Avery Ranch Golf Club: A Piece of History in Austin
AUSTIN, Texas -- Avery Ranch, a new community located just 20 minutes northwest of Austin, is abundantly rich with historical, archaeological and cultural significance. From various Indian tribes to infamous bank robbers, the Ranch has seen it all. Now, with the new 226-acre Avery Ranch Golf Course, which opened in June, the public has a chance to roam where past legends once explored and made their mark in Central Texas lore.
On almost every hole on the course you can imagine members of the Cherokee, Comanche or Tonkawa tribes wandering the lands. In some instances, you might actually see traces of their existence in the form of Indian mounds, burned limestone markings or even arrowheads.
While the Indians were the first to discover Avery Ranch, the Spanish came upon the area in the 1800s. Once established, they attempted to strengthen the frontier against Indian attacks by building a military post near the headwaters of Brushy Creek, a body of water that runs in and around the course and offers various challenges as well as spectacular beauty on many holes.
Brushy Creek became the focal point in the mid-1800s as many early pioneers and cowboys made a path along the creek as it provided a freshwater source for both human and animal, as well as the opportunity for low-water crossings for the numerous horse and buggies. Eventually, the path became known as the "The Old Chisolm Trail" and wagon tracks can be seen in the rock where many wagons crossed during that historic time.
History aside, the land and scenery of Avery Ranch provide some captivating views of the Texas Hill Country. That's what course designer Andy Raugust saw the first time he visited the property. "It was a great piece of land that was notorious for rock."
Raugust, who worked with Jack Nicklaus for several years including the design of the spectacular Cabo Del Sol, said Avery Ranch was a relatively easy course to design because the land actually dictated where the course should go.
"There were rolling hills, creeks and trees that were already in place and made it easier for me. I could really see where the holes were going to go and how everything was going to set up," he said.
There was only one real stepping "stone" in designing Avery Ranch - rock, and plenty of it. Limestone to be exact. Raugust said they used dynamite on five holes to clear out some of the knobs of rock that would have eventually resulted in uneven holes. Relatively speaking, including the removal of rock, he said the changes to the land were minor. "We had to blast the rock and remove some trees to balance everything out. But 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 of Avery Ranch is apparent right off the first tee. The par 4 of 377 yards - from the tips - features an inlet of Brushy Creek, rolling hills, and plenty of trees. Off the tee you must clear the creek below and stay in between the trees, which line both sides of the fairway, and almost every other fairway on the course.
The combination of native landscape and Raugust design is clearly evident on hole No. 5, a par 5 of 597 yards and the longest hole on the course. Position is the key to success on this downhill dogleg-left. Placement of your drive and second shot are crucial if you are to have any hope of shooting over the pond at the green on your third shot. Raugust also incorporated a waterfall into the design of the hole near the green, which adds to the splendor and makes it one of several signature hole candidates.
Nos. 7 and 13 are two other potential signature holes according to Byron Cook, general manager of the new course. No. 7 is a par 4 that is as scenic as it is challenging. This relatively short par 4 is a hard dogleg-left that features a carry off the tee box as well as one to the green, the latter of which is one of the more spectacular shots on the course. This approach features a view of a two-tiered Tif Eagle Bermuda green that includes several bunkers including a large one to the right, native cacti behind and a large manmade rock wall in front.
Cook said No. 13 also has a chance to be crowned the signature hole because of its impressive setup. This 161-yard par 3 is guarded by water the entire length of the hole on the right, includes a canopy of towering oaks around the back, and features a rim rock feature to the right of the green.
While selection of a signature hole is still undecided, Cook said there is no question about the type of service Avery Ranch will offer to its guests. Cook, who has been GM, director of golf, or a similar position at other quality courses in or around Austin such as Riverplace, Lakeway Resort and Horseshoe Bay Resort, is familiar with top-notch service.
"Quality of maintenance and design of the course are very important. So is the level of service we will offer in our golf shop and dining area," he said.
In addition, Avery Ranch will offer a variety of amenities, including a 15-acre driving range with chipping, putting and bunker practice areas.
All of the ingredients - service, natural beauty and history make Avery Ranch a must-play when in or around the Austin area.
From Austin, travel north on IH-35 to Parmer Lane. Take Parmer Lane west approximately eight miles and the entrance to Avery Ranch is on your right. Follow the signs to the golf course.
December 21, 2002