Barton Creek Resort takes Austin to the city limits

By Erik PetersonJune 1, 2009, 4:00 pm
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barton creek no 18
No. 18 at the Fazio Foothills course at Barton Creek is one of the toughest par-5s in Texas

AUSTIN, Texas ' If a geographer were to pinpoint the epicenter of Texas Hill Country, he or she would probably point to somewhere near Austin, the capital city of the Lone Star State. After all, the scenery here is perhaps the best in Texas.
And while the views are a tourist attraction in and of themselves, the golf is even better.
With four golf courses and a luxurious chateau-style hotel, Barton Creek Resort & Spa is the crown jewel of Austin and the surrounding Texas Hill Country. The resort houses two courses ' the Crenshaw Cliffside and Fazio Foothills. Together they hosted the Canadian Tour Barton Creek Austin Classic. Off-property are two more courses ' the Palmer Lakeside and Fazio Canyons.
The Fazio courses stand alone as the only two in Texas that appear on Golf Magazine's 'Top 100 Courses You Can Play.' Each course offers a unique blend of scenery and difficulty you won't find anywhere else in America.
For you, the traveling golfer, heres what to expect from each course:
Barton Creek Resort & Spa
Web site
How to get there
From Austin-Bergstrom Airport head west on TX-71 for 9 mi. Make slight left to stay on S Capital of Texas Hwy. Take Bee Cave Rd. exit, turn left. After one mile, turn left at Barton Creek Rd. Resort is 1.8 mi. on left.
312 guest rooms, suites and villas. Cowhide desk chairs, hardwood floor entries and plasma TVs are luxurious.
How to play it
Unlimited stay-and-play packages on the Fazio courses start at $211 / night. Unlimited Crenshaw and Palmer packages start at $170. Check the website for full details.
19th hole
County Line is a mainstay atop many magazine 'Best-of' lists. Located on Bee Caves Rd., 15 minutes from the resort.
Fazio Foothills
With its wide variety, the Fazio Foothills course is vintage Tom Fazio. Whats unique about it, however, is the degree to which the natural landscape is incorporated. Fazio didnt move as much dirt as he normally does, which gives the Fazio Foothills course a rugged feel.
The topography Tom saw when he got here is essentially whats here today, said Justin Kutz, head golf professional at Barton Creek Resort & Spa.
As a byproduct of the rugged design, Fazio Foothills is also quite difficult (74.0/138). Several holes, including the long par-5 5th, cause the player to be strategic ' and accurate ' with their shots. Hitting the fairway here is manageable, but players must then decide which shelf theyll lay up to. The upper shelf is a bigger target, but requires a tougher shot to the hazard-protected green, while the smaller, lower level gives way to a more conventional approach shot. Its a pick-your-poison design characteristic thats challenging yet enjoyable.
Like most great golf courses, theres more than one signature hole at Fazio Foothills. The par-3 9th, however, stands alone as the prettiest. At 175 yards from the tips it doesnt require a difficult shot, but those who get too caught up in the scenery meet a watery grave. A deep, rocky crevasse drops down short left of the green, with a rushing waterfall providing the backdrop to a hole known as one of the best par-3s in Texas.
As scenic and challenging as the front nine might seem, the back nine is even better, and true to many Fazio designs, it closes with an outstanding par-5. Your most accurate drive of the day is required here if you want any chance of finishing strong. Second shots must be directed to the layup area left, avoiding an abandoned bat cave that protects a severely elevated green. The chateau-style hotel serves as a dramatic backdrop.
As the saying goes, a closing birdie makes the post-round beer taste colder, but if you can muster a par at the Fazio Foothills 18th youll no doubt feel like toasting your efforts.
Fazio Canyons
In 1999 ' 10 years after completing Fazio Foothills ' Fazio took his design expertise two miles down Barton Creek Blvd. to the site of what would become Fazio Canyons. Fazio Canyons is also home to the Barton Creek Golf Academy, one of the leading instructional facilities in Texas.
barton creek canyons 18
No one has ever finished a Texas Amateur under par at Fazio Canyons
For all thats made of the toughness of the Fazio Foothills course, Fazio Canyons is actually more difficult (75.4/138). After the first three holes you might not think so, but when you stand on the tee at the short-but-tricky par-4 4th, the sleeping giant that is Fazio Canyons awakens. A premium is placed on accuracy at No. 4. The left side is guarded by numerous bunkers as well as a steep drop-off. Approach shots must avoid two more greenside bunkers that protect a narrow green.
The no. 1 handicap hole is No. 9, an uphill par-4 with a creek running from the green back toward you. If you can make par here, youll have positive vibes heading into the back nine.
No. 10 completes a rarity in which the two lowest-handicap holes come back-to-back. At this severe dogleg right par-4, players must play their tee shots out to the left and then hit a tiny green thats protected by a cross-cutting creek. Its one of the toughest turns in golf this side of Bethpage Black.
If you manage to make it to No. 18 with your dignity still intact, theres still an excellent chance to lose it at the home hole, an awesome par-5. After a great drive, players will be enticed to go for the green in two, but the same creek thats reachable for long hitters off the tee meanders back in front of the green. And if thats not enough, a massive live oak guards the left front of the green. If the pin is front-left, have fun maintaining that dignity you still have.
Crenshaw Cliffside
A consummate student of the game, Austin-resident Ben Crenshaw knew that preserving the natural hill country was key to turning his design into a great golf experience.
Holes like no. 17 are proof that he pulled it off. At this short par-3, players are required to play their tee shots over a deep ravine, to a narrow green. The safe play is long, but shots played this way run the risk of spinning back off the front of the green.
Palmer Lakeside
Located 25 miles west of the main resort, Palmer Lakeside offers a secluded retreat from resort-style golf.
With panoramic views and a multitude of wildlife, it's similar to the other three courses in the Barton Creek Family, but is unique in that it's more forgiving off the tee.
The first tee sits atop a plateau that looks out over the entire course, allowing players an opportunity to survey many of the holes they'll encounter during their round.
The most strategic hole at Palmer Lakeside is no. 16, a moderate-length dogleg par-4. Off the tee, players can take a shortcut as the hole slopes up toward the clubhouse. The less-aggressive approach is down the right side, leaving a mid-iron approach shot over a live oak to the green.
Palmer Lakeside is usually the least-crowded of the four courses at Barton Creek.

LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:56 am

NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.

Parity reigned.

Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.

Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.

Here’s a summary of the big prizes:

Rolex Player of the Year
Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.

It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.

Vare Trophy
Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.

There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.

CME Globe $1 million prize
Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.

By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.

LPGA money-winning title
Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.

The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.

Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking
The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.

Rolex Rookie of the Year
Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

Ko ends first winless season with T-16 at CME

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:07 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko carved a hybrid 3-iron to 15 feet and ended the most intensely scrutinized year of her young career with a birdie Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

“Nice to finish the season on a high note,” Ko said after posting a 3-under-par 69, good for a tie for 16th. “Obviously, not a top-10 finish, but I played really solid. I feel like I finished the season off pretty strong.”

Ko posted two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for fifth in her last eight starts.

“Ever since Indy [in early September], I played really good and put myself in good positions,” Ko said. “I felt like the confidence factor was definitely higher than during the middle of the year. I had some opportunities, looks for wins.”

Sunday marked the end of Ko’s first winless season since she began playing LPGA events at 15 years old.

Let the record show, she left with a smile, eager to travel to South Korea to spend the next month with family after playing a charity event in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.

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Much was made of Ko beginning the year with sweeping changes, with new equipment (PXG), a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and a new caddie (Peter Godfrey).

In the final summary, it wasn’t a Ko-like year, not by the crazy high standards she has set.

She saw her run of 85 consecutive weeks at No. 1 end in June. She arrived in Naples holding on to the No. 8 ranking. She ends the year 13th on the LPGA money list with $1,177,450 in earnings. It’s the first time she hasn’t finished among the top three in money in her four full years on tour. She did log 11 top-10 finishes overall, three second-place finishes.

How did she evaluate her season?

“I feel like it was a better year than everyone else thinks, like `Lydia is in a slump,’” Ko said. “I feel like I played solid.

“It's a season that, obviously, I learned a lot from ... the mental aspect of saying, `Hey, get over the bads and kind of move on.’”

Ko said she learned a lot watching Stacy Lewis deal with her run of second-place finishes after winning so much.

“Winning a championship is a huge deal, but, sometimes, it's overrated when you haven't won,” Ko said. “Like, you're still playing well, but just haven't won. I kind of feel like it's been that kind of year.

