Austin, TX golf trip?

gents, i'm doing a golf trip to Austin in late February with a bunch of guys and we're trying to narrow down the course selections. none of us have any knowledge of the area so any advice you can offer is much appreciated. we're looking to play 5 times, and to keep the average rate per round at about $50.
here are the five $50 and up courses we are considering:
Falconhead
Star Ranch
Avery Ranch
TeraVista
Grey Rock
and here are five that are below $50:
Crystal Falls
Forest Creek
Lions
Blue Bonnet Hill
Shadow Glen
we'll be staying Downtown in all likelihood. i guess the main question is, are there any of the top five courses we're better off avoiding and are there any of the bottom five courses we really shouldn't miss (factoring in conditions, price, proximity, etc)?
of course, any other courses, help, or tips you could offer are greatly appreciated. thanks!
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I commented on the courses I have played. Enjoy Austin...
Star Ranch (I love this course. Good service, nice fairways and the greens roll well.)
Avery Ranch (Looks unreal, I was going to play there but I had shoulder surgery 5 weeks ago. It will be my first round back)
Grey Rock (Great track, and the service is awesome as well. However, it is similar to a boring country club course. Everything is nice and you have a great time but the course was not inspiring, just well kept.)
Forest Creek (Target golf with crazy doglegs. However, the course is nice with great greens and service. I hate it because I can only hit driver on 6 holes. They have a par five that only allows you to hit a 6 iron off the tee.)

Lions (Avoid at all cost. It is not in the best shape and the greens are super slow. The round will also take forever. I play there because it is close to home for a quick round before dark and they have some good guys at the course)
Blue Bonnet Hill (When it rains the grass comes back to life and the fairways are nice. the greens also roll well for the price. It is a pretty easy course but is a good time.)
Courses you didn't mention:
Under 50 and under 15 minutes from downtown:
Jimmy Clay (I really like this course, but that is partly due to it being the first one I played in Austin. I think it is shaped well and is in good shape most of the time.)
Roy Kizer (Links style with water. One of my favorites.)
Morris Williams ( Can be hit or miss. The greens are always great but the fairways can use some help and our dry summer didn't help.)
I have not played for 5 weeks but they were in good shape a month ago.
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Glad you are coming to town. You and your boys will have a blast if you are staying downtown. My comments are below regarding the courses.
here are the five $50 and up courses we are considering:
Falconhead -- GREAT Course. About 30min from downtown. long from the tips with good greens and some interesting holes.
Star Ranch -- a very good course with a good layout.
Avery Ranch -- overrated and over priced.
TeraVista -- I have played several times. I would play Falconhead and Star Ranch before this one.
Grey Rock -- VERY OVER PRICED.
and here are five that are below $50:
Crystal Falls -- haven't played it.
Forest Creek - -haven't played it
Lions -- very close to down town with a good layout. old austin favorite.
Blue Bonnet Hill -- haven't played it.
Shadow Glen -- haven't played it.
I hope this helps and good luck with the trip.
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Go to to get discounted tee tees. They often have tee times to some of the local private clubs (River Place & Onion Creek) for your price range. Plus, you could get cheaper times at most of the courses you listed (falconhead, Teravista, avery ranch, etc.).
All of the $50 courses you mentioned are good tracks. My order of preference would be the following:
1. Avery Ranch
2. FalconHead
3. Grey Rock
4. Star Ranch
5. TeraVista
On your $50 and under list, I would skip Shadown Glen, not very fun to play. Crystal Falls has some good holes but you can hit a great shot down the fairway and still lose your ball (some fairways slope into trouble) and you need some course knowledge to get around. Forest Creek is a pretty good course about 25 mintues north of downtown in Round Rock.The best city muni is Roy Kizer. Very short ride from downtown. A fun course to play that is real cheap ($25) and close to dowtown is Riverside. It was the old Austin Country Club until it moved to the lake in 1984. Several of holes have changed due to being next to Austin Community College. But, for drinking beer and having fun with friends (if you are on a budget), it is a good deal.
Great food (bbq & mexican), great golf, and good scenry (hill country and female)...you will have a great time in Austin!
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shadow glen is a great course but is very difficult. you'll have a lot of blind shots but it's fun. their carts have gps so that is neat.
bluebonnet is not a bad course and is a great course for the price.
lions is a municipal course that has never been in good shape when i've played.
star ranch is a great course that isn't terribly difficult and has always been in great shape when i've played it;.
