First Tee Program Becomes an Austin Fixture

By David R. Holland, Contributor

AUSTIN, TX -- World Golf Hall of Famer Ben Crenshaw and his wife Julie joined Mayor Gus Garcia and City Council member Will Wynn in groundbreaking festivities for The First Tee of Greater Austin's permanent home on the grounds of the East Communities YMCA this summer.

Austin's First Tee program has been conducting programming at municipal courses since 1999 and more than 1,000 children have participated in programs since The First Tee of Greater Austin was founded.

The First Tee of Greater Austin's golf learning facility will feature an interactive learning center, a 9-hole course, a 3-hole short course, a driving range and practice putting and chipping greens. Joe Walter, PGA Tour Design Services, designed the course and Golf Works, Inc. of Austin is the builder.

"This will be a course where kids and beginners can get out and learn the game without worrying about holding up play," said Jennifer MacCurrach, executive director of The First Tee of Greater Austin. The course will have designated times just for families.

Celebrating its fifth year of operation, The First Tee currently has 85 golf learning facilities open and operating across North America that are dedicated to impacting the lives of young people. The First Tee is a World Golf Foundation initiative dedicated to providing affordable golf access for everyone, especially kids, who otherwise might not have an opportunity to play.

Lake Austin Spa Resort

After a successful first-ever Lake Austin Spa Resort Golf School, a command performance will take place this fall, from Sept. 8-12. "Tee to Green, Swinging in Harmony" presents golf school for women as never before - in a nurturing environment that is inspired by, and incorporates the destination spa's surroundings.

The program has two distinct programs, each one totally focused on either the beginner or experienced golfer. The four-night golf programs are unique in their offering of a professional golf school in a full service destination spa environment, so the very best of golf instruction is presented along with programs and activities that focus on relaxation, rejuvenation and restoration.

One round of golf is included in the program for experienced golfers; an additional round is available for an additional fee. Courses for play vary daily, and include: Flintrock Falls, a new course co-designed by Jack Nicklaus and his son Jack Nicklaus II, and River Place, a Tom Kite design and the golf club where the lessons will be held.

For information or reservations call 800-847-5637 or 512-372-7360 in the U.S., or 800-338-6651 in Canada; e-mail: or visit

2002 World Cup Golf in Puerto Vallarta

The 3rd EMC World Golf Championship will be a two-man competition featuring the best players from 24 countries around the world and you can come to Puerto Vallarta for the event. The event was won by Tiger Woods and David Duvall in 2000.

Scheduled for Dec. 10-15, 2002, you can make Viva Vallarta your home for the event. The resort is located just 40 minutes from Vista Vallarta Golf Club where the championship will be played.

This event will be televised in countries around the globe on ABC and ESPN. The EMC World Golf Championship will also be shown on televisions at Viva Vallarta for those guests who are unable to purchase tickets.

Vista Vallarta is a 36-hole facility overlooking beautiful Puerto Vallarta at the base of the Sierra Madre Mountains. The course opened in April 2001, and this will be the first major, professional competition played on the par-72 course.

Tickets cost $184 and include entry to all five days of the event and ground transportation from central parking lots to the course. Tickets for individual days are not available. To purchase tickets for the event or for more information call 1-866-809-3127.

Viva Vallarta rests on the Pacific coast of Mexico, surrounded by 15 acres of lush, botanical gardens. For reservations, call toll free 800-898-9968. Visit Viva Resorts on the World Wide Web at Send e-mail to

New Golf Course Openings

Jack Nicklaus came to the Hill Country in 1981 and designed The Hills of Lakeway. Now he's back. Flintrock Falls, a private course, is set to open on Sept. 17, and is part of The Hills of Lakeway and was co-designed by son Jack Nicklaus II.

No other private country club in Central Texas gives members access to 36 championship holes by Nicklaus Design. Hurst Creek, which becomes part of The Falls golf course and the Flintrock Falls community, is punctuated by a series of cascading waterfalls which create one of the most memorable and captivating environments Hill Country has to offer.

Flintrock Falls is located approximately 18 miles west of Austin in the City of Lakeway. Call toll free 877-263-3500 for more information or log on to or

Blaketree National Golf Club is now open. The culmination of a dream by the late Thomas W. Blake, this course measures 7,236-yards, is a par 71 on 175 acres of Sandy Branch Ranch seven miles north of the town of Magnolia in Montgomery County (northwest of Houston).

Blake was a Rice University golfer who led the Owls to the Southwest Conference title in 1929 and 1930.

Lantana Golf Club, a Jay and Carter Morrish design on the rolling hills of southern Denton Country, is now open. Lantana maximizes the wooded terrain and natural beauty of the land, and has a country club atmosphere. It measures 7,100 yards on a heavily wooded area of this 1,718-acre master-planned community.

"Playing Lantana is actually like playing two different courses," Jay Morrish explains. "There are wide open spaces -- almost like meadows -- and there are heavily wooded holes with changes in elevation. And the high flashed faces of the bunkers not only add to the beauty of the course, but they improve the playing experience."

Lantana includes a par-three island green surrounded by water, on the 15th, which slopes 165 yards downhill from tee to green. Call 940-728-GOLF or log on to for more information.

Timber Creek Golf Club in Friendswood has opened its third nine holes. The first 18 measured 6,600 yards and the third stretches to 3,500 yards. Fish Creek in Montgomery has also unveiled its third nine holes.

Another new opening in the Houston area is Wildcat Golf Club, south of Loop 610 on Alameda Road. The Lakes Course is new and is the sister of the Highlands Course, which opened late in 2001.

This and That

Cowboys Golf Club was recently shut down for three weeks for repair work on the greens. A cold winter caused the TifEagle surfaces damage that even new sod didn't fix. The course is scheduled to open again on July 22.

The Houston Golf Association has re-elected Gary Hill as its president. Timms was instrumental in moving the Shell Houston Open to Redstone Golf Club.

The new head pro at Heritage Ranch sports a name familiar to the golf community. Tony Trevino, son of PGA star Lee Trevino, has come back home to the Metroplex after leaving The Golf Club of Texas in San Antonio.

Courses under construction or planning: Wildhorse Golf Club, at Robson Ranch outside of Denton, has nine holes open with another nine under construction.

Lake Jackson in Brazoria County has been trying to get an upscale, affordable, daily-fee course for years. The Wilderness, designed by Brauer, has finally gotten an ok from the city council after years of environmental stop signs. Voters chipped in $6 million back in 1997.

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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