“I think everybody has little ups and downs.”

For Ariya, Lexi, finish was fabulous, frustrating

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 12:47 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Lexi Thompson can take a punch.

You have to give her that.

So can Ariya Jutanugarn, who beat Thompson in the gut-wrenching conclusion to the CME Group Tour Championship Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

They both distinguished themselves overcoming adversity this season.

The problem for Thompson now is that she’ll have to wait two months to show her resolve again. She will go into the long offseason with the memory of missing a 2-foot putt for par that could have won her the championship, her first Rolex Player of the Year Award and her first Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Thompson took home the CME Globe $1 million jackpot and Vare Trophy for low scoring as nice consolation prizes, but the Sunday finish was a lot like her season.

It was so close to being spectacular.

She was so close to dominating this year.

That last 2-foot putt Sunday would have put Thompson in the clubhouse at 15 under, with a one-shot lead, which would have added so much more pressure to Jutanugarn as she closed out.

Instead of needing to birdie the final two holes to force a playoff, Jutanugarn only needed to birdie one of them to assure extra holes. She went birdie-birdie anyway.

Thompson was on the practice putting green when she heard the day’s last roar, when Jutanugarn rolled in a 15-foot birdie to beat her.

“It wasn’t the way I wanted to end it,” Thompson said of the short miss. “I don’t really know what happened there. It just happens. I guess it’s golf.”

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Thompson was asked if the weight of everything at stake affected her.

“No, honestly, I wasn’t thinking about it,” she said. “I putted great the whole day. I guess, maybe, there was just a little bit of adrenaline.

“We all go through situations we don’t like sometimes.”

Thompson endured more than she wanted this year.

She won twice, but there were six second-place finishes, including Sunday’s. There were three losses in playoffs.

There was the heart-wrenching blow at the ANA Inspiration, the season’s first major, when she looked as if she were going to run away with the title before getting blindsided by a four-shot penalty in the final round. There were two shots when a viewer email led to a penalty for mismarking her ball on a green in the third round, and two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard.

Thompson was in tears finishing that Sunday at Mission Hills, but she won a legion of new fans in the way she fought back before losing in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

There was more heartache later in the spring, when Thompson’s mother, Judy, was diagnosed with uterine cancer, requiring surgery to remove a tumor and then radiation.

For Thompson fans, Sunday’s missed 2-foot putt was a cruel final blow to the year.

This time, there were no tears from Lexi afterward.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds . . . it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said. “This won’t either.”

After Thompson bounced back from the ANA loss to win the Kingsmill Invitational in May, she acknowledged how the loss motivated her.

“I'm as determined as any other person out here,” Thompson said. “We all want to win. I have a little bit more drive now.”

She was so close this year to elevating herself as the one true rock star in the women’s game. She will have a long offseason to turn Sunday’s disappointment into yet more fuel to get there.

Thompson will prepare for next year knowing Jutanugarn may be ramping her game back up to dominante, too.

Jutanugarn looked as if she were going to become a rock star after winning five times last year to claim the Rolex Player of the Year Award and then rising to No. 1 with a victory at the Manulife Classic back in May, but it didn’t happen.

Jutanugarn struggled through a summer-long slump.

She failed to make a cut in six of seven starts. It wasn’t as miserable a slump as she endured two years ago, when she missed 10 consecutive cuts, but it was troubling.

“Even though I played so badly the last few months, I learned a lot,” Jutanugarn said. “I’m growing up a lot, and I’m really ready to have some fun next year.”

Her surgically repaired shoulder was bothering her again, but it was more than that.

“This time it was more about becoming No. 1,” said Gary Gilchrist, her coach. “I think all of the responsibilities got to her.”

Gilchrist said he could see a different focus in Jutanugarn this week. He credited Vision 54s Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott for helping her deal with all the pressure that has mounted with her growing status.

“It’s been a long process,” Nilsson said. “She’s felt too much expectation from everybody else, where she loses focus on what she can do.”

Marriott said they asked Jutanugarn to come up with something she wanted to do to make herself proud this week, instead of worrying about what would please everyone else.

It worked.

“I told my caddie, Les [Luark], that thinking about the No. 1 ranking wasn’t going to help me be a better golfer,” Jutanugarn said. “I wanted people to say, `Oh this girl, she’s really happy.’ That was my goal, to have fun.”

