White Wing: Say Hello to the Newest Course in the Austin Area

By Kyle Dalton, Contributor

In the central part of Texas, the lay of the land is just like the weather - it's always changing. From the many elevations of the Hill Country, to the rolling prairie along and east of Interstate 35, Central Texas offers a spectrum of topographical features. For White Wing Golf Club in Georgetown, the newest golf course in the Austin area, most, if not all of these various features are included throughout the course and were delicately incorporated into its design.

Right off the first tee, it's obvious that course designers Billy Casper and Greg Nash tried to preserve as much of the natural landscape as possible. This is evidenced on the par-4, 335-yard (from the tips) first hole by a large Cedar Elm tree that looms large on the right side of the fairway and forces you to aim left on the otherwise straightaway hole. Once you've cleared the tree, the smaller-than-average green is protected by several large mounds and a couple of bunkers.

Preservation of the landscape is even more obvious in Casper's design on the par-4, 379-yard No. 8 as a towering oak stands right in the middle of the fairway. These are just two trees, unique because of their location. There are, however, approximately 20,000 more trees throughout the 6,288-yard layout that include live oak, red oak, white oak and cedar.

In most cases, the trees come into play off the tee box as they line the fairways and demand a straight, accurate first shot. Four holes in particular - Nos. 3, 6, 8 and 14 - are surrounded by trees on both sides of each narrow fairway and any wayward shot will likely earn you a bogey or worse.

When trees aren't lining both sides of the 419 Tifway Bermuda fairways, they can be found in clusters in strategic locations such as the corners of a dogleg or overhanging portions of the green. No. 10, which is used as the No. 1 tee box on some occasions, is a prime example. The par-4, 349-yard dogleft left is relatively short, but a large group of trees at the dogleg requires an accurate tee shot - with iron or wood - in order to reach the green in regulation.

When not avoiding trees, White Wing's 56 sand bunkers provide you with plenty of challenges. Although most bunkers are located in common locales such as the fairways and along the sides of greens awaiting errant shots, the trap behind the green on the par-5, 518-yard third hole is noteworthy. Members warn you on your second shot around this dogleg left, "Don't be long!" Upon arrival you see why. The bunker lies on the backside of the green with a five-foot wall standing between you and the green.

Bring your best sand wedge or you could be there a while. In addition to the bunkers, another potential hazard that is also a feature of the natural landscape is tall grass and wildflowers. In particular, No. 2, a 396-yard dogleg right features wildflowers and native grass on both sides of the fairway that is at least five-feet tall in some places. The grass and wildflowers also come into play on the scenic No. 11, a par-5, 519-yard hole.

Off the tee, grass awaits on both sides of this double-dogleg left hole. After a reasonable shot off the tee, Berry Creek, which is lined with large oak trees, crosses the hole diagonally and requires an accurate second shot. Once across, trees to the right and more tall grass to the left keep you honest on your approach to the green.

Although the Central Texas region is also known for its Highland Lakes, White Wing does not feature water prominently on the course. Berry Creek and Cowan Creek do come into play on several holes, but are dry during the summer time and provide for nothing more than a hard-to-find or lost ball, as opposed to a watery grave.

No better example of this can be found than on the signature hole - No. 18. This 556-yard, par-5 is an interesting hole to say the least. Depending on the clubhouse rules on the day you play, there are two routes to the hole on this split fairway. Play is predominantly to the left, but on certain occasions the right fairway is open and it's a direct shot off the tee over Berry Creek. Most often rules dictate that you drive off the elevated tee to the left fairway, which slopes gently toward the creek. Your second shot is over the creek to the elevated green, which is protected by a large oak tree.

The only hole that does have water on a consistent basis is the finishing hole on the front side, No. 9, a par-5, 560-yard dogleg to the left. Off the tee you must drive over a small pond into a fairly wide-open fairway. After an accurate second shot around the tree at the bend, water sits all along the right side of the green and offers a picturesque view as you make the turn.

Finally, once you have cleared all the obstacles - natural and manmade - and reached the green, there is more work to do. The greens, which are TifEagle Bermuda during the Summer, are extremely quick. According to Director of Golf Susie Davis, the greens at White Wing are very similar to speedy Bentgrass greens and are treated with care to maintain that speed. "The greens are handmowed. They're kind of our baby."

In addition to the speed, most greens also have undulations; some moreso than others. In particular, the par-4, 381-yard No. 14, which features a deep valley in the middle and requires an accurate approach if you want to get down in two.

While all the natural land features are predominant throughout the course, natural habitat also like to reside within the confines of the tall grass and wooded areas and make White Wing a unique golfing experience. So don't be surprised to see roadrunners, Texas-sized jackrabbits, or an occasional armadillo appear along your 18-hole trip on the newest course in the Austin area.

White Wing Golf Club
151 Dove Hollow Trail
Georgetown, Texas 78628
Director of Golf: Susie Davis
Telephone: 512-864-1244 or 800-909-1969
Internet: http://www.golftexasbest.com

Facilities: 12,000-square foot chipping green; 15,000-square foot putting green; and driving range - $2.00 per bucket of balls.

Directions: From Austin, take IH-35 North to the Andice Exit (Exit 261-A). Turn Left (West) onto Williams Drive (R.M. 1228). Go approximately 5 miles. Del Webb's Sun City Texas is located on the right on Williams Drive.

Kyle Dalton, Contributor

Since graduating from the University of Texas in 1992 with a degree in journalism, Kyle Dalton has been a writer and editor for a variety of national publications in various fields.

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