A day in Austin done right: Grey Rock Golf Club and nearby Salt Lick Bar-B-Que Restaurant

By Travel ArticlesJanuary 14, 2012, 5:00 am

AUSTIN, Texas -- If you've been in Austin for a day or two and haven't gotten any barbecue, prepare to be asked, 'Why not? Vegetarian?'

And one of the best golf-and-BBQ combos around Austin can be had by heading just south of town to Grey Rock Golf Club, followed up by beers and barbecue at the Salt Lick Bar-B-Que Restaurant in Driftwood.

Grey Rock G.C. was designed by Jay Moorish as the centerpiece of the Circle C community and is one of Austin's more upscale semi-private courses. It sells yearly memberships to Austinites and also runs one of the city's favorite weekly golf leagues. Grey Rock also remains one of the better competition venues south of Austin. It's a U.S. Open qualifier venue and also hosted the Texas Women's Amateur Championship.

For first-time visitors, Grey Rock certainly makes a good first impression. A bag boy is at the front gate and tells you everything you need to know and gives you a few bottles of water for the golf cart. Then you head up toward a shaded, Hill Country-style, stone clubhouse.

My playing partner Joe, who plays the Austin municipal courses with me often, summed up the Grey Rock opening impression pretty succinct. 'Oh yeah, I like this place. ... Classy.'

The golf course plays 6,855 yards from the championship tees and winds through beautiful, old oaks trees. There are a few creeks and ponds to contend with as well. But it's the many oaks that demand your attention, sometimes blocking certain angles from the fairways and into the green. Both sides are scenic, but the back nine is especially so as there is far less development to the side of any holes compared to the more built-up front.

Grey Rock G.C. is certainly not brutal at any turn, though the par 3s are all pretty strong off the back tees. But like most courses around the Hill Country, the severity of the test will be largely dependent on how much the wind is up.

As with most Moorish-designed courses, expect a drivable par 4, and Grey Rock's rendition comes on the ninth, which plays just 317 yards from the championship tees. The back nine hardly closes as easy with a long, dogleg-right par 4 pinched by trees on the left and water on the right, so two bold shots are needed to end well.

Grey Rock Golf Club in Austin: The verdict

The first go-to courses for visitors in Austin are the courses at Barton Creek Resort, but the resort also charges three-figures year-round and only allow guests of the resort on the golf courses. So if that's a little steep, Grey Rock Golf Club is a great alternative, especially if you can snatch one of their many deals.

Some specials bring Grey Rock's green fee down to about as much as an area municipal course, making it a real bargain. During the dormant winter months, the club overseeds not only tees and greens but also the surrounding areas, so chances are your chip shot will be on green grass, which is always a perk during the winter.

Texas barbecue after golf at the nearby Salt Lick Bar-B-Que Restaurant in Driftwood

Once you've made it out to Circle C Ranch for Grey Rock Golf Club, you're already more than halfway from Austin to Driftwood, home of the Salt Lick Restaurant (www.saltlickbbq.com). It's practically a straight shot south on TX-45 about seven miles.

Barbecued on a large open pit over charcoals, The Salt Lick serves up family style, all-you-can-eat helpings of brisket, sausage, ribs and pulled pork, or you can just get two or three meats on a plate if you're looking to maintain a little self control. Meet the owner, and he'll gladly tell you about the time Ben Crenshaw asked Salt Lick to cater his Masters winner's dinner (much to the chagrin of Augusta National).

There is usually a wait here on weekends despite the many large banquet rooms to dine in. Frankly, when we get a group together to go, we hope for a wait, because there is plenty of seating outside to crack open a few cold ones and enjoy some live music.

Be sure to pick up your own case of beer on the way out, because the restaurant is BYOB here (and also cash-only). Or, stop off at Mandola's Winery just down the road for a tasting -- or ask them to pair you up with a bottle that goes well with Salt Lick (you won't be the first to ask). Personally, I'd recommend a case of Shiner Bock or Ziegenbock, two personal favorites for brew-and-cue.

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Reed: 'Back still hurts' from carrying Spieth at Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:48 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Friday’s marquee match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who are both undefeated in pool play, just keeps getting better and better.

Following his 1-up victory over Charl Schwartzel on Thursday, Reed was asked what makes Spieth, who defeated HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, so good at match play.

“I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, who teamed with Spieth at Hazeltine National.

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The duo did go 2-1-1 at the 2016 Ryder Cup and have a combined 7-2-2 record in Ryder and Presidents Cup play. Reed went on to explain why Spieth can be such a challenging opponent in match play.

“The biggest thing is he's very consistent. He hits the ball well. He chips the ball well. And he putts it really well,” Reed said. “He's not going to give you holes. You have to go and play some good golf.”

The winner of Friday’s match between Spieth and Reed will advance to the knockout stage.

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Reed vs. Spieth: Someone has to go

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 10:11 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – The introduction of round-robin play to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was a necessary evil. It was needed to stem the tide of early exits by high-profile players, but three days of pool play has also dulled the urgency inherent to match play.

There are exceptions, like Friday’s marquee match between Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, which is now a knockout duel with both players going 2-0-0 to begin the week in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

That the stars aligned so perfectly to have America’s most dominant pairing in team play the last few years square off in a winner-take-all match will only add to what promises to be must-see TV.

