Texas-sized discovery: Hyatt Regency Lost Pines and Wolfdancer Golf Club in Lost Pines

By Travel ArticlesJune 5, 2012, 4:00 am

LOST PINES, Texas -- Finding Lost Pines -- a 6,000-acre region of rolling land beside the Colorado River littered with loblolly pines between Bastrop and Austin -- isn't so hard these days.

Simply take the main road east from Austin, Highway 71, towards Austin-Bergstrom Airport and keep going 13 miles east until you see the entrance to the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines on the left.

This most unique region of the state has been well known by those in the 'Texas Triangle' for years. And especially so since 2006, when the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines and Wolfdancer Golf Club debuted. Families and corporate groups have escaped their city lives for nature, far removed from city life and where the evening stars still shine bright.

While Lost Pines and Bastrop are especially popular spots regionally, this area was in national headlines last year for tragic reasons, as wildfires from the 2011 summer drought destroyed nearly 600 homes in Bastrop, as well as 96 percent of the treasured forest in Bastrop State Park. (Though the nine-hole golf course was miraculously spared.)

Luckily, the fires never spread to Lost Pines and Wolfdancer, several miles east of the fire's epicenter. These acres are still shady, littered with wildlife, wildflowers -- plus countless ways to enjoy it all.

Much more than golf at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines

While the Austin area's Barton Creek Resort and Horseshoe Bay boast four golf courses each, Hyatt Regency Lost Pines is home to just 18 holes at Wolfdancer Golf Club. (Wolfdancer also offers public tee times, while the other two only allow play from resort guests.)

It would certainly be easy to find enough land out here for another course or two, as the 405-acre resort is just part of an 1,100-acre nature preserve and science center, McKinney Roughs. But golf here is just one of many ways to take in the outdoors in this unique piece of Texas.

The resort hangs its 10-gallon hat on displaying the best of what makes the state unique, from numerous dining venues that celebrate Texas cuisine to offering outdoor fun of all sorts. Activities are especially family-friendly, with petting zoos, horseback riding and a large pool area and a water park large enough to accommodate 495 occupied guest rooms on a summer day. Organized day camps, rock climbing and even a kid's spa aim to keep kids off the couch and under the sun.

Adults, meanwhile, can find plenty of relaxation and dining sophistication, plus evening movies and shows under the stars. Or retreat to a quiet and secluded pool at Spa Django that overlooks the golf course before or after a massage or beauty treatment. Miles of trails can also be explored from the foot of the resort at the base of the Lower Colorado River. The river can also be explored with kayaking excursions, fishing and sunset floats.

Wolfdancer Golf Club

Calling the acres at Lost Pines suitable for golf would be an understatement for Wolfdancer Golf Club, as part of the land beside the river was acquired from local golfing legend Marjorie 'Tiny' Leach. Leach not only owned a western store in Austin but also won the State Amateur Women's title.

A yardage more than 7,200 yards to go along with a slope/rating of 76.1/137 means the course competes with the sternest of golf courses from Austin to Houston. But what should really strike the eye of golfers from any set of tees is Wolfdancer's various playing environments.

Several holes, such as the par-5 third hole, play on exposed high ground that make for the property's best views. Others play through rolling, forested land, such as the par-5 fifth, that substitutes long views for its own secluded, forested fairway corridor. After the elevated, short, par-3 12th hole, the remaining holes play on low ground beside the river.

While the course demands plenty of muscle, the routing presents lots of breathers. The back nine, for example, has two short par 4s, the 11th and 15th holes. And while two par 5s flirt with 600 yards in length, the course's finale is the shortest of the four at 535 yards; an easy green light to reach the green in two with a good drive and cooperating wind direction.

Before or after the round, the clubhouse is home to the restaurant Major Neighbor's, which serves up breakfast tacos, fried pickles and plenty else to go along with a most sensory Texas golf experience.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.