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Pedernales Golf Club Review

Texas Outside Rating: 7.3

Golf - Public Course · 9 Holes · Par 36
Spicewood
Website · Locate This Course
Date Last Played: September 05, 2014

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Pedernales Golf Club Review

Review of Pedernales Golf Course

Willie Nelson's Pedernales Cut-N-Putt  was formally the The Briarcliff Yacht and Golf Club. The course was designed and built by Frank Howard in 1968 and purchased by Willie in 1979.  The previous club house is now Willie's operating recording studio and no telling what famous artists you'll see going in and out of the studio or on the course.  Hence the name for the course - cut a record and then go putting.

The course has gone through a number of ups and downs and in 2007 a management team was brought in and a number of improvements were made.  So here is the good news about Willie's Pedernales Cutt-N-Putt Golf Course:

  • the layout is outstanding and fun and each hole is a little different from the others
  • it's fair and demanding and will throw a lot at you - dog legs, blind shots, risk reward opportunities, well guarded bunkers, tree lined fairways, ponds, bunkers, and lots of uphill and downhill shots
  • it requires some strategy, good club selection, and excellent course management to turn in a good round
  • it's scenic with some beautiful panoramic vistas of the surrounding Texas hill country
  • its quiet and peaceful and the deer on most holes won't heckle you about your shot making
  • it's never crowded, the pace of play is excellent, and there is no real limit on the size of your foursome
  • you can bring your own beer, t-shirts are proper golf attire, and you might even run into Willie or some of his fellow musicians and friends

The bad news is that the conditions are pretty poor. In 2013 the course suffered the normal Mother Nature problems (drought, freeze, heat, etc.) and worse yet, they had absolutely no water for more than a year.  The water connection to Lake Travis was high and dry (Lake Travis is down 55') and then a landslide crushed all of the pipes and equipment.  In 2014 they have solved that problem and the course conditions are starting to improve put the fairways are dry with lots of rocks and dirt and some grassy patches; the rough under the trees is very rough with dirt and rocks; and most of the greens are bumpy.  But the course is playable and it's fun, despite the conditions.

Some of the holes that we really liked include:

  • #3 is the #2 handicap hole and it is 385 yards with a downhill shot off the tee to a sloping right to left fairway with little room for error then a dog leg left over a pond with some ducks followed by an steep uphill shot to a green guarded by two bunkers
  • #5 is a 415 yard par 4 with a carry over a dry ravine and then a blind shot up the rest of the hill to the green
  • #7 is scenic with a  panoramic vista from the tee box and a big downhill shot to a fairway that takes a sharp turn right and then over a ravine and up hill to the green - a great risk reward shot if you want to try and fly the trees to cut the dog leg and significantly shorten the hole

The greens at Pedernales Cut-N-Putt Golf Course are mostly oval and a tad smaller than normal.  They are relatively flat and easy to read but slow and bumpy. 

The fairways are tree lined and a little tight and you need to manage the ups and downs and roll.   As mentioned earlier, they are not in the best of condition but playable.

All of the bunkers are guarding the greens, most are small to average size, the lips are manageable, and the sand is fantastic - thick and soft and a joy to hit from.

The current Pro Shop is small and features lots of Willie Nelson pictures and posters. You'll also get to golf with some good country music playing in the background. And "We don't need no stinking rules" is one of the bylines - see this list of unusual Pedernales Golf Course rules - some of which include: no more than 12 in your foresome; no bikinis, mini skirts, skimpy see-throughs, or sexually exploitative attire allowed, except on women; and when another player is shooting, no player should talk, whistle, hum, click coins, or pass gas!

They are open for tournament play, in fact here are some comments from their website about scheduling a tournament - "Imagine about 10-40 of your best friends and co-workers swinging bent sticks, chasing after little white balls, and riding the hilly terrain in gas powered four wheelers. You gotta do this! Bring your own caddies, beer, etc. Coolers are allowed. Sorry, we don't yet have beer carts driven by sweet young college girls, but hey, we've got everything else!"

Bottom line - the conditions are poor but improving, the layout is scenic and a blast to play, and you've got to give this courses a try for it's a unique experience! You should have a fun and a memorable experience playing Pedernales Golf Club.

Head Pro's Corner

Here is a quote from Willie from an interview in Texas Golfer Magazine: "I and another guy bought the course in 1979, then I let him have it, but later I bought it back from him.  Then I lost it to the IRS, so Darrell Royal and Jim Bob Moffett bought it back for me.  But the Feds said my pals didn't pay enough for it, so the IRS took it back and sold it to an Iranian fellow.  We didn't get along so I convinced a theater owner in Branson, Missouri to buy it for me and I did six months of shows to pay him back.  So I guess I've paid for the course several times."

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 3,330
Gold 3,205
Blue 3,030

Course Information

Course Architect:
Frank Howard
Greens Condition
6.0
Greens Difficulty
6.0
Fairway Condition
4.0
Bunker Condition
8.5
GPS:
No
Walkable:
Hilly
Beware of water on 2 holes and the 18 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
7.3 out of 10
Beauty:
8.3
Difficulty:
9.0
Variety:
8.7
Fun to Play:
8.0
Value:
6.5
Condition:
5.0
Front Nine Rating:
7.5
Back Nine Rating:
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FEES & AMENITIES

Approximate Weekend
Rates:
$27.00 to $37.00

The pro shop has some balls and tees and lots of Willie T-shirts and gear plus snacks and candy bars and some soda but no grill or beer. There is a putting green but no driving range or cart service.

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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.