Review of Balcones Country Club Course in Austin, Texas
The private Balcones Course is part of Balcones Country Club and it was built in 1958 and has the traditional look and feel of most courses built in that era - rather straight Bermuda fairways, some side by side holes, short (4 tee boxes and yardages ranging from 4850 to 6215 yards and a par 70), and not a lot of unique or challenging holes - all of which makes for an easy, relaxing, and enjoyable round where you can typically score very well. Balcones Country Club is a member of the Palmer Advantage which entitles members to numerous benefits including "Member for a Day Privileges" at over 100 private clubs.
The front fairways are flat, straight, and lined by trees or some houses on each side. From the tee box, you can see what you're up against and in most cases, the fairways are wide enough to let 'er rip and there are only 15 bunkers to contend with and most are guarding the greens. When we played the rough was cut very short and it was easy to recover from the rough or from under the trees. Our favorite hole on this nine was #1 which is a 377-yard par 4 with a dogleg right around a big tree in the middle of the fairway and a small green with a bunker on the right side:
The back nine was much more interesting, more scenic, and a little harder as it meandered through the trees and homes sites - and no side by side holes. This nine has doglegs, a water hole, 11 bunkers, some fun holes, and several ups and downs. For example, hole #11 which is the #1 handicap is a 407 yard downhill par 4 with a dogleg (a good risk-reward shot if you want to try and carry the trees!) and an uphill shot to the green protected by a couple of bunkers. The back nine of Balcones Country Club also has a couple of fun par threes including the beautiful #15 which is a challenging 163 yard carry over a lake to a green that is protected on all sides - club selection is critical on this baby!
The fairways were in average condition and just starting into the spring growing season. Most of the fairways on the front are ample but the back fairways are much tighter with back yards that can come into play. You can expect a lot of extra roll on the flat and firm front fairways, but that's not the cast on the back nine.
The 26 bunkers at Balcones Country Club seemed relatively easy to avoid. The sand was good and they were well maintained. The lips ranged from steep to shallow and you might get lucky and roll out.
The greens at Balcones Country Club are about average size to a tad smaller than normal and they were in good condition when we played. They ran true but a little slow - an 8 or so. The front nine seemed to be a little flatter, while the back nine greens had a little more slope and contour. Expect some raised greens and a couple of false fronts.
The Balcones Course is a good value and if you're looking for an enjoyable and relaxing round, good club amenities, reasonable membership fees, and an active membership, then you should look into a membership.
Initiation Fees: Under $10,000
Monthly Dues: $201 to $400
Service is good, the pro shop has all you need, and the practice facilities are more than adequate and the driving range is lighted! The Country Club includes a pool, tennis courts, and a restaurant.
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.