Fazio Canyons: The Newest Jewel at Barton Creek

By Kyle Dalton, Contributor

AUSTIN - The newest jewel in the Barton Creek mix is the Canyons Course - another Tom Fazio-designed masterpiece that opened in January. This 7,161-yard, par-72 layout is located two miles from the resort's main clubhouse and provides plush fairways, quick greens, and some spectacular views of the Texas Hill Country. All these features combined have allowed the course to land on this year's Dallas Morning News' list of "10 Best New Courses (In Texas)."

One Fazio trademark found early and often at the Canyons Course is the preservation and protection of the environment. This is no more apparent than off the second tee, a par-4, 383-yard dogleg to the right. The natural landscape including trees and a large rock hill are ever present on this hole, which is creatively carved into the side of the hill and features a tee shot off an elevated tee down to the bottom of the canyon.

The Champions Bermuda green, which is fairly quick and can rank high on the stimp meter, is surrounded by the Short Springs Branch tributary - a small creek - that runs throughout the course. After playing No. 2 and others like it, you are left to wonder how Fazio envisioned a course of such beauty when it was just rugged, undeveloped terrain.

Following the par-3 third, Nos. 4 and 5 are two doglegs to the left, which like No. 2, are challenging and ideal for the golfer who can maneuver his shot. No. 4 is a short par 4 of 343 yards that is slightly uphill. A steep drop to the creek and wooded area lies to the left on this hole, but a well struck shot off the tee allows for a short wedge to a green that features another cliff on its back side.

The wooded areas on the Canyons Course make it unique from the other Barton Creek courses. According to assistant pro Aaron Chilex, they also make it more difficult. "If you hit it in there, you'll have a hard time finding the ball."

In the future you will be able to add rough as another challenge on Fazio Canyons but because it has not reached its full length due to the course's newness, it is not much of a factor. "The rough isn't where we want it to be yet," Chilex said. All these factors combined, and you have a layout that puts a premium on accuracy. Anything less means more shots and higher scores.

For the relative shortness of No. 4, No. 5 makes up for it. This 608-yard, par-5 is a dogleg to the left that is downhill off the tee to a landing area that includes bunkers to the left and right. Your second shot must be straight, as another Fazio trademark - large fairway and greenside bunkers - sit to the left and right before the green and are greenside.

No. 7 is another par 5 - this one measuring 553 yards. The dogleg left features a shot off an elevated tee to the Bermuda fairway that features Short Springs Branch Creek running across the middle. Your second shot must carry the creek and is uphill to a green that is nestled into a hillside and protected by a bunker in the front left.

No. 8 is another picturesque hole. This par 3 of 213 yards features a tee shot to a green approximately 75 feet below and a cliff to the left with Short Springs Branch Creek running through it. From the tee you can watch other golfers on No. 5.

Finishing up on the front side is the No. 1 handicap hole at Fazio Canyons. This 460-yard hole is all of its measured yardage and more. A retaining pond, which is generally out of play, lies to the left on this hole that is fairly wide open and straight uphill to a green approximately 50 feet above the tee.

Off the tee, you must keep your drive to the left as a running creek runs the entire length of the hole on the right and fairway bunkers are in play on the right.

The back side begins with a hard dogleg to the right that is slightly downhill and measures 428 yards. This hole features a creek that runs along the right side of the fairway the entire length of the hole and then crosses in front of the green at the dogleg. After hitting your approach to the green on this par 4, you get to enjoy the sound and beauty of a small waterfall as you cross the creek using strategically placed stepping stones.

No. 11 is a 173-yard par 3. Trouble lies in front off the tee as you cross a canyon to a green that features a large bunker and the creek to your left.

The par-4 No. 13 is another scenic hole on the Canyons Course that can be deceptive. Off an elevated tee, you cross a creek and a valley and it appears you can reach a rock wall that is directly in front and runs parallel to the left turn of the hole.

Unless you can hit a shot of Tigeresque proportion, the wall and preceding landscape are not in play. Your second shot is to an extremely long and undulating green with a large canyon and subsequent drop-off to the left.

No. 15 offers another launch pad off the tee box. This 450-yard, par 4 requires an accurate tee shot with trees to both the right and left, as well as a canyon with long grass jutting out on the right side of the fairway at the dogleg.

Your tee shot must stay left on this sloping left-to-right fairway in order for you to have a clear shot around a group of large trees on the right to a green that has a creek and lake along the right.

The finishing hole on the Canyons course is nothing short of spectacular. On the tee box at the 561-yard No. 18, you are afforded one last view of the surrounding Hill Country. Off the tee, you hit to the first landing area that is downhill and straight away.

Your second shot leaves you with a decision - go for the green and cross the creek twice, which crosses the fairway at about 350 yards off the tee and right in front of the green, or hit a layup in between creeks and leave yourself a wedge or high iron. It's up to you, but it's definitely a risk-reward shot. Whatever happens, this finishing hole and entire course won't be one you will soon forget.

Barton Creek
8212 Barton Creek Drive
Austin, TX 78735
Telephone: 800-336-6158
Internet: www.bartoncreek.com

Amenities: Putting green, chipping green, and a driving range.
Head Professional: Phillip Marburger

Directions: From Austin's Bergstrom International Airport: As you exit the airport on Presidential Blvd., make a left on Highway 71 heading west. Drive 5.5 miles on Highway 71 West, passing Interstate 35, to exit for Loop 360. Take Loop 360 North 7.7 miles to the exit for Bee Cave Road (R.M. 2244).

Make a left on Bee Cave Road and go 1 mile to the stop light for Barton Creek Blvd. Make a left on Barton Creek Blvd. and go past Barton Club Drive and through the residential community. The course is approximately 3 miles past Barton Club 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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