Sport doesn’t always follow the script, but the pre-match subtext on this one is too good to dismiss. In one corner, professional golf’s “Golden Child” who has used the Match Play to wrest himself out of the early season doldrums, and in the other there’s the game’s lovable bad boy.

Where Spieth is thoughtful and humble to the extreme, Reed can irritate and entertain with equal abandon. Perhaps that’s why they’ve paired so well together for the U.S. side at the Ryder and Presidents Cup, where they are a combined 7-2-2 as a team, although Spieth had another explanation.

“We're so competitive with each other within our own pairing at the Ryder Cup, we want to outdo each other. That's what makes us successful,” Spieth said. “Tiger says it's a phenomenon, it's something that he's not used to seeing in those team events. Normally you're working together, but we want to beat each other every time.”

But if that makes the duo a good team each year for the United States, what makes Friday’s showdown so compelling is a little more nuanced.

The duo has a shared history that stretches all the way back to their junior golf days in Texas and into college, when Reed actually committed to play for Texas as a freshman in high school only to change his mind a year later and commit to Georgia.

That rivalry has spilled over to the professional ranks, with the twosome splitting a pair of playoff bouts with Reed winning the 2013 Wyndham Championship in overtime and Spieth winning in extra holes at the 2015 Valspar Championship.

Consider Friday a rubber match with plenty of intrigue.

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Although the friendship between the two is genuine, there is an edge to the relationship, as evidenced by Reed’s comment last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he was denied relief on the 11th hole on Sunday.

“I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth, guys,” Reed said.

While the line was clearly a joke, Reed added to Friday’s festivities when he was asked what makes Spieth such a good match play opponent. “I don't know, my back still hurts from the last Ryder Cup,” smiled Reed, a not-so-subtle suggestion that he carried Spieth at Hazeltine.

For his part, Spieth has opted for a slightly higher road. He explained this week that there have been moments in the Ryder Cup when his European opponents attempted some gamesmanship, which only angered Reed and prompted him to play better.

“I've been very nice to [Reed] this week,” Spieth smiled.

But if the light-hearted banter between the duo has fueled the interest in what is often a relatively quiet day at the Match Play, it’s their status as two of the game’s most gritty competitors that will likely lead to the rarest of happenings in sport – an event that exceeds expectations.

Both have been solid this week, with Speith winning his first two matches without playing the 18th hole and Reed surviving a late rally from Charl Schwartzel on Thursday with an approach at the 18th hole that left him a tap-in birdie to remain unbeaten.

They may go about it different ways, but both possess the rare ability to play their best golf on command.

“I’m glad the world gets to see this because it will be special,” said Josh Gregory, Reed’s college coach who still works with the world No. 23. “You have two players who want the ball and they aren’t afraid of anything. Patrick lives for this moment.”

 Where Reed seems to feed off raw emotion and the energy of a head-to-head duel, Spieth appears to take a more analytical approach to match play. Although he admits to not having his best game this week, he’s found a way to win matches, which is no surprise to John Fields, Spieth’s coach at Texas.

“Jordan gave us a tutorial before the NCAA Championship, we picked his brain on his thoughts on match play and how he competed. It’s one of those secret recipes that someone gives you,” Fields said. “When he was a junior golfer he came up with this recipe.”

Whatever the secret sauce, it will be tested on Friday when two of the game’s most fiery competitors will prove why match play can be the most entertaining format when the stars align like they have this week.

It was a sign of how compelling the match promises to be that when asked if he had any interest in the Spieth-Reed bout, Rory McIlroy smiled widely, “I have a lot of interest in that. Hopefully I get done early, I can watch it. Penalty drops everywhere.”

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Watch: Bubba casually hits flop shot over caddie's head

By Grill Room TeamMarch 22, 2018, 9:20 pm

We've seen this go wrong. Really wrong.

But when your end-of-year bonus is a couple of brand new vehicles, you're expected to go above and beyond every now and then.

One of those times came early Thursday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where Bubba Watson’s caddie Ted Scott let his boss hit a flop shot over his head.

It wasn’t quite Phil Mickelson over Dave Pelz, but the again, nothing is.

And the unique warm-up session paid off, as Watson went on to defeat Marc Leishman 3 and 2 to move to 2-0-0 in group play.

Hey, whatever works.

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Spieth explains why he won't play in a 'dome'

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 9:01 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – No one at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was as excited about Thursday’s forecast as Jordan Spieth.

Winds blew across Austin Country Club to 20 mph, which is typical for this time of year in Texas, and Spieth put in a typical performance, beating HaoTong Li, 4 and 2, to remain undefeated entering the final day of pool play.

The windy conditions were exactly what Spieth, who never trailed in his match, wanted. In fact, demanding conditions factor into how he sets his schedule.

“I have, and will continue to schedule tournaments away from a dome, because it's just unusual for me. I like having the feel aspect,” said Spieth, who attended the University of Texas and played Austin Country Club in college. “Places with no wind, where it's just driving range shots, it's just never been something I've been used to. So I don't really know what to do on them.”

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Spieth used the CareerBuilder Challenge as an example. The Coachella Valley event rarely has windy conditions, and as a result he’s never played the tournament.

“I played in a dome in Phoenix, and I didn't strike the ball well there. Actually I've had quite a few this year, where we didn't have very windy conditions,” said Spieth, who will face Patrick Reed in his final pool play match on Friday. “I don't go to Palm Springs, never have, because of that. Look at where you can take weeks off and if they match up with places that potentially aren't the best for me, then it works out.”