Window Shopping: Golf bargains in Austin will be music to your ears

By Brandon TuckerOctober 10, 2012, 10:01 pm

AUSTIN, Tex. -- It's a busy autumn in Texas' capital city. Not only are the Texas Longhorns in the mix for a Big 12 Championship, but Austin City Limits music festival and the brand new Formula One Grand Prix race make their way to the capital city this fall.

And until the first Tuesday of November, there are plenty of politically-spirited residents campaigning from street corners for local, state and national elections.

The gift - and curse - of Austin's location in the heart of the Texas Triangle is that while San Antonio, Dallas and Houston are all within a three-hour drive, it also means major sports pass up Austin for any franchises and the professional golf tours head elsewhere in Texas for tour stops.

But regardless, there are a lot of reasons to visit Austin, especially in the fall, when the weather is best and the air is just cool enough to make barbecue smell that much better. Golf in Austin at this time of year is also as good as it gets. 

The Austin golf scene's big cahuna is Barton Creek Resort & Spa, home to three courses at the resort (plus a fourth, the Lakeside, out by Lake Travis). The catch is you have to stay at the resort to gain access to golf at this private club, and green fees can cost north of $200. Just east of the airport, Wolfdancer Golf Club, part of the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines, delivers one of Texas' best layouts and a lower green fee ($139-179) - and the public can get on without booking a hotel room (county residents can also get a discounted rate here). 

So while the area has Top 100 resort golf, the best thing about the golf scene here is that you can virtually name your price to play. The most basic options are Butler Park Pitch & Putt ($8 for nine holes), an ultra-casual course near Town Lake and 9-hole, historic Hancock Golf Course just north of U.T. ($12). The best municipal facility is 36-hole Jimmy Clay & Roy Kizer. Each course is walkable and of championship standard between 6,800-7,100 yards. Clay is usually a few bucks less than Kizer. Expect to pay $30-50 with a cart.

Residents are also excited for January, when Morris Williams reopens after nearly a full year under the knife. The course, on the east side of town, is being entirely re-seeded and a new clubhouse is under construction, while several holes are being redesigned as well. 

Beyond the munis, Austin has a wealth of semi-private facilities that welcome public golfers. Grey Rock, Avery Ranch, Star Ranch and Teravista on the outskirts of the city offer member-worthy conditions and facilities. These courses charge between $50-90 depending on the time of day. Northwest of town, Sun City offers three of its own layouts, Cowan Creek, Legacy Hills and White Wing. You can also find some limited public availability online at private courses Onion Creek and River Place.

Just a step below these semi-privates in price and experience is Shadow Glen Golf Club ($40-50), located on the east side of town and offers a unique, 7,000-plus-yard layout without much residential impact.

The Texas Hill Country borders Austin to the west, and this is where some of the more dramatic courses in the area can be found. If you can't play Barton Creek, the next best thing for the public golfer is Falconhead Golf Club ($60-90), which has a gorgeous, Hill Country layout with one of Texas' most remarkable holes. Dabble around the small towns west of Austin like Wimberley or Blanco and you can uncover a little country charm and some lesser-known, very affordable courses like Quicksand at Woodcreek, Highland Lakes or Vaaler Creek that make for good compliments to an afternoon in the car exploring this most unique part of Texas.

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.