Kurth-Landrum Golf Course: Six Holes of Golf on Texas' Oldest Campus
GEORGETOWN, TX - Located just 30 minutes north of Austin on Interstate 35, Georgetown is a quaint little Texas community with a storied history.
It was founded on the banks of the San Gabriel River in 1848. According to historian W.L. Mann, his great grandfather Washington Anderson and four other men were assigned the task of locating a county seat.
While the five men enjoyed a brief respite under a large oak tree one day, Anderson's cousin and prodigious landowner, George Washington Glasscock, Sr. rode up on his mule. Anderson told Glasscock that if he would give up the land between their location under the oak tree to the San Gabriel River, they would make the land the county seat and name the town after Glasscock. George Glasscock agreed and Georgetown was officially born.
Today, the city, which was once considered a sizeable drive north of the state capital, gets closer and closer to the "big" city as businesses such as Dell Computer continue to expand to the north.
Through all the growth, one constant has remained in the city of 28,000 people. Southwestern University is one of the city's most historic landmarks and also one of its main sources of business. Chartered by the Republic of Texas in 1840, Southwestern is the oldest institute of higher learning in the entire state. Originally named Texas University, the school ceded the name to the state in 1875. Now, the name belongs to the state's largest school, the University of Texas at Austin.
Although the school lost its name in the late 1800s, it didn't lose its identity and its beautiful facilities. Many say that it is one of the most beautiful and well thought out college campuses in the country. This writer/golfer agrees.
Large white-stone buildings are interspersed throughout the small campus. Student housing is located right on campus, just a few steps away from the classrooms. In recent years, the school has added to the campus splendor with new top-notch facilities for baseball, softball, and soccer. Golf, on the other hand, hasn't seen any new facilities. In fact, the golf course has decreased in size from nine holes to six holes as the new soccer field was built adjacent to the course. However, there is a course and that by itself is something that most universities in Texas cannot claim.
Unfortunately, the history of the Kurth-Landrum Golf Course is not as well documented as the history of the state's oldest university. In fact, it's a mystery according to those who know it best.
According to Larry Connell, golf shop manager of the course for 12 years, the course was built as 18 holes sometime before World War II. Connell said it is not clear as to the exact date, but he said he believed the course was reduced to nine holes some time after the war ended.
Richard Anderson, vice president of physical affairs at Southwestern, said the recent history is a little clearer. "In 1983-84, the course, which had been private for its entire existence, was opened to the general public." Since that time, the course has averaged almost 10,000 rounds per year.
Anderson said the course is named after two people important to the university. "E.L. Kurth and Nely G. Landrum are two prominent and well-respected alumni of the school."
Kurth-Landrum remained nine holes until late 1999 according to Connell. It was at that time, he said, that the school opted to remove three holes to make room for the new soccer and softball fields.
The six holes that remain after two rounds of contraction make up a links-style course with little nuances and challenges lurking on each hole. The first noticeable challenge comes on your approach to the greens. There's not much to them.
Although the first hole finishes with a relatively small green, No. 2, an uphill par 4 of 326 yards, has the smallest green this writer/golfer has ever seen. After you have successfully managed to hit the fairway off the tee on this dogleg-left, you are faced with a green sloping back to front that is, at best, 20-feet wide by 30-feet long. To add to the difficulty is a small valley on the right side of the green. If the pin placement is anywhere near the valley, aim left. Better yet, just try to hit the green. That's an accomplishment by itself.
No. 4, a par 4 of just 295 yards is another challenging hole simply because you are faced with an awkward lie if you don't land on the top shelf of this two-tiered fairway. Anything short of the diagonally sloping hill and your second shot is blind to the green. If your luck is worse and you stop on the slope, just try and get it close.
To finish out the six-hole course are a pair of par threes. Be careful trying to find them. Through the years when the course was nine holes, golf carts crossed the terrain creating dirt cart paths that now lead to dead ends. Follow your scorecard carefully. The final hole, or No. 12 or 18 if you decide to play a full 18, is the prettiest hole on the course. This par 3 measures in at 155 yards. The challenge is hitting your tee shot between a set of trees on either side of the hole layout and over a small creek that is short of the green. If you accomplish that, you are then confronted with one of the larger greens on the course that slopes hard from back-to-front.
You'll notice a tee box to the left upon your completion of the hole. That is one of the holes recently eliminated by the construction of the new sports fields. Connell said the reduction of holes has made the course unique in that is only six holes, but there are plans in the near future for expansion of the course back to nine.
From downtown Austin, take IH-35 north to Georgetown. Take Hwy 29 east four miles. The course is on your left on the Southwestern University campus.