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  • Art Stricklin

Driftwood Golf & Ranch Club

Unleashing the True Essence of Golf in Texas

In the world of golf, some courses start quietly and then explode into a magnificent crescendo, leaving players in awe. Think Augusta National, Pebble Beach, and the legendary Old Course at St. Andrews. These legendary courses set the standard for excellence. But for Texas Golf Insider readers seeking a closer-to-home golf experience that rivals these iconic courses, look no further than Driftwood Golf & Ranch Club in the heart of Texas. Designed by the renowned Tom Fazio and nestled in the charming town of Driftwood just south of Austin, this private gem is a testament to the genius of the Discovery Land Company.

An Unforgettable Finishing Stretch

While the course has only been open for over a year, the recent opening of the final nine holes in 2022 added an extraordinary finishing touch that truly sets Driftwood apart. President Casey Paulson believes these last holes have the potential to be truly remarkable: "I always thought the entire course would be really good, but I think the last holes have a chance to be very, very special." And the esteemed course architect himself, Tom Fazio, wholeheartedly agrees. With his years of experience, Fazio knows a thing or two about exceptional golf courses. He confidently declares, "The final four holes at Driftwood are poised to become some of the finest finishing holes in golf." High praise indeed.

But it's not just the spectacular course that sets Driftwood apart. The club boasts state-of-the-art practice facilities, complete with an indoor teaching center. “People will expect it to be good because it’s Hill Country because Discovery Land Company is involved because Fazio is involved - all those expectations are high,” Fazio said. "When the top players come here, they may never leave the practice facility because it's the best they'll ever see." And once they step onto the course, they'll never want to leave.

A Riveting Challenge: Holes 15 & 16

The par 72 course is routed through some huge mature hardwoods and native Texas brush which once belonged to the famed Salt Lick BBQ Empire, but what makes the closing stretch so enticing is the presence of very scenic or dangerous water. It clearly comes into play on several of the back nine holes which could drown or buoy any promising round. The par 5 15th hole is a challenging layout that can play 594 yards from the very back tees and forces you to plot your way strategically to reach the green in regulation. Water comes into play all along on the right side and is more dangerous as you get closer to the green. The par 4 16th hole takes you on a drive over a large lake right off the tee box and then has a Texas-size cascading stream all the way down the right edge of the fairway to snag any wayward approach shots. There is a large fire pit and chairs to the right of the green, on the other side of the water, to allow your friends and competitors to cheer or jeer any of your efforts.

A Thrill from Front Nine to Back Nine

On the par 3 17th, it measures 191 yards from the member tees and much of the distance is covered by lake, making your tee shot all or nothing if you’re looking for a par or birdie. The finishing hole, the par 4 18th, has another long drive with more bunkering and trees near the final green. “Our variety of tees, ranging from 5,004 to 7,720 yards, offers a challenge for the best tour players as well as easy-going playability for novice golfers. The front nine offers solid holes that require precision shot making, while the elevation of the back nine has some of the most dramatic stretches of golf holes in Austin that create challenging strategic options for players,” said Driftwood head professional Tim Phelps.

But with all the back nine fireworks, that doesn’t mean the front nine at Driftwood is totally overlooked. After a pleasant opening through the trees on the first tee box, the best holes are the par 4 4th hole which asks players to hit a long tee ball to get into place for a challenging approach, along with giant trees and bunkering to a large and undulating green. The par 4 8th hole is a dogleg left, but a very fun risk-reward drivable challenge for many players.

Hospitality FIt for Texas

Of course, all that Texas Hill Country scenery and watery danger can make a person powerfully hungry and, of course, the signature Discovery Land comfort stations come into play in a Texas-sized way. "Driftwood has taken the traditional golf experience and elevated it to an all-encompassing thrill for the spirit and revival for the senses,” said Texas golf legend and Driftwood SeniorVice- President Brent Buckman.“Between the Golf House, Starter Silo, two Comfort Stations, known as Sunrise and Sunset, and a cheeky “JPH Bar” (Just Past Halfway) located just past halfway at Hole #10 green, golfers are never more than three holes from a place to grab refreshments served with Discovery’s signature level of exceptional hospitality.”

In keeping with the, ‘Everything is Bigger in Texas,’ theme, not only does the comfort station offer snacks and cold drinks, but also a Beer Garden with rotating seasonal taps, live fire cooking, and other relaxing and refreshing items.

Driftwood Golf & Ranch Club is more than just a golf course. It's an experience that exceeds all expectations. Located in the stunning Hill Country, backed by the esteemed Discovery Land Company, and designed by the legendary Tom Fazio, this golfing haven is everything Texas Golf Insider enthusiasts could dream of, and more. With the practice facility, short game park, golf house, and full 18 holes all now open at Driftwood, the symphony is nearly complete, with members and guests enjoying the sweet music of Texas’ next great golf experience. Prepare to be astonished.


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