New leadership, new attitude revive Austin's Golf Club at Circle C

By Steve Habel, Contributor

EDITOR'S NOTE: The course formerly known as Golf Club at Circle C is now known as Grey Rock Golf Club.

Circle C No.1
Chairs sit overlooking the 18th green at Circle C. After you are done playing, these seats look pretty appetizing.
Circle C No.1Circle C No.1
If you go

AUSTIN, Texas -- For many Central Texas golfers, the Golf Club at Circle C long seemed a waste of a good golf course.

Opened in 1992 with lofty aspirations in southwest Austin, Circle C was always infinitely playable. The large, undulating greens, tree-lined fairways and well-placed bunkers made this Jay Morrish design challenging and appealing for players of all skill levels.

You just had to look past the poor maintenance, high price and snooty staff.

But things have changed at this off-the-beaten-path track 15 minutes from downtown. Under the ownership of local entrepreneur Wally DeRoeck and the stewardship of PGA Professional Chip Gist, the Golf Club at Circle C has reclaimed its prominent place among Austin's high-end daily-fee courses, with a renovated property and revolutionized service culture.

Gist, the general manager and director of golf, hired Carter Morrish to restore the integrity and aesthetic appeal of the course. The designer's son reworked all 55 bunkers, making them both more playable and more visually pleasing. "The bunkers had really lost their integrity over time," Gist said.

Other projects included repairing the drainage system, doubling the size of the driving range and adding a private teaching area. Two holes, the 11th and 17th, were reworked due to a road easement.

The expanded, Western-themed pro shop now offers club fitting, custom orders and other services, and there's now a full restaurant rather than just a snack bar.

"Our goal was to restore the Golf Club at Circle C to its former standing as one of the finest daily-fee golf courses in Central Texas," said Gist, formerly director of golf operations at Barton Creek Resort, "and we think we are well on the way to doing just that."

The course encompasses about 160 acres of Hill Country, with cedars and live oaks lining the holes and undulating Bermuda greens protected by mounds and bunkers. An abundance of birds and deer reside in the surrounding woods.

You'll want to appreciate the beauty from a cart, though - the jaunts from the clubhouse to the first tee and between many holes are lengthy.

The course plays 6,859 and is rated 72.7 from the back set of four tees. The friendly par-4 first and reachable par-5 second warm you up for No. 4, a longish, dogleg-right par 4 and the No. 1 handicap hole. The tough 542-yard seventh is even tougher when the pin placement is back left, close to a water hazard and over a large mound.

There's more challenge on the back side, which starts with an uphill par 4 with a long, narrow green. Nos. 16 and 17 are toughest holes on the course, a 206-yarder with water on the right and a 447-yard par 4 with a huge, tree-blocked green that makes for a likely three-putt.

The home hole is only listed as the 12th hardest on the course, but water down the right side and out-of-bounds on the left makes it plenty knee-knocking.

The verdict

If you can control your golf ball and roll it well, you have a chance to score at Circle C. More important, the course's new attitude and attention to detail make it once again one of the top places to play in the Austin area, with service and amenities to match the uniquely appealing property. Get there while you can - before long this is going to be one of the toughest tee times in the region.

Steve Habel, Contributor

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