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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Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

"It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

"I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

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Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

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Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

"It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

"So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

"I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

"So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

"So I know it's right around the corner."

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Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

He said his game has long been unpredictable.

''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''