University of Texas Golf Club: Drive. Slice. Hook 'Em

The University of Texas Golf ClubIn 2003 the University of Texas Golf Club, with its rolling hills, panoramic views of the Texas Hill Country and lush fairways, opened to considerable acclaim.

But after initial rounds by some of the nation's best collegiate players, and a few Touring pros, the course's management noticed that the rolling terrain was aiding already lengthly drives, which were catching favorable slopes and plummeting down the course's fairways. In other words, the distance on the card of 7,150 yards wasn't quite measuring up in real life.

That all changed when the course underwent a significant makeover in 2005. Almost 300 yards of length was added, along with more contouring and new bunkering. The remake was completed in 2007, and only two holes - Nos. 14 and 16 - were left unchanged.

"Whereas you used to have a lot of wedges in your hands, now you have long irons," said UT Men's golf coach John Fields following the completion of the redesign project. "It's a signifcant test now, and it's become probably one of the best golf courses in Central Texas because of that."

During May's NCAA Division I Men's Golf Regional played at the club, the scores registered by the 70-plus competitors in the tournament proved that the course was now a force to be reckoned with.

University of Texas Golf Club

Three days of stroke play golf produced only one under-par total, indicating that the real star of the regional competition was the Roy Bechtol-designed course.

Only University of Texas junior Lance Lopez, the medalist, posted a three-round score at or under par, as he shot a 4-under-par 209 (68-69-72) on the 7,412-yard, par-71 championship track to beat Florida's Billy Horschel by five strokes.

Horschel had the only sub-par finish in the final round, shooting a 1-under 70 in rainy and windy conditions, to lead the Gators to the team title with a score of 22-over-par 874, in the process holding off Texas Tech by two strokes (24-over 876) and Texas by three (25-over 877).

Inclement weather plagued the final round May 16 and play was suspended for two and a half hours before resuming with cool and damp conditions prevailing the rest of the afternoon. The event finished in the gloaming.

University of Texas Golf Club"The difficulty of this golf course, combined with the winds of the first two rounds and the wind, rain and cool of the final round, was the deciding factor of this tournament," Fields said. "We play this course all the time and we know how good it is. By the third round, the players on the other teams in this tournament had a better understanding of where to hit shots and how the course will play, and it still beat most of them."

The course was a collaboration between Bechtol, who is a mainstay on the University of Texas, and former partner Ray Russell. Bechtol is a former University of Texas baseball player, and his father Hub was the only consensus four-time football All-America as a receiver in the late 1940s.

He said that being associated with the building of the UT Golf Club and the University of Texas on such a high-profile project was "a dream come true."

"We designed this course to be a stern, but fair, test of golf for all levels of play, and with this result we have the idea that most of the things we did at the UT Golf Club were right on target," Bechtol said. "This course and the club are indicative of the University of Texas's drive to always have the best facilities and go first-class across the board. We are very privileged to be a part of the extended University of Texas family and very proud of this course."

Fields and representatives of the UT Golf Club have aggressively courted the 2012 men's golf national championship, and a representative of the NCAA committee that examines bids and decides such matters attended the Austin regional during the final round.

University of Texas Golf Club

Jack Key, an assistant commissioner of the Southland Conference and part of the six-member committee that selects NCAA sites, studied the course, its amenities, the volunteer base and overall flow of the 54-hole regional at the UT Golf Club. He said he came away satisfied even as the course auditioned under rather extreme circumstances.

"What we want is a true test of golf," Key told the Austin American-Statesman. "We want par to be a good score. The golf course held up. It was a fair test."

Two and a half inches of rain fell during a morning weather delay May 16, and tournament officials considered canceling the final round. Nonetheless, Key got to see UTGC's drainage efficiency.

University of Texas Golf ClubKey said the clubhouse, locker room and practice facilities at UTGC were "as good as it gets."

Fields was excited about having the first men's NCAA regional at UT Golf Club.

"The truth about The University of Texas Golf Club is it is absolutely a great course," Fields said. "Players and coaches will go away from this tournament with a real appreciation of the course's strength and character. We believe we have one of the best golf courses in the nation, and for that we owe a lot to Roy Bechtol and Randy Russell for their design and expertise and love for this project."

The University of Texas Golf Club is located in the Texas Hill Country some 15 miles west of the University of Texas campus, nestled between Lake Austin and Lake Travis in Steiner Ranch. The course overlooks Lake Austin and borders the Balcones National Wildlife Preserve, offering challenging shots and views that rival the best in Austin.

 

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