Shadow Glen Golf Club a shining jewel for Austin golfers

By Steve Habel, Contributor

MANOR, Texas — If you are used to playing golf on the challenging layouts of the top golf resorts or highly rated daily fee courses, the 2 1/2-year-old Shadow Glen Golf Club in Manor is going to be right up your alley.

No. 1 at Shadow Glen
The green at No. 1 at Shadow Glen shows the course's links-style feel
No. 1 at Shadow GlenNo. 17 at Shadow Glen18th green at Shadow Glen
If you go

And if you play Shadow Glen on a day of the type we did — with winds blowing a constant 20 mph from the south and gusting to 35 mph and above — prepare yourself for a long day and a high score.

Shadow Glen takes no prisoners, nor asks any quarter. Once you get the ball on the immaculate and smooth rolling greens, the golf course rewards you if you can judge speed and line. It's just getting to the greens that can be arduous.

Shadow Glen Golf Club is the newest championship design of renowned architects Roy Bechtol and Randy Russell of Bechtol-Russell Golf and embodies the qualities of the finest courses in the country while staying true to the Central Texas feel of hills, trees and wind-swept prairies.

Scenic views are aplenty while numerous water features also enhance this tour quality experience. Extensive bunkering and mounding help maintain that isolation golfers want while playing, but also create tricky situations for the players around the greens.

"I really believe this may be our most impressive work yet," Bechtol said. "If I did it all over again I wouldn't change a thing."

What Bechtol and Russell have made is a course so refined and challenging that Shadow Glen was voted a "Top 10 Best New Affordable Golf Course in 2004" by Golf Digest.

The course was built by Golf Works, Inc., the 2001 National Large Builder of the Year as selected by Golf Course News. In an effort to raise the bar of the public golf experience in Central Texas, Golf Works created what some are calling the premier golf experience in the area at any price — public or private.

The TifEagle greens are undulating and meant to be speedy while the TifSport Bermuda provides the finest fairways available. The new Y2 zoysia grass, usually reserved for the finest private courses, lines the bunker walls.

The Shadow Glen course vision was complete when it proved itself the leader in Austin area public golf by providing championship conditions at an affordable price. Even the clubhouse designer was handpicked as Foley Design of East Point, Ga. won the National Clubhouse Design of the Year award for his work at Fred Couples' Newcastle in Seattle. When designing all aspects of Shadow Glen, only the best in the nation would do.

Course condition and customer service are on equal ground, sporting the type of service usually reserved for so-called "country clubs."

There are several interesting quirks to the course, which measures in at a whopping 7,174 yards at a par of 72 from the back set of four tee boxes. There's a long par 5 with an uphill carry of better than 250 yards off the tee and there's a short and drivable par 4 with a graveyard — a real cemetery — in play off the tee.

There are two par 3s of more than 210 yards in length. There are also elevation changes of more than 50 feet — and that comes on just one hole — and nary a flat lie to found in the manicured fairways.

The greens at Shadow Glen were, by far, the best we have seen in Central Texas through this summer than has now turned to fall.

Thanks to the wind, I had trouble with the aforementioned 561-yard, par-5 seventh hole. From Bechtol, I discovered that the play for No. 7 on a day when the wind is from the south is over the trees that border the right side of the fairway.

Anything to the left or center of the fairway that does not carry at least 250 yards will run down hill, giving you a difficult second shot to a narrow fairway 50 feet above where you take your stance.

"A lot of people come in and say that No. 7 is not a fair hole because the landing area is so severe, especially into the wind," Bechtol said. "We are considering changing the hole sometime in the future."

The verdict

I would like to play Shadow Glen again and plan to as the weather gets cooler and the wind dies down some. It made for an enjoyable round and the course is all it's cracked up to be.

Shadow Glen is located about 10 miles east of Austin and is well worth the drive both for the challenge and the chance to get out of town and see a track that could — in time and with a little more seasoning — be one of the best in Texas.

Take note, the practice green at Shadow Glen can put a damper on your round even before it starts. There's barely a flat spot on the surface and the green is so speedy and cut so short that there's no way to build any confidence to take to the course.

Rates are $29.99 on weekdays and $39.99 on weekends and holidays, making this course one of the best bargains in the area. There are discounts for seniors, juniors and twilight and sunset play and another trip around the course costs just $17.

Stay and play

There is one motel in Manor — a Quality Inn that is just two minutes from the course — but there are a bevy of hotels in the Northeast part of Austin (10 minutes west) and several in Elgin (10 minutes east). For package deals, contact the course.

Dining out

Golfers in Austin will find the city replete with a wealth of excellent dining options, from upscale American restaurants to a wide variety of Asian offerings to that most sacred of Texas subjects: Barbecue. Whatever you're in the mood for - a quick bite, a nice wine, an exotic meal - this city has an answer. Use our Austin dining guide to help plan where you might like to eat on your next Texas golf vacation.

Steve Habel, Contributor

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • shadow glenn

    michael dodge wrote on: Mar 16, 2012

    played march 16, 2012. I know the texas drought has hurt a lot of golf courses, but shadow glenn closed summer 2011 and just reopened 2 days ago. wow, what a horrible course!! they have a tremendous amount of work to do to make it just playable. basically, they mowed down the weeds and opened the course. may try again next year, but it's going to take at least a year to get it back into even close to its shape 2 years ago. they have really let this course go down the drain...