Late Sunday, hoisting the trophy, Jutanugarn looked like she was having a lot of fun.

Thomas vs. Rose could be Ryder Cup highlight

By Rex HoggardNovember 19, 2017, 11:40 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – For those still digesting the end of 2017 – the European Tour did, after all, just wrap up its season in Dubai on Sunday – consider that the PGA Tour is already nearly one-fifth of the way into a new edition.

The Tour has already crowned eight champions as the game banks into the winter break, and there are some interesting trends that have emerged from the fall.

Dueling Justins: While Justin Thomas picked up where he left off last season, winning the inaugural CJ Cup in October just three weeks after claiming the FedExCup and wrapping up Player of the Year honors; Justin Rose seems poised to challenge for next year’s low Justin honors.

The Englishman hasn’t finished outside the top 10 since August and won back-to-back starts (WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open) before closing his year with a tie for fourth place in Dubai.

Note to U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk: Justin v. Justin next September in Paris could be fun.

Youth served. Just in case anyone was thinking the pendulum might be swinging back in the direction of experience over youthful exuberance – 41-year-old Pat Perez did put the veterans on the board this season with his victory at the CIMB Classic – Patrick Cantlay solidified his spot as genuine phenom.

Following an injury-plagued start to his career, Cantlay got back on track this year, needing just a dozen starts to qualify for the Tour Championship. He went next level earlier this month with his playoff victory at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

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They say these trends come and go in professional golf, but as the average age of winners continues to trend lower and lower it’s safe to say 25 is the new 35 on Tour.

A feel for it. For all the science that has become such a big part of the game – from TrackMan analysis to ShotLink statistics – it was refreshing to hear that Patton Kizzire’s breakthrough victory at the OHL Classic came down to a hunch.

With the tournament on the line and Rickie Fowler poised just a stroke back, Kizzire’s tee shot at the 72nd hole came to rest in an awkward spot that forced him to stand close to his approach shot to keep his feet out of the sand. His 8-iron approach shot sailed to 25 feet and he two-putted for par.

And how far did he have for that pivotal approach?

“I have no idea,” he laughed.

Fall facelift. Although the moving parts of the 2018-19 schedule appear to be still in flux, how the changes will impact the fall schedule is coming into focus.

The Tour’s goal is to end the season on Labor Day, which means the fall portion of the schedule will begin a month earlier than it does now. While many see that as a chance for the circuit to embrace a true offseason, it’s becoming increasingly clear that won’t be the case.

The more likely scenario is an earlier finish followed by a possible team competition, either the Ryder or Presidents cup, before the Tour kicks off a new season in mid-September, which means events currently played before the Tour Championship will slide to the fall schedule.

“So if you slide it back, somebody has to jump ahead. The mechanics of it,” said Davis Love III, host of the RSM Classic and a member of the Tour’s policy board. “I’m still going to go complain and beg for my day, but I also understand when they say, this is your date, make it work, then we'll make it work.”

While 2019 promises to bring plenty of change to the Tour, know that the wraparound season and fall golf are here to stay.

Product protection. Speaking of the fall schedule and the likely plan to expand the post-Tour Championship landscape, officials should also use the platform to embrace some protections for these events.

Consider that the RSM Classic featured the third-strongest field last week according to the Official World Golf Ranking, behind the season-ending tournament in Dubai on the European Tour and the Dunlop Phoenix on the Japan Golf Tour.

The winner in Dubai received 50 World Ranking points, a marquee event that has historically been deeper than that week’s Tour stop, while the Dunlop Phoenix winner, Brooks Koepka, won 32 points. Austin Cook collected 30 points for his victory at Sea Island Resort.

All told, the Japan event had four players in the field from the top 50 in the world, including world No. 4 Hideki Matsuyama; while the highest-ranked player at the RSM Classic was Matt Kuchar at 15th and there were seven players from the top 50 at Sea Island Resort.

Under Tour rules, Koepka, as well as any other Tour members who competed either in Japan or Dubai, had to be granted conflicting-event releases by the circuit.

Although keeping players from participating in tournaments overseas is not an option, it may be time for the circuit to reconsider the conflicting-event policy if the result is a scenario like last week that relegates a Tour event to third on the international dance card.