design and terrain are unique. Creeks, streams and ponds figure into play on as many as seven holes. With five different sets of tees, the Foothills course caters to golfers at every level.

Rushing’s favorite tip:
Play from a set of tees that fits how you hit the ball. Play within your set. Finish balanced and strong at the end of your swing.

 

FALCONHEAD

Slope/rating: 75.0/129
Public/Private: Hybrid
Cost: Weekdays: $65, Weekends: $85

Interesting Fact:
Falconhead was the first course in Texas designed by the PGA Tour.

Pro Steve Septoski on why you should play Falconhead:
It’s a great test for every skill level.

Pro Steve Septoski on best tip they’ve ever given or received:
The key to great golf is good misses.

 

GREY ROCK COUNTRY CLUB

Slope/rating: 73.6/131
Public/Private: Hybrid
Cost: Mon-Thurs $80, Fri-Sun: $100
(Twilight and 9-hole rates are discounted)

Interesting Fact:
The course has equal numbers of dogleg lefts and dogleg rights. You’ll be using every club in your bag. On some of the par-3s you can use longer irons or even woods. The 2011 Austin Open was played here in April. Brian Novoa won with a 2-round total score of 139.

General Manager and Director of Golf Chip Gist, PGA Professional:
Why play at Grey Rock? Grey Rock offers the best, classic-style golf course in Austin and hands-down, the best service, staff and atmosphere of any golf experience in the Texas Hill Country. My philosophy is clear. When customers come here to play golf, I want to create the conditions for them to relax and have fun. It’s as simple as that.

Best golf tip ever given or received:
Practice putting as much as you practice your full swing. Use your sand wedge for more than just the sand. Tee the ball lower in the wind.

 

HANCOCK GOLF COURSE

Slope/Rating: 65.2/112
Public/Private: Public
Cost: Weekday: $12.00 for nine holes, $19.50 for 18 holes, Weekend: $13.00 for nine holes, $21.50 for 18 holes

Interesting Fact:
Established in 1899, Hancock Golf Course stands today as the oldest golf course in the state of Texas.

Golf Professional Steve Darby talks about Hancock:
Hancock is a gorgeous little course. It’s an oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle of downtown. It’s challenging, but forgiving enough to be fun.

Best tip:
Harvey Penick said to me, ‘Steve, go play as little golf as you can.’ He meant that I should take as few strokes as I can and play efficiently.

 

RIVER PLACE COUNTRY CLUB

Slope/rating: 72.2/135
Public/Private: Private

Interesting Fact:
River Place underwent a multimillion dollar course renovation in the mid 1990’s by Tom Kite and Roy Bechtol.

Head Golf Professional Chris de Keratry on why he plays at River Place:
The more you play River Place, the more you enjoy River Place. Every single shot is memorable and you can never get bored playing the course. The course challenges you, but at the same time, gives you lots of opportunities for birdies.

What is the best golf tip you have either given or received:
When it comes to full swing, I’d say a good tip for slicers is to simply learn to get the back of your hand and forearm to turn over through impact. The ball will go where the back of the hand is pointed at impact (in a neutral grip).  So if you are hitting the ball to the right (for righties), then you’re hitting it with the side of your hand. Your need to really feel the arm and hand turn over on the downswing!

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