Austin's Avery Ranch Golf Club is more than just a pretty face
AUSTIN, Texas - Avery Ranch Golf Club was only built in 2001, but its notoriety belies its youth.
Various golf publications have lauded the golf course for its superb conditions, its clubhouse, its dining area, its overall design and even its cart girls. Hosting the annual Dennis Quaid Charity Weekend, a golf event and gala that benefits local children's charities, garners the course more attention.
Course architect Andy Raugust - a longtime member of the Jack Nicklaus design team who worked on the spectacular Cabo del Sol in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - pairs the panoramic vistas and gentle rolling hills with oak-lined fairways and a 60-acre lake.
The 226-acre site northwest of downtown Austin, long ago home to Native American tribes and a military post, presented one major design hurdle, heavy deposits of limestone. Raugust used dynamite on five holes to blast out of some of the rock, but otherwise terrain changes were minor.
"The first time I visited the property, I thought it was a great piece of land that was notorious for rock," he said. "Avery Ranch was a relatively easy course to design because the land actually dictated where the course should go. The trees were spaced out pretty well throughout the course, and we really didn't have to do much alteration to the land."
The natural beauty is there from the start. The par-4, 377-yard first plays past an inlet of Brushy Creek, which runs throughout the course and offers various scenic challenges. You need to clear the creek off the tee and stay between the trees lining both sides of the fairway, as they do on most holes.
The combination of natural landscape and savvy design is evident on No. 5, at 597 yards the longest hole here. Position is key on this downhill dogleg left. The pond guarding the green adds to the challenge; the waterfall there adds to the visual delight.
The seventh also matches scenery and challenge. The carry to the green on this 397-yard par 4 is one of the more spectacular shots on the course, with a view to a two-tiered putting surface flanked by bunkers, native cacti and a large manmade rock wall.
Another signature hole is the par-3 13th, an impressive setup that requires precision and rewards great shot-making. There's water on the right along all 161 yards, a canopy of towering oaks around the back and a rim of rock what creates a 20-foot drop to the right of the green.
The verdict on Avery Ranch
Avery Ranch needs a tweak here or there to take its place among the best in Austin golf. But a round here is very enjoyable and well worth repeating.
If you're long and accurate with your driver you can thrive at Avery Ranch. For the middle to high handicappers, there is a huge reward for being in the fairway, and you can still shoot a good score by hitting low irons and fairway woods off the tee.
Green fees range from $52 weekdays to $69 weekends. There are discounts for twilight (five hours before dark), super twilight (three hours before dark), juniors and seniors.
The practice facility includes a two-tier tee box with laser-measured yardages to four target greens, plus separate putting and chipping greens maintained to closely match the actual playing conditions of the course.
Avery Ranch sits in the middle of one of the busiest and most tourist-friendly parts of Austin, with no less than 20 hotels, motels, lodges and inns to choose from. Contact the course for packages.
Austin has more restaurants per capita than any city in America - you name it, you can eat it here.
As you might expect, the city is especially known for southwestern and barbecue. If you're in a spicy mood the popular Chuy's Tex-Mex chain has two locations within a short haul of Avery Ranch. Meat eaters will love the smoked goodness of Stubb's Bar-B-Q downtown. The sauce here is world-famous, so lop it on and get some extra napkins.
July 26, 2007