Back in the Swing Lago Vista Offers Great Golf Times Two

By Steve Habel, Special to Golfers’ GuideSome 45 minutes north and east of downtown Austin on the upper banks of Lake Travis, the dual golf courses at Lago Vista Golf Club are enjoying a resurgence or sorts, thanks to a infusion of money from the city of Lago Vista and renewed attention to great conditioning and solid value.

That hasn’t always been the case at the two courses that were formerly the drawing card of the Lago Vista County Club. Both tracks – the 6,579-yard namesake course and its more demanding younger brother, the 6,529-yard Highland Lakes Golf Course – had fallen on hard times due to mismanagement and spotty maintenance through the first eight years of the 21st century.

But in a broad initiative that changed both golf and the quality of life in its municipality, the City of Lago Vista bought first the Lago Vista GC in July 2008 and then Highland Lakes in the fall of 2009.

Both are on their way back to being on the short list of fun and demanding courses in the Austin suburbs, but it’s been a lot of work getting things back to where they are now even before they are back to where everyone wants them to be.

When the city got its hands on the Lago Vista track, it was, according to Zach Padgett, Lago Vista’s director of golf, “a poor golf course. The course was still being played but just not being properly taken care of,” he said. “We made some changes that made the course more playable – we widened fairways, changed cuts around the greens and resodded a handful of greens.”

Lago Vista Golf Club was redesigned by Leon Howard and opened for play in 1971 as a nine-hole facility to help promote lot sales in the young, unincorporated neighborhoods that make up the city of Lago Vista today. It was expanded to 18 holes under the guidance of Howard (who also was the architect of Morris Williams GC in Austin, both the Live Oak and Yaupon GCs at the Lakeway Resort and Hidden Falls GC in Meadowlakes) and operated as a private country club until the mid 1990s.

The city’s maintenance staff has been working feverishly to get the Highland Lakes course back on line after finding the track overgrown to the extreme and in general disrepair. Howard also fashioned the Highland Lakes GC, and golf architect Dave Bennett reworked all the greens and several of the fairways when he renovated the course in 1989.

Highland Lakes Golf Course is the tougher of the two tracks – it’s tighter off the tee, has more hills and will be less forgiving to those that hit wayward shots. The course has a number of holes with forced carries that bring beautiful rock outcroppings into play, and has – by far – the better views of Lake Travis.

Expect a different experience at Highland Lakes GC, even from the one golfers enjoyed before the course was shut down and went to back to nature.

At either course, expect to see abundant wildlife and enjoy down-home hospitality, be it from the great golf or the $2 beers and topnotch burgers served up in the clubhouse grill. It’s time to give the courses at Lago Vista another try.


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