Three-time Masters Champion Jimmy Demaret states, “I simply followed the natural features of the land” to explain the genesis of his brainchild, the Onion Creek Club. Here 18 holes of championship golf—designed by course architects Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore—sprawl alongside tennis courts and a clubhouse with a fitness center and junior-Olympic-size swimming pool. The par-70 course’s claim to fame is having hosted the inaugural Senior PGA event in 1978, four years after the greens’ bermuda grass first whimpered under cleated feet. Its signature third hole invites golfers to play aggressively with their drivers in order to vault orbs onto a landing strip guarded by trees and a creek, or to grip their irons and aim for a narrow green that has notoriously uncommunicative air-traffic controllers.
In addition to the course and its accompanying driving range with 30 hitting stations, Onion Creek Club invites racket-wielders to take advantage of lighted hard and clay tennis courts. The clubhouse’s fitness center challenges muscles with Cybex strength machines, and its junior-Olympic-size pool allows 9 irons to slip into their bikinis and go for a splash.
At River Place Country Club, a championship golf course designed by Jay Morrish and Tom Kite, winner of the 1992 U.S. Open, invites golfers to launch balls over sand bunkers and twisting creeks that wend their way through the landscape’s hilly contours. The course’s superintendent draws on experience at Baton Rouge Country Club and Colonial Country Club, as well as a degree in Plant and Soil Systems, as he ensures that the greens and rolling Bermuda grass fairways are more carefully manicured than a prize-winning pet wooly mammoth. The course’s PGA professional instructors are on hand to improve individual games, and a driving range lets players practice at 15 hitting stations.
Adjacent to the course, eight lighted tennis courts abut a 40,000-square-foot clubhouse with an outdoor pool, fully equipped fitness center, and locker rooms whose dry saunas and whirlpools melt tension quicker than butter melts on the calves of a sprinter. The Grille invites clubgoers to sup on steak or seafood, and a pair of outdoor decks let guests drink in scenic views.
Course at a Glance:
The history of the five full-length municipal golf courses that make up Austin Public Links spans a good portion of the history of the city itself. The story begins with the Hancock Golf Course, a short nine-holer founded in 1899 and named for former Austin mayor Lewis Hancock, Jr. The links-style Roy Kizer Golf Course, meanwhile, was named in honor of the longtime superintendent of the Lions Municipal Golf Course, which played host to the likes of Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. In addition, the Morris Williams Golf Course has been newly reopened after heavy renovations, and the Jimmy Clay Golf Course is also available to golfers.
Taken together, the courses cover a wide range of styles?from the hilly 9 holes of Hancock to the 7,023-yard endurance test at Morris Williams. The Jimmy Clay features traditional tree-lined fairways, whereas the Kizer has a links-style layout with 22 acres of wetlands and 37 acres of lakes.
Owner and golf guru Matt Christian brings countless golf, fitness, and club-fitting certifications to Elite Golf Performance, where private lessons pair with video analysis to shave strokes from scorecards. Elite’s expert instructors help students develop simple, routine-based exercises focusing on coordination and consistency, following an Elite Golf Performance mode of instruction espoused by PGA Tour winners and US Open champions. The center also boasts a repertoire of technological teaching aids, allowing players to dissect their technique with video swing analysis.
Since 2007, the Robots-4-U team has been teaching children a program of STEM?science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Children absorb skills and knowledge through entertaining interactions with instructors, other campers, and robot kits. The camp maintains a 16:1 student to instructor ratio, ensuring children receive the proper amount of individual attention. Campers build robot kits comprising a brain unit and sensory appendages, which replicate seeing, hearing, touching and reading minds. Once the bots are assembled, children enter their creations into racing, dancing, and battle-bot challenges.
Golfsmith's online and in-store showrooms house an almost endless list of golf gear for men, women, and children alike. Clubs, balls, and accessories from brands such as TaylorMade, MacGregor, and Callaway give players precise control over their game, and polos and long-sleeved shirts from Nike and Snake Eyes garb players in course-appropriate attire now that tuxedo T-shirts no longer qualify. Along with the extensive collection of equipment and golf bags, Golfsmith also carries GPS systems to give players a high-tech edge.