The Texas Hill Country

Crystal FallsThe state capital of Austin and the surrounding Hill Country offer visitors and residents as diverse a list of things to see and do as any major population center in the country From the Hill Country’s status as a burgeoning wine region (24 different wineries) to Austin’s well-rooted reputation as America’s “Live Music Capital,” folks won’t find it difficult to occupy their time in this part of Texas.

If you’re kickin’ up your cowboy boots and flipping through the pages of this golf magazine, chances are that you’ve heard the phrase “Stay and Play” plenty of times. Well did you realize that recent rankings and praise from national publications make Austin and The Hill Country an ideal “Stay and Play” combo?

Just prior to the release of this publication, U.S. News & World Report listed Austin as one of the top 10 places in the country to live. Who could disagree, considering the city’s college town charm, strikingly dignified downtown, moderate climate and bustling social scene?

After the New York Times hailed the Hill Country as the No. 1 spot on its “31 Places to go this Summer” list in 2008, the secret was out about this rugged yet cosmopolitan destination that caters to the crowd who likes to get down and dirty outdoors, yet can clean up and enjoy a fine bottle of wine while reveling in the late afternoon sun.

Vaaler Creek golf club in Blanco, Texas

Of course these activities are just ancillary pursuits for those of you who are here to discover the dozens of championship-caliber golf courses throughout this region. In 2008, Golf.com called Austin America’s No. 1 golf city, and you’ll get no argument from the thousands of avid players who consistently flock to area fairways to escape the stresses of the day.

Austin golf is steeped in tradition, as some of the very best have started their careers in this fine city, including Justin Leonard, Ben Crenshaw and legendary teacher Harvey Penick, who became the assistant golf professional at Austin Country Club at the ripe old age of 13.

Flying L Guest RanchLocated just west of Austin, Falconhead Golf Club became the first-ever golf course laid out by architects from the PGA Tour design center when it opened in 2003. This tournament-caliber golf course is an excellent addition to the city’s already impressive roster of layouts.

Another Austin-area favorite is Avery Ranch Golf Club, which is located within the city limits but characterized as more of a Hill Country golf course. This Andy Raugust creation (formerly designed by Jack Nicklaus) is a spectacular, scenic, up-scale facility that has been voted by Golf Digest as one of its “Best Places to Play.” The course recently introduced a new fleet of state-of-the-art EZ-Go golf carts equipped with ProLink GPS technology.

The picturesque Hill Country is loaded with riding trails, honky-tonks, historic towns and open fields dotted with wildflowers. Of course there are a number of acclaimed golf courses throughout the area, and we’d like to highlight three of the best for you to visit.

The Club at ConCanHead to Hutto for an “All-Inclusive Golf Experience” at the Golf Club at Star Ranch, a 7,017-yard par-71 layout considered the best value in the Austin area. If such a thing as “Hill Country Links-style golf” exists, The Golf Club at Star Ranch is the model.

Tucked away in Meadowlakes, Hidden Falls is an 18-hole course ideal for all skill levels. This inviting 6,600-yard gem meanders over 100 well-kept acres in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. This scenic countryside course was built upon hilly terrain and features two distinct nines; the front cut out of a pecan grove and the back lush and full of water hazards.

Located in tiny but historic Leander, Crystal Falls is a classic Hill Country design carved out of the rolling countryside that promises to be enjoyable for the novice player, but challenge a scratch golfer.

 

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