In Austin, the allure of the Texas Hill Country is right in your backyard at Barton Creek Resort & Spa

By Brandon TuckerJanuary 29, 2013, 5:04 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Barton Creek, the long, winding greenbelt that flows from the Hill County toward the heart of the state capital is a Central Texas staple as much as barbecue and Willie Nelson.

It's a source for outdoor activities in all seasons. During the cooler months, hikers and mountain bikers and even rock climbers make use of the trails and limestone rock walls. In the summer, shady swimming holes fill up with dogs and their owners and their coolers to relax on a hot afternoon. For golfers, the creek is the centerpiece for a prized foursome of courses at Barton Creek Resort & Spa to be enjoyed year round: the Tom Fazio-designed Canyons and Foothills Courses, plus additional designs by Ben Crenshaw and Arnold Palmer.

Barton Creek delivers a luxury resort for visitors to the Hill Country as well as private club experience for those who call here home. The AAA Four Diamond hotel, operated by KSL, has 312 guest rooms, while there are over 1,000 golf memberships, managed by ClubCorp, in addition to social memberships that are included with surrounding real estate. Both members and resort guests enjoy the property's tennis, spa, dining, pools, hiking trails and 72 holes of golf. It may sound like a lot on one property. Rest assured, the development has a Texas-sized 4,000 acres at its disposal. Also, the fact it's a mix of residents and visitors tends to give the whole place more of a relaxed and less-touristy vibe. 

Before resort-goers wonder if members have the upper-hand here, allow me to drop a brief anecdote of our stay: Upon a mere mention that I'd recently been engaged when booking the night's stay, a welcome tray of sweets and fruit with congratulations greeted us in our room. We were also unexpectedly delivered a little celebratory champagne and dessert at the end of our dinner in the Hill Country Dining Room. Apparently, word gets around of such occasions. 

'It's about operating in such a proactive mindset,' said Michael Sizemore, the new Club Director at Barton Creek. 'That you're able to anticipate and blow people's minds.'

Off-course resort amenities are highlighted by the Three Springs Spa, set in a wing of the resort that accented with local limestone and spring water. The fitness center is 11,000 square feet and offers group exercise and yoga classes, while the spa treatment menu is a vast one, ranging from sports to rejuvenation and relaxation therapies. 

True Texas Hill Country golf at Barton Creek

Crenshaw Cliffside

The Crenshaw Cliffside at Barton Creek Resort & Spa

The flagship of the four courses at Barton Creek, the Fazio Foothills still holds its own with the best golf courses in the Hill Country, thanks in part to a 2004 refresh of the course that originally opened in 1986. Dazzling elevated tee shots and fairways that hug high ground overlooking distant green expanses is the norm. Other holes, like the play along creeks, while Fazio crafts greens set beside small waterfalls. From the 18th tee, you'll notice the hotel and clubhouse is still well above you - a reminder that you've got a long way to go, uphill on this 560-yard brute of a finishing hole. Fazio was invited back for an encore and crafted the Fazio Canyons in 2000 to round out the foursome.

It would be darn near Texas sacrilege to not invite native Austinite Ben Crenshaw, Masters winner-turned top golf course designer, to lend a course to Barton Creek. He did so on the Crenshaw Cliffside in 1991, one of his earliest designs in his budding relationship with architect Bill Coore. While it's shorter and open from tee-to-green, the legendary putter laid down a set of large, swooping greens that can befuddle even the best flat sticks to pass through town.

For those who want a taste of Hill Country golf out towards Lake Travis, Barton Creek has a club-style course, the Palmer Lakeside, designed by Arnold Palmer in 1986. Located about 25 miles west of the hotel, the resort offers shuttle service for guests who book a tee time.

Window Shopping: Golf for every budget in Austin

Dining at Barton Creek: Hill Country Dining Room

Hill Country Dining Room

Austin is a foodie kind of town, and in true Texas style, the menu at the Hill Country Dining Room is robust. Breakfast here is a sight to behold; a buffet so large it needs its own room and complete with numerous chefs on-hand to cook omelets or virtually anything else, yet quick enough to get to your morning tee time.

Dinner time here is an entirely different affair, more slow-paced with live piano and an extensive wine and cocktail list, so plan on making a night of it. On the menu, Texas staples like Chili BBQ stuffed quail or Prime Grade A black Angus filet or Ribeye. Should you save room for the desert, order up the Bananas Flambe, cooked up right at your table, with the spark for flames coming from a dash of Bacardi 151.

Unlimited Golf packages at Barton Creek

Golf nuts who want to play as much golf as daylight allows should check out one of Barton Creek's Unlimited Golf Packages. Rates vary by season, but by booking unlimited golf, you'll be sure to get all the golf you can play from sunrise to sunset on all four courses while here. Barton Creek also introduced a new Callaway Performance Center in 2010 which uses the brand's best technology to assist with club-fitting, from the full bag to drivers-only.

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.