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Ok, i've played some of these courses but not all.
per your list:
here are the five $50 and up courses we are considering:
Falconhead - haven't palyed
Star Ranch - very nice fairways, but if i recall, not much cover, which means, if the wind is blowing and cold, you'll have a hard time
Avery Ranch - my favorite, although i do agree if may be a bit over priced. i paly there a few time year and its always in very good shape.
TeraVista - haven't palyed
Grey Rock - very nice course, but again over priced. i live 3.5 miles away, but i still don;t play that course more than a couple of time a year.
and here are five that are below $50:
Crystal Falls - haven't played in a few years there
Forest Creek - very nice, but also very tough
Lions - my favorite local muni, sure the rounds are long, but you can't deny the history and that gorgeous # 16 (Hogan Hole)
Blue Bonnet Hill - very open and nice for the price, although kinda out of the way off 290
Shadow Glen - haven't played
Jimmy Clay (muni) and Morris Williams (muni) are great and in very good shape.
don;t forget about the BBQ, depending on how far you're willing to trave, you'll find some very good places. a couple that come to mind are County Line on the Lake (not very original but very good), Salt Lick in Driftwood. If you play at Grey Rock, you're almost there, way in deep southwest austin, off FM1826 and last but not least Southside and Meyer's in Elgin, about 15 mins east of Austin on Hwy 290
have fun !!
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as said earlier, check 512 golf and see if you can get a deal on WolfDancer. I've not played it recently but if its in decent shape (and it should be) it is as good or better than the other courses you have mentioned. It is about 30 minutes east of Austin on Hwy 71.
Of the ones named, Fhead is good. Star ranch is decent as are Avery and Grey Rock. Consider Kizer at the same location as Jimmy Clay.
Eat BBQ at Iron Works, Salt Lick or County Line. Try Mexican food at any number of places. For local flavor, the CFS is sort of special at the Broken Spoke or Threadgills.
6th street can be weird so be somewhat careful there real late at night. But consider Esters Follies if you just want to go somewhere to laugh.
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Like Mikolar stated, check golf 512 for a special at Wolfdancer. It is by far the best daily fee course in central Texas. It is a big course.
Falconhead is a tough layout with some very long holes and the rough is substantial. Awesome greens. #9 and #11 are tough.
Grey Rock is a good target golf course with super greens and some narrow holes.
Teravista-I wasn't overly impressed with this course and it's not that difficult.
Crystal Falls is a pasture and is a miss left only golf course with grainy greens.
Forest Creek is a good layout and can really play tough if it's windy.
Lions-well, it's an old school track where many legends have walked. I would play it simply because it may not be here the next time you visit.
Bluebonnet isn't that great of a layout but the greens are usually some of the best in town.
Shadowglen is a very good layout with the exception of 18...and if a few of your buddies are crybabies, this is the place to take them. There are half a dozen really tough holes. It has grown in well and is now suitable for play.
I would never eat at the Salt Lick or recommend it to anyone. The food is overrated. If you want real BBQ, take the 40 minute drive to Lockhart and eat at Kreuz Market. They do not offer BBQ sauce..if that gives you an idea of the quality of their meats. Southside Market or Meyers would be an option for some good eats if you want to go east to Elgin and Southside has my favorite sauce.
I would also have to recommend Magnolia Cafe on South Congress. It's a classic hippy joint and the food is good. Z-Tejas is a cool place to eat and hang out with 3 locations. You can find traditional mexican and tex mex on south 1st. Hula hut is a really cool restaurant on Lake Austin and make sure and order the mango quesadillas.
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As stated by a few others avoid Crystal Falls at all costs. Many of the fairways have severe slopes and tee shots hit straight down the middle will roll down the slope into areas with very little grass and often as not bare dirt. The layer of topsoil in that part of town is very thin and the underlying ground is very rocky. It is not uncommon to take a small divot and strike a rock or stone.
Falconhead and Avery Ranch have some very scenic holes that require good golf shots. Star Ranch is a links style course that can play very easy if there is no wind or very difficult if the wind is blowing; which is most of the time. Terra Vista is enjoyable, but nothing special. Lions has a lot of history, but is probably not worth the time and pace of play since you are in town for a limited period of time.
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I've been playing in Austin for the last 5 years, and play 100+ rounds a year and played all the courses you listed. whats your handicap and when do you plan to play (weekend, weekday?).
