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  • Art Stricklin

Driftwood Golf & Ranch Club

Like a stirring symphony, a great golf course may start slowly, even plainly, but raises to a great crescendo by the time you putt out on the 18th green. Augusta National, Pebble Beach and the Old Course at St.Andrews are all prime examples.

For a better and much closer Texas show case, you can look to the outstanding Tom Fazio designed private layout, Drift- wood Golf & Ranch Club just south of Aus- tin in the small town of Driftwood,Texas. While the outstanding layout, a product of the highly successful Dis- covery Land Company, has been open for just over a year, the final nine holes opened in 2022 and the result was a spectacular finish to an already satisfying design. “I always thought the entire coursewould be really good, but I think the last holes have a chance to be very, very special,” said Driftwood president Casey Paulson.

The final four holes at Driftwood are poised to become some of the finest finishing holes in golf ” added course architectTom Fazio, who has seen plenty in his time. Add the new elaborate practice facilities plus the indoor teaching center and it’s clear a finished Driftwood property is more than holding its own as one of the great new golf outlets in the Lone Star State.“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 they come here and see it, they will be shocked because it’s even more substantial than their expectations could lead them to believe.”

"When the top players come here, they may never leave the practice facil- ity because it’s the best they’ll ever see. When they get to play the course, they’ll never want to leave.” The par 72 course is routed through some huge mature hardwoods and native Texas brush which was 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 which 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 ap- proach 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.

On the par 3 17th, it measures 191 yards from the member tees and much of the distance is covered by lake, mak- ing 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 profes- sional Tim Phelps. Of course all that Texas Hill Country scenery and watery danger can make a person powerfully hun- gry and, of course, the signature Discovery Land comfort stations come in 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.”

Of course, 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. 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 bun- kering 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. 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 ofTexas’ next great golf experience.

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