Golf Course Review: Austin’s Avery Ranch A Nice Find

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The attractive clubhouse at Avery Ranch resembles one you might expect to find at a fine private club.  (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)

Besides being the state capital of Texas, Austin is famous for many things – live music, barbeque, high tech, and its growth and traffic. There are several excellent private and resort golf courses, but most would be hard-pressed to name a public layout worth detouring to play. Avery Ranch should just have you making that drive.

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Big bunkers guard a large putting surface on one of the few holes at Avery Ranch where housing or people are apparent. Otherwise you feel that you are well out in the country.  (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)

Located in a residential development north of the city, Avery Ranch is the 2002 product of former Nicklaus Design Associate Andy Raugust. As you enter the modern, attractive clubhouse and are greeted by the friendly folks, you can look out over rolling tree-studded, panoramic terrain, you’re about to encounter a fun, playable and properly testing round of golf – a showplace for public Hill Country golf.

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Playing across the edge of the hazard to the right to the long, narrow green makes both club selection and execution paramount on the 161-yard 13th.  (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)

Avery Ranch plays relatively firm and fast with lots of defining bunkers, but it is the wooded fairway corridors that will require you to also bring a sense of accuracy off the tee. The short par-four first hole with its generously wide fairway serves as a relatively benign opener, provided you miss the bunkers, but from then on, you must find the fairways if you hope to conquer Avery Ranch. The par-fives offer the best chance for birdies, but water, trees, and bunkers on them will keep you honest. I feel that the one-shotters are the biggest challenge with the shortest, the 161-yard 13th being potentially the hardest with the putting surface adjacent to a hazard that will catch anything just slightly to the right. The same may apply to the longer 212-yard par-three 6th or 396-yard par-four 7th where a careless shot can quickly stifle a promising round. And for a rousing finish, the 477-yard par-four may be the toughest 18th hole in the region.

 

With plenty of water and some tricky putting surfaces, there is an entertaining, yet appealing element of local knowledge present at Avery Ranch, and at 7, 121  from the tips to 4,924 from the forward tees, there is plenty of variability to challenge for every level of skill. The conditioning is excellent, and while this is a residential development, the homes are never obtrusive or dominate the landscape as they are apt to do on many other area courses. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of  Avery Ranch is that while you are actually traversing the suburbs, you will be pardoned if you believe you’re well out in the country for the layout exudes a bucolic beauty and serenity.

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With trouble tight to both the right and the left, the tee shot on the dogleg-left par-four 7th must find the fairway.  (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)

It is always refreshing to discover a layout that spells quality, value, beauty, and fun, but that is how I would describe the Avery Ranch Golf Club – one attractive public layout you will be pleased to play in the greater Austin area.

Below:  Approach shots must negotiate the water on the par-five 5th hole at Avery Ranch.  (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)

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ABOUT: Bob Fagan

robert-fagan_120x160Bob Fagan features one of the most interesting backgrounds in golf. Not only it is likely that Bob has played more golf courses than any living person, he has been an accomplished player and instructor, innovative golf and life coach, PGA Section Executive Director, golf company executive, “Expert Golf Witness,” and, of course, a highly acclaimed golf writer.

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