Falconhead - best public course I've played in Austin. Worth every penny
Star Ranch - eh.. easy course.. lots of bunkers.
Avery Ranch - good course. A bit over priced. You can get $35 deals on golf512
TeraVista - too many houses on the course.
Grey Rock - played couple of times.. thought it was way overpriced
and here are five that are below $50:
Crystal Falls - tough little course.. not long lot of elevation changes. For the price, its an awesome deal.
Forest Creek - tight course, good condition all the time
Lions - played there this afternoon. Muni course.. would play on the weekday when its not crowded. close to downtown and historical value.
Blue Bonnet Hill - hard and wide fairways. $20 green fees.. nothing to write home abt.
Shadow Glen - tough course.. gr8 value..
Since you are near downtown..
I would sneak in 9 holes at
harvey penick golf course and hancock golf course
other 18 hole courses..
Wolfdancer - public resort course. same class as Falconhead.
If you are a single digit handicapper this is what I would choose --
Falconhead
Crystal Falls
ShadowGlen
Avery Ranch
Lions
Wolfdancer
If you use Golf512 this could easily average to less than $50 a round.. all except crystal falls is on there.
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Here is my suggestion;
Horseshoe Bay is 45 minutes from the Austin airport and has tree of the top ranked golf courses in Texas. It's an outstanding resort, great accommodations, food, scenery and some of the best manicured golf courses in the Hill Country. Check it out -- you can't go wrong!
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wow guys. thanks so much for the great responses. and thanks for the food recommendations. no doubt that will be just as important as golf.
based on what i'm reading, unless i find some great deals on golf512, it looks like i'm going to skip the pricier and resort options (Grey Rock, Wolfdancer, Horseshoe, etc). we are on a budget and none of us need anything fancy to have a good time.
about us: the handicaps are between 6 and 12. we prefer links style courses to trees, would rather have nice greens and cow pasture fairways as opposed to the opposite, and hate par 5 doglegs where you have to hit 6 iron off the tee (so bye bye Forest Creek?). i'd say this is the list at the moment:
1. Falconhead
2. Star Ranch
3. Avery Ranch
4. Roy Kizer
5. ?
if we're able to snag a good deal on Wolfdancer through golf512 then the list will be complete. if not, i'll have to pick another from the "cheap" list. based on our criteria, what do you guys think is best? oh, and this is going to sound like such a tourist question, but are there any cool/nice courses out in the desert where you get a total desert vibe? most of us have never played any desert courses so thats why i ask. thanks!
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I would never eat at the Salt Lick or recommend it to anyone. The food is overrated. If you want real BBQ, take the 40 minute drive to Lockhart and eat at Kreuz Market. They do not offer BBQ sauce..if that gives you an idea of the quality of their meats. Southside Market or Meyers would be an option for some good eats if you want to go east to Elgin and Southside has my favorite sauce.
I would also have to recommend Magnolia Cafe on South Congress. It's a classic hippy joint and the food is good. Z-Tejas is a cool place to eat and hang out with 3 locations. You can find traditional mexican and tex mex on south 1st. Hula hut is a really cool restaurant on Lake Austin and make sure and order the mango quesadillas.
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^^^Great advice there^^^ Would highly recommend going to Lockhart to visit Kreuz mkt, Smittys or Black's (Kreuz is my fav) to have some of the best BBQ in the world. This is the pinnacle for BBQ in Texas and cannot be beat...Close second would be Snow's BBQ in Lexington.
For Mexican in Austin there are sooo many great ones...few on my must visit places when Im down is
Juan in a Million
Jamies Spanish Village
Ciscos
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If you like links style.. you might want to add Blackhawk to your list as well..
If you sign up for their email specials on the website, you will get an email coupon for round of golf, with 2 draft beers for $25 or below
Its close to Star Ranch as well.
Bluebonnet is a cow pasture.. and cheeep.
Unfortunately no desert courses in Austin.
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Unfortunately no desert courses in Austin.
oh well, a guy can dream.
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If you want links, I would recommend Plum Creek which is in Kyle and roughly 20 minutes from downtown. Great greens and the fairways were all sodded in when they built it. The course is watered with grey water so it is usually in very good shape. Blackhawk is not a good course to play during the winter months. There isn't much grass in the fairways and the greens aren't great. Kizer is a good links course and probably the best in the city limits. If you wanted to play a real hill country course, take the trip to Wimberley which is about 40 minutes from downtown Austin and play Woodcreek. New management has completely turned around the fairway conditions and you will not find better greens.
