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|Avery Ranch's 18th may be the best finishing hole in Austin. (Courtesy of Avery Ranch G.C.)|
AUSTIN, Texas -- Avery Ranch Golf Club is situated in the heart of Austin's most sought-after growth corridor. It is next to major high-tech employers and impressive shopping, and it is just a short drive to Texas State Highway 183, Ranch Road 620 and Interstate Highway-35.
Talk about hustle and bustle.
Yet when you tee off here, the history of the land envelopes the Texas Hill Country surroundings. It was near here in the summer of 1878 that an infamous stagecoach robber named Sam Bass broke out of the Round Rock jail only to be ambushed and mortally wounded by the local sheriff and Texas Rangers.
The Chisolm Trail was part of this area along with tribes of Cherokee, Comanche and Tonkawa who left traces of their existence in the Avery Ranch area with Indian mounds, burned limestone markings and arrowheads. There was even a military post here near the headwaters of Brushy Creek.
Today, while enjoying the 226 acres and 7,121-yard, par-72 of this Andy Raugust (a Jack Nicklaus protege) routing, you will need to pay attention because of rolling terrain, live oaks, limestone outcroppings, a 60-acre lake and Brushy Creek crossings.
It is located in Austin but near Cedar Park and Round Rock and within the Leander school district. Avery Ranch is a beautiful residential development that seems more rural from the course. The northern border of the golf course is the Brushy Creek Trail, an undeveloped area aside from some baseball fields and park space.
"The worst place to be on this golf course is the left side," General Manager Brent Brown said. "Leave your hook at home, because it is trouble. Most think the front nine is more demanding and the back nine opens up more and is a bit easier."
No doubt the most visually stunning and intimidating tee shot and approach is on No. 7 where the 396 yards of dogleg left are loaded with potential disaster. The drive carries Brushy Creek to a spot, hopefully, to the high, right side giving you a clear look at the green on your approach.
"It's a beautiful view from the tee box," said Brown, "but if you are safe in the fairway the second shot must clear a ravine to a two-tiered green guarded by two traps front. Anything in the ravine is a tough par."
The par-5 fifth is another fun hole. This 597-yarder requires a long, straight drive, but if you nail it with a tiny draw the ball can take a downhill speed slot toward the green.
"You need three good shots in a row here," said Brown. The approach is over water, and you might just have a downhill lie to a winged, shallow green and high point in the middle with left and right lower sections.
The back nine is an interesting blend of three par 3s, three par 4s and three par 5s, allowing players to use a more risk-reward strategy.
The par-3 13th is one of the most handsome holes at 161 yards down to an elongated green with a limestone cliff right and lower creek area. A manmade rock wall falls off from the green to the creek 20 feet below.
The round closes with what some publications have deemed "the best finishing hole in Austin." The 18th is a panoramic, 477-yard par 4 bordering 60-acre Avery Lake and providing a neat view of the Texas Hill Country. You could see folks fishing here from a high point near the clubhouse, which is also a popular spot for weddings.
Since opening in 2002, Avery Ranch Golf Club has included superb conditions of 419 Bermuda fairways and Tif Eagle greens, GPS and an interesting, scenic layout. You can't go wrong at Avery Ranch.
Expert instruction is available on a large practice range that includes a two-tiered, manicured-grass tee box stretching more than 100 yards wide and 75 yards deep with laser-measured yardages to four target greens. For the short game, there are two separate putting greens with more than 20,000 square feet of practice area, plus a chipping green with a practice bunker. All are maintained to closely match the actual playing conditions of the golf course.
Hungry after your round? Sunset Bar and Grill has a view of Avery Lake and four Le Cordon Bleu trained chefs. It is more than the traditional burger and fries with appetizers, salads and featured items.
June 4, 2013
David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter here.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
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