Jimmy Clay and Roy Kizer courses: Golf at Austin's mega-muni
But its top, all-encompassing municipal facility includes 36 holes of golf at the Jimmy Clay and Roy Kizer layouts south of town -- a golf club that offers a little bit of everything.
Places like Clay-Kizer explain the friendliness of Austin as a golf city for locals.
In addition to the two 18-hole golf courses, a large, grass driving range serves as the site of golf schools and private lessons. Next to it sits a four-hole short course available to play all day for $4, plus multiple chipping and putting greens. It seems all that's missing is a huge pro shop; a small one here sells limited apparel and golf clubs.
This is where locals without a private membership come to work on their golf games, especially when the club makes offers like the $50 "range grinder" pass for a month of unlimited balls and discounted, cart-fee-only twilight rates. And you can shag your own pitches on a field with a few flags behind the clubhouse.
It also helps that, despite sitting side by side just off U.S. Highway 290, Clay and Kizer are two very different golf courses.
Jimmy Clay Golf Course
These golf courses were built in different eras, starting with the Jimmy Clay layout in 1974. Designed by Joe Finger, it's a traditional Texas parkland track set through trees and rolling hills. It makes for a few steeply elevated greens, like the 10th and the side-by-side seventh and 13th.
Renovated in 2007, Jimmy Clay Golf Course is plenty for anyone from the back tees, playing 6,914 yards, and it features a mix of open holes and narrow doglegs. The par-4 third is a tight dogleg right through a chute of trees with a creek down the left side. On the back nine, the par-4 15th hole is a sharp dogleg left that rewards those who can hit a controlled draw.
The par-4 18th hole at Clay ranks as one of the toughest holes in Austin. It's long, supremely narrow and plays through a corridor of trees with a pond left of the fairway, plus another in front of an elevated green. Complicating matters, it plays dead into the sunset.
Roy Kizer Golf Course
The newer of the two, Roy Kizer Golf Course opened in 1994 next to Jimmy Clay on a site formerly occupied by a wastewater plant. The golf course is entirely flat with trees on the perimeter. To make the golf course noteworthy, designer Randolph Russell built artificial mounds and lakes, and water comes into play on almost every hole.
Kizer is described as a links-style play, and I suppose when the ground is firm and the winds are strong -- common conditions here -- similarities exist. But there are loads of large ponds, hazards and carries, and it's wall-to-wall bermuda grass, affording more of a Florida feel than Scotland.
The facility represents Austin's premier tournament test among the five municipal golf courses and plays as long as 6,819 yards. Several holes, like the 468-yard, par-4 11th and 456-yard 18th, named Terminator, test the city's best players.
Jimmy Clay and Roy Kizer golf courses: The verdict
While you can find more spectacular Hill Country courses west of town, city dwellers and south siders love Jimmy Clay and Roy Kizer. I'm one of them. Among the golf courses closest to my home in the city, this venue gets my business almost every time, because I'm always able to get out within a couple minutes of showing up on a late afternoon -- thanks to four tee boxes within steps of the clubhouse.
Both golf courses are walker friendly and reasonably priced, though Kizer usually runs a couple dollars more than Clay. There are no homes on either layout, and you can bring your dog if you'd like; just keep it on a leash and bag the waste. Both golf courses remain in pretty good shape for the money, consistent or better than other mid-priced Austin plays. If you're a visitor staying downtown, it's one of the better bargain plays near the city. And the facility is located about a 10-minute drive from Austin-Bergstrom Airport.