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:
A majestic, 18-hole course encircles the stately grounds of Balcones Country Club, whisking golfers to an elysian landscape of dense tree lines and large, rippling waterways. The Balcones Course, features the club’s signature hole, a 155-yard par 3 where tee shots must clear a vast water hazard and a central fountain that spews the liberated souls of drowned golf balls. The club prepares greenhorn golfers with a bevy of classes offered through their golf academy, which range from typical private lessons to fitness programs offered by Titleist Performance Institute–certified trainers. A classroom equipped with video swing-analysis technology hosts intense investigations into corrupt swings, and a double-sided, lighted driving range fosters late-night reflections on whether or not golf balls are simply fallen stars.
A more frenetic pace of competition takes stage on the 10 courts that billet Balcones Country Club’s tennis program, and scampering tykes and weary adults can retreat to the club’s two outdoor pools for a more relaxing setting. Guests can fuel up for a day of recreation with a quick bite at the onsite grill or engage the community in the elegant, 250-capacity banquet hall.
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.
The Austin Park and Recreation department oversees the operation and upkeep of a diverse array of facilities serving the local community, including parks, swimming pools, golf courses, playgrounds, and tennis courts. Visitors can engage in outdoor activities to nurture an appreciation for natural surroundings and add to a burgeoning stick collection, or join artistic programs such as community theater and arts education. The department attained national accreditation from the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies, one of just 89 nationwide to receive the honor.
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.