Wolfdancer Golf Club at Hyatt Lost Pines Resort near Austin: Three environments in one is the charm
LOST PINES, Texas - The Texas "Hill Country" is generally considered the land west and south of Austin and down to San Antonio. Wolfdancer Golf Club in Lost Pines, located about 20 minutes east of Austin, tests this boundary greatly.
The 150 acres of Wolfdancer Golf Club features a great deal of unexpected rolling, wooded and flowing topographical variance that makes the round zip along all too quickly. The golf course is part of the 405-acre Hyatt Lost Pines Resort, which sits within a larger, 1,000-plus acre natural park.
Wolfdancer Golf Club is named after the land of which the course occupies, formerly belonging to the Tonkawa American Indian tribe, who would perform ceremonial dances covered in wolf skin and danced on all fours, imitating the behavior of wolves.
The land was most recently owned by Marjorie "Tiny" Leach, a cattle rancher who owns an Austin leather shop, "Tiny's Leather Shop," before being sold to the present day resort.
Designed by Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest & Associates and opened in 2006, it's a newer neighbor of their Hill Country Golf Club about an hour southwest in San Antonio. In fact, Wolfdancer in most spots feels far more "Hill Country" than its predecessor. Chris Wilczynski was the project manager of Wolfdancer for Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest design and relished the landscape they were given.
"On most golf courses, an architect is lucky to have two desirable golf environments in which to create distinct golf holes," said Wilczynski. "At the Wolfdancer, we had three: high prairie, forested ridgeline and a sparsely wooded floodplain along the river bank."
The golf course is generally wide open off the tee, but many of the greens can be difficult to hit, especially if the Texas winds get going. For that reason, Wolfdancer is a more difficult test than your average resort golf course. That's reflected in the 76.1/137 Championship tee slope/rating, playing 7,205 yards. Four shorter sets of tees are available daily down to under 5,000 yards from the women's tees.
The front nine plays mostly along the high prairie, some of the holes are on wide open high ground and feature some beautiful views of the countryside. Though near the airport, planes don't seem to fly overhead here, so it's quite peaceful. No. 3, named "All of Texas," may not have views all the way out to El Paso, but they go far.
The middle portion of the golf course tight-ropes along the forested ridgeline, none more so than the delicate par-3 12th hole, a testy 155-yard shot downhill to a small green with little safe space around it. After this point, Wolfdancer Golf Club flattens out along the river plain and plays along bluffs along the Lower Colorado on No. 17 and the par-5 18th hole the entire way.
Wolfdancer Golf Club: The verdict
Wolfdancer Golf Club is one of the Austin-area's upscale resort courses, in the same category with the three Barton Creek Resort courses just west of Austin, and Horseshoe Bay Resort's three courses a little further out of town. According to Golfweek's golf course rankings, Wolfdancer G.C. is right in the thick of the best public golf courses in Texas.
Expect upper-tier conditioning and service you'd get from a golf course that is associated with a Hyatt resort. The club did have a forecaddie program that was suspended this fall in favor of GPS units in each golf cart. Do not expect a resort course that's easy to score on. You'll get a few breaks in the fairway, but the green complexes are far from easy.
Wolfdancer Golf Club is 20 miles of east of Austin but just a 13-mile straight shot west to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Hwy. 71, making the golf course and resort convenient for business or leisure visitors on travel day.
Stay and play: Hyatt Lost Pines Resort
Wolfdancer occupies about 150 of the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort's 405 acres and is home to a variety of outdoor activities. Horseback riding trails run along certain points of the golf course, and white water rafting is available on Texas' Colorado River.
If you're looking for something closer to the city action and want to stay in downtown Austin (and we don't blame you), stay in a hotel along Town Lake (also part of the Colorado River). Three hotels that are all within a good walk to all of downtown Austin's music and amusements are the Hyatt, Radisson and Four Seasons.
December 14, 2009