Circle C Golf Club: Serene golf near the big city
EDITOR'S NOTE: The course formerly known as Golf Club at Circle C is now known as Grey Rock Golf Club.
AUSTIN, Texas -- In the last decade, the growth of Austin has taken place mainly to the northern side of the city. The number of golf courses opening on the same side of town has -- for the most part -- followed that same growth pattern, with one exception.
Circle C Golf Club, located 20 minutes south of downtown, opened in 1993, and is without question, one of the nicest public courses the Capital City has to offer. While its location south of town sets it apart from the new development, its true uniqueness can be found in its solitude.
Despite its short distance from downtown, this 6,859-yard layout truly offers the peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of city life. It's nothing but you and the course, with an occasional visit from the native wildlife. According to Assistant Manager Eric Dahlen, the serene environment is what draws almost 49,000 players a year. "Folks like the feel with no houses and no signs of the city."
The natural backdrop provides for picturesque holes, as well as many Challenges, as you navigate through the course. Out of the gate on the par-4, 423-yard first hole, you'll find the most common feature at Circle C and the main factor that can come between you and a good score -- trees -- and there are plenty of them.
Trees line the fairway on the first hole and most of the other holes that follow on this Jay Morrish-designed course. Morrish, however, wasn't unfair with his design by creating relatively wide fairways to place your ball off the tee. Out of bounds is in play on only two holes. If you do happen to find the tall sticks, your strategy and execution back to the fairway will definitely affect your final tally. If you can successfully hit the ball in the fairway off the tee on a regular basis, your score will reflect that accuracy.
Your first break from the oaks comes on hole Nos. 3 and 4. The par-3, 193-yard third hole, for obvious reasons, is without trees. It is, though, not without danger. A valley to the left of the green and one of the more than 50 bunkers on the course sits to the right. No. 4, a par-4 of 446 yards is a dogleg to the right and one of numerous doglegs on the course. This hole allows you to fire at one of the wider fairways and if you successfully manage to cut the corner, par is a very attainable score.
Reaching the outer perimeter of the course at No. 4, the next hole, the par-4, 380-yard fifth hole begins your return back to the clubhouse quite suitably with a hole opposite in design to its predecessor. This dogleg-left is challenging off the tee, not because of the trees or even the considerable turn of the hole, but bunkers. Numerous bunkers dot the Tif 419 fairway and dare you to hit it past them. If you clear them off the tee, your work is not done as several deep pot bunkers await any errant approach near the green.
Next up is No. 6, a par 4 of 417 yards. This is one of the two holes on the course that features out of bounds. Sitting to the right of the fairway is an area of tall grass and marsh. If you manage to find this off the tee, don't bother or you may find yourself knee-deep in muck.
Following the par-5, 542-yard No. 7, the No. 1 handicap hole, you conclude the front nine with a nice, short par 4 measuring in at just 317 yards. This hole features a large oak on the left side of the fairway and several fairway bunkers. If you are able to avoid the tree and the bunkers off the tee, you should have a short wedge into the Tifdwarf Bermuda green with a chance at regaining a stroke or two.
One word can be used to accurately describe the back nine -- dogleg. All holes on the back side, with the obvious exception of the two par threes, feature a dogleg to some degree.
Some, like Nos. 11, 12, 14 and 15, are more severe than others, but all of them influence your decision-making process off the tee. If you have the ability to maneuver the ball, this course, and in particular this nine, is just for you.
The design at No. 11 features a double-dose of dogleg. Off the tee the fairway curves back to the left. Those daring enough can attempt to cut the corner and the trees to shave off some distance. After your tee shot and second shot, your approach is to a green that swings back to the right. If you accurately place your first two shots, par is a good chance on the 513-yard par 5.
After a rather benign par 4, the next two holes are complete opposites. No. 13 is a short par 3 of 168 yards and one of the more picturesque holes at Circle C. A small pond sits between you and the green so don't leave it short or your ball will meet a watery grave.
Next up is the longest and second most difficult hole at Circle C. The 591-yard par-5 No. 14 is a dogleg-right that demands a good tee shot to have any chance at par. Success off the tee and with your second shot will leave you with a wedge or 9-iron into the green, which is protected by several bunkers.
Water is not much of a factor throughout the Circle C layout. That all changes on two of the final three holes. The par-3, 206-yard No. 16 features the wet stuff on both sides of the fairway. Any shot off line and short on this hole may find the water hazard.
January 21, 2003