Review and Rating of Bluebonnet Hill Golf Club in Austin
I'd driven by Bluebonnnet Hill Golf Club a number of times in the past and never had a real desire to play it because from the road it looked wide open with side by side holes! Turns out I was looking at the driving range and the course is a pleasant surprise with some fun holes, unexpected elevation changes and scenic vistas, excellent service, a great pace of play, and a real bargain. Can't wait to play it again.
Bluebonnet Hill Golf Club was designed by Jeff Bauer and opened for play in 1991. The course is short by today's standards (5241 yards to 6590 with three tee boxes), somewhat traditional and straightforward, and has wide forgiving fairways - making the course suitable for all skill levels and an opportunity to have a relaxing and low scoring round. However, if you're looking for trouble, spray the ball, or don't deploy some good course managment skills you're going to be disappointed with your score.
Like most Jeff Bauer designed courses, Bluebonnet Hill Golf Club features many old-style design characteristics like square cornered tees, lots of smaller steep banked grass bunkers, greens with plenty of contour and some that are protected by sharp banks and mounds rather than the traditional sand bunkers. Another thing we liked about Bluebonnet Hill Golf Club is that it's out in the Austin countryside with no homes along the fairways which means no barking dogs, no loud sierens, and no chance of breaking a window! Plus the course focuses on a strict no fivesome rule and they push hard to maintain a 4 hour pace of play.
The front nine is very traditional and straightforward and on a lot of holes you can see the pin and what you're up against - some of which includes water on 3 holes, 18 bunkers, a couple dog legs, some minor ups and downs, plenty of grass swales/grass bunkers, some mounding, and raised greens.
We loved the back nine - a lot more character, several surprising elevation changes, lots of uphill as well as downhill shots requiring good club selection, some great holes, several dog legs, 29 bunkers, and water on 8 holes. Wind on both nines forces you to focus on club selection and how to play the shot.
Some of the holes we really liked included:
Bluebonnet Hill Golf Club prides itself on their greens and has earned a reputation of consistently having some of the best greens in Austin - and we would agree. The greens had recently been overseeded but they were in near perfect condition, soft and held the ball well, and ran true and at a good speed of around 9. We were told the greens normally run around a 10 or so. Most of the greens are raised (making a bump a run a little harder) and all are guarded by some combination of a sand bunker as well as mounding, swales, and grass bunkers. Slope and contour requires you to study the putt before hitting it. All of which is going to impact your score.
The fairways at Bluebonnet Hill Golf Club are wide and forgiving and firm providing lots of extra roll. Some are like roller coasters with some ups and downs while others are flat. Mounding, waste sand bunkers, grass bunkers, and small to long nasty bunkers can cause problems. The fairways were in fair condition and the small rough was pretty rough - rocks and dirt. Miss the rough and you probably won't find your ball. As you can tell by the pictures, we played when the fairways were dormant and the trees had no leaves. I would imagine that during the summer the course would be very pretty - another good excuse to go play it again!
The 47 sand bunkers and all the grass bunkers can cost you some strokes. Some are steep and others are flat, some are small pot bunkers and others are long and sweeping, and all should be avoided. We found it easy to stay out of most of them. The sand varied from light and fluffy and thick (a joy to hit out of) to a little firm and thin.
Bottom line - a must play course with some great holes, good conditions, friendly service, an excellent pace of play, and a very affordable rate.
We left a GPS in our cart and when we called, we expected the typical answer - "haven't seen it!" Not the case at Bluebonnet Hill Golf Club - they had it and were holding it in the office. Our note of thanks was quickly responded to by Dylan Lemke the GM - "We try our very best to keep the greens in good shape seeing as how we know that over 75% of the game is played around the greens. I also appreciate the compliment on the staff. I try my very best to hire people that would be honest and have the integrity that the game of golf was built upon. I will keep your wife's GPS in my office for your pick up."
Rates: $20.00 to $45.00
Service is friendly and courteous, the practice facilities are good (the view of Walter E Long Lake is pretty), and the pro shop has the basics. The grill has dogs, sandwiches, and snacks.
Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating
The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this: links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses!
All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course. In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40. We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.