Course Review: Crystal Falls

I mentioned to a couple of my hard-core golf buddies that I was going to travel over to Leander to play their municipal course. I got the usual reaction from them: the little smirks and the knowing nods. “Old Mike’s gonna go play himself an EASY cour e to get his self esteem back after playing a few of these private and semi-private links. . .” although it’s not entirely accurate, most munis are stereotyped as “pushovers.” The thinking is that the City builds the course with the high handicapper in mind so that it will appeal to the largest number of their citizens and visitors.

I can now tell you, from first hand experience, that Leander’s beautiful Crystal Falls golf course does not fit that stereotype. It’s got teeth; and it shows them. The unwary golfer who’s looking for an easy play and an opportunity to lower his or her handicap better select another muni.

What makes Crystal Falls so challenging? Let me count the ways: 1) Very narrow fairways; 2) Roughs that are knee-high in bad grass; 3) Blind shot opportunities on three out of every four holes; 4) Very few level lies except the tee boxes; 5) Greens running 10-11 on the Stimpmeter. I won’t even bring up a couple of the par-3s that offer 150 foot drops directly down from tee box to green; or the canyons (not creek beds, folks; canyons!) filled with nasty, ball-hiding things which guarantee that even if you can find the ball, the lie will be unplayable.

So, you say, why bother playing it? You play Crystal Falls because it’s drop-dead gorgeous. The greens and fairways are perfectly groomed. The views of the Hill Country are spectacular from many of the tee boxes. Wildlife abounds; we played several holes with deer and wild turkey looking on (and I think a couple of them were laughing!). You play CF because you’d like to test your golf game against one of the most challenging courses around. Maybe you’ve gotten a little too big for your knickers, whacking around your home course with your single digit handicap. Crystal Falls will bring you right back down to earth.

This par-72 course is not long: 6654 from the blue tees; 6164 from the whites; and 5194 from the reds. It’s rated at a 72.3, with the slope gauged at 126. All four of the par-5s are over 500 yards from the blue tees, with the 549-yard 18th being the longest. The ten par-4s are generally fairly short; only 4 of them are over 400 yards, and the par-3s run from 160 yards out to 192. Water comes into play on 10 of the 18 holes, but with the current drought, several of the water holes have become dry lakes, and the creek beds are mostly dry but still vicious!

Crystal Falls has all the amenities: snack bar, putting green, driving range, on-site PGA professional, on-board GPS units in each cart, and a very nice, recently renovated club house.

You can call and make your tee time reservation up to 5 days in advance: (512) 259-5855. Rates vary, but are very reasonable, and there are “specials” running quite frequently. Just ask about them when you get your tee time.


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