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Hills Country Club - Signature Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.4

Golf - Private Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Austin
Website · Locate This Course
Date Last Played: June 20, 2012

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Hills Country Club - Signature Course Review

Review of the Hills Country Club

Just short of Lake Travis and in some of the most scenic Austin Hill Country is an exclusive gated golf community that is home to one of the best golf courses in Austin - the Hills Country Club which has two courses, the Hills Signature Course and Flintrock Falls.  The Hills course was the first Austin golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus and Flintrock Falls was designed by both Jack Nicklaus and Jack Nicklaus II.  Both courses are fantastic and in fact, the Dallas Morning News named the Hill Country Club in it's 2012 "Top 100 Golf Courses in Texas" - both courses also made Texas Outside's Top 25 Private Texas Golf Course list.  Here is a link to our review of Flintrock Falls

The Hills Signature Course has all of the key ingredients that we look for in a golf course.  It's:

  • very scenic with lots of trees, rolling hills, huge beautiful homes, lush conditions, creeks, ponds, and cascading waterfalls
  • demanding and puts a premium on accuracy off the tee box and as well as the approach shot - from the tips, the slope and rating are 74.7 and 147 tips
  • in near perfect condition with lush fairways, excellent bunkers, and great greens
  • got lots of variety with the majority of the holes unique and interesting
  • got some very fun holes that you'll never get tired of playing
  • clubhouse, practice facilities, service, and amenities are first class

The front nine of the Hills Signature course seems like a warm up for back nine.  The first few holes seem pretty easy and straightforward and the last four are excellent.  #6 is a 455 downhill dog right par 5 with a creek cutting across the fairway about 100 yards out in front of green with 3 tiers and a couple bunkers guarding it. #7 is as scenic (a cascading waterfall over ferns and rocks in front of the green) as it is demanding - 184 yard par 3 that's all carry with little room for error.  The #1 handicap 410 yard par 4 #8 is fantastic - a slight dog leg left along a narrow fairway  and across a creek to a well guarded green.  And #9 is a fun 543 yard par 5. 

As good as the front is, the back is even better.  It's tighter and tougher demanding accuracy on every shot, it's fun and scenic with cascading waterfalls, and every hole is unique and different.  On this nine you'll encounter tight twisting fairways, uphill and downhill shots, risk reward opportunities, pull out the big dog and go for the green shots, challenging raised and guarded greens, some steep and deep bunkers, dog legs, and more. 

When we played the Hills Signature Course, the fairways were in near perfect condition - lush and plush and few divots.  The roughs varied from thin and playable to thick and tough.  The tree lined fairways range from ample landing zones to tight and narrow with trouble left, right, and long if you overshoot it. 

The greens range in size and shape but most are about average size and all are well guarded with bunkers front, left, right, and hidden off the back.  Some raised preventing a bump and run.  They were soft and held the ball well, ran true, and at a good speed.  They ranged from mild to little slope and undulation and some had one to three tiers.  The Hills Signature Course greens seemed easy to read but something caused us to have quite a few three putts!

The bunkers at the Hills course were also perfect - thick, soft, fluffy sand.  But practice you sand shots before you head out because they are big, numerous, and some are steep and deep.

Bottom line - near perfect conditions, scenic, fair but very demanding holes, fun and unique holes. 

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 7,072 74.7 147
Gold 6,721 73.3 143
Blue 6,390 71.6 140
White 5,845 69.6 134
Red 5,125 70.2 131

Course Information

Course Architect:
Jack Nicklaus
Greens Type:
Bent
Greens Condition
9.8
Greens Difficulty
8.5
Fairway Condition
9.8
Bunker Condition
10.0
GPS:
No
Walkable:
Yes
Beware of water on 11 holes and the 50 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
9.4 out of 10
Beauty:
9.0
Difficulty:
9.3
Variety:
9.0
Fun to Play:
10.0
Value:
8.8
Condition:
9.8
Front Nine Rating:
8.8
Back Nine Rating:
9.5
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FEES & AMENITIES

Initiation Fees: $25,001 to $40,000
Monthly Dues: $601 to $800

Service is very good, the clubhouse is spectacular, the food we tried at the outside grill was good, and the practice facilities are very very good.

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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! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

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.