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Unfortunately no desert courses in Austin.
oh well, a guy can dream.
I am assuming that you will have a car. I agree with all of the others sentiments in the thread and if you can swing it, I would highly recommend Wolfdancer. If, however, Wolfdancer is a definite no, then I would suggest a course out in Bastrop called Pine Forrest. It's about 35-45 minutes east of downtown to get to the course but it is a very good track when in shape. Course is tight and as close to target style golf that you will get in central Texas. The course winds through hills and along the Colorado river and has some really good holes. I grew up in Bastrop and this was the course that I grew up playing. It is a test of accuracy but not very long at all. If you decide to go this route, let me know what you think of the course.
DG
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If it's links style you're after, Star Ranch and Roy Kizer are the two that you should start with. Jimmy Clay (shares a facility is Kizer) is an impressive layout that's recently been redone and includes an island green and a pretty tough last couple of holes. A bit more trees, though. Shadow Glen is a big links golf course that's really demanding, but you can never tell what kind of shape it'll be in...a couple of really great holes, including two drivable par 4s (if the prevailing wind is blowing). Forest Creek is an underrated layout but 1) not a lot of drivers if you're very long and 2) not at all links golf...you'll have to drive it straight. Teravista is links style, but I think just about the most overrated course in Austin. A couple of good holes, but also a couple just terrible par 5s that ruin the layout for me. Only play Lions if you're a big fan of Texas golf history...16 is Hogan's Hole and is famous enough that, if planned renovations to that course happen, it's the only hole that is off limits for remodel. Avery Ranch is a good course, though a bit overpriced due to the neighborhood it's in as much as anything (it was supposed to be private when it was built but the tech crash in the early 00s hindered that). If you get a tee time through 512, I think it's worth it. It's in my top couple of public layouts in town.
Falconhead and Grey Rock are meh. I don't like Crystal Falls at all (played it once and won't be back, even though it was in good shape).
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I used to live closest to Crystal Falls. It was my home course and I loved it. It is a very difficult course and I can understand why people can hate it. It is a beautiful course with some beautiful holes. Especially a couple of the par 3s (#2 is still my fav). It is a love it or hate it course but I would recommend playing it. Play the ball into the slopes. I never had problems hitting rocks and stuff unless you hit the ball in an area you could tell you will hit one. Fairways are fine but the rough can get a little rocky. Woods (lots of trees) on both sides everywhere. It has been a long time since I played in the Austin area. I moved 7 years ago so I don't know what kind of shape it is in but probably better than it was and it was good then.
Lions is a great course for a city course. I even met Tom Watson there one time. Great guy.
Forest Creek is one of my favorites too. They used to always have it in pristine shape and love the layout. Sand traps everywhere but pretty easy to avoid. The have a u-shaped par 5 I got my first birdie on when I was still a new player many years ago.
There are several new courses since I played around there, and some of the ones you listed might be those.
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Grey Rock is awesome.
I would skip Lions. It has the history, and a great layout, but it's just too run down and beaten up to really be enjoyable. For an old school course, check out Riverside. It's the site of the old Austin Country Club and a pretty neat track for what it is.
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If you want the best soul food in Austin, go to Hoover's on Manor Rd.
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Just wanted to thank everyone for their help with this. We leave on Thursday and I just today finished all the tee times. We're playing:
Star Ranch
Avery Ranch
Falconhead
Wolfdancer
Roy Kizer
Got it all done at the $50 average round I was aiming for. The weather's not looking great but it sure as sh*t beats NYC right now. Anything over 50 degrees is paradise. Thanks again!
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C'mon down...it snowed today......weather should be good this weekend....
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My fun rating for the ones I have played
Star Ranch: Very Very fun
Avery Ranch: Fun
Roy Kizer: Very very fun
Shot my first round in the 70's at Kizer..
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let's just hope the storm on it's way to NYC right now holds off long enough for us to catch our 6am flight out tomorrow morning.
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Nice lineup of courses. I will give 2 tips to make your experience at Wolfdancer more enjoyable.
-Make sure you pick correct tees for your ability
-Make sure that you are below the hole and do not short side yourself
Enjoy your time in Central Texas.