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:
18-hole, par 71 course
Length of 6,611 yards
Course rating of 72.0
Slope rating of 128
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.
A nationwide swing-honing syndicate, GolfTEC attacks ineffective golf techniques with a patented Five Factor approach that harnesses technological resources to boil golf's subtle motions into an objective, data-based science. GolfTEC Austin's staff of PGA-certified aces stays true to the mission in each lesson, as they assess swings with video analysis and compare them to a database of the swing profiles of more than 150 Tour players, which provides a sounder frame of reference than simply swinging in front of a mirror or seeking wisdom from a cardboard cutout of Jack Nicklaus. Pros then pinpoint areas for improvement and build on them in video-based sessions, reinforcing effective motions while helping clients better understand the mechanical elements of the golf swing. GolfTEC even helps their charges bolster their swing out of the studio with their online Player Performance Studio, which contains each players' golf lesson history, past swing videos, and custom-tailored drills that pupils can access 24/7 to prepare for an upcoming outing or seek comfort after slicing the ball repeatedly into the waters of chaos in a vivid nightmare.
The history of the four 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.
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. Lions features traditional tree-lined fairways, whereas Roy 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.
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.