Balcones Country Club - Spicewood Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 7.9

Golf - Semi Private Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
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Date Last Played: December 22, 2010

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Balcones Country Club - Spicewood Course Review

Review of Balcones Country Club Spicewood Course

We understand that the Spicewood Course is closed.

Balcones Country Club is home to two 18 hole courses - Balcones and SpicewoodBalcones Course is private and is a relatively flat and traditional 18.  Spicewood is the harder of the two 18s and has surprising elevation changes.  Spicewood is short from the tips, 6575 yards, and has a slope 71.8 and rating of 120, meaning it offers you an opportunity to turn in a good score.  In most cases you can see what you're up against, there is only one bunker to get you, the fairways are ample, and water comes into into play on three holes. 

What makes Balcones Spicewood Golf Course challenging is learning how to manage the significant elevation changes, some of which can require you to club up at least two clubs and some require you to club down.  And you need to stuff it on the greens, which are about average size but elevated and like a turtle's back - if you can't hold them you'll roll off and down the slope for a tough chip shot back up. 

The front nine is fun with gently rolling, but flat fairways that are lined by trees and homes.  You'll find some surprising elevation changes, a couple dog legs, and small to average oval cookie cutter greens.  This is your warm up nine and it gives you a good opportunity to turn in a very good score. 

The back nine is a blast with some fun, scenic, and challenging holes.  In fact, Spicewood's back nine is a roller coaster ride which you won't be able to off of until the 17th hole.  Hold on tight, you'll encounter lots of elevation changes including dramatic downhill shots from the tee box and several significant uphill shots to the green.  And along the way to the 17th you'll also need to manage dog legs, some forced carries, a long challenging 203 yard par 3,  a couple risk reward opportunities, and some challenging greens.  

Speaking of the greens, most are cookie cutter oval shaped with minor to severe slope around the edges.  The majority of the greens are elevated and you need to plan your approach shot accordingly - sometimes bump and run is a good strategy.   As mentioned earlier, most of the greens are like a turtle's back and your ball may have a tendency to roll off the green and back down the slope.   The greens seemed to hold the ball pretty well, were a tad slow (around 8 to 9), and pretty easy to read.   The greens were in average condition when we played and a little bumpy. 

The majority of the fairways are ample and you can typically grip and rip it.  All of the fairways are lined by trees and or homes on one side which can come into play and may cost you a lost ball or OB stroke penalty.  If you're under the trees you can typically find the ball and a way to back to the fairway.  We played in December and the fairways were dormant but in pretty good condition.  Watch out for the only bunker on the left side of the 18th green. 

There are some fun holes like:

  • #3 which is the #1 handicap at 397 yards - short but challenging with a tough tee shot from an elevated tee box that needs to carry or end up short of the small dry creek crossing the fairway and then you'll need to add at least two clubs to make it up the hill and stuff it on the green
  • #10 sets the stage for the back with a short but challenging 334 yard shot to a downhill dog right  green with little room for error - a good risk reward opportunity off the tee box to try and fly the trees and nail the green
  • #16 has an elevated tee shot that needs to be precise to avoid over shooting the fairway or ending up in a back yard and positioning you for a huge uphill shot that if you fall short of the green you'll watch your ball roll back down 75 yards or so to the bottom of the hill

A fun track offering an opportunity for a good score and the green fees are a real bargain.

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Gold 6,575 71.8 120
Blue 6,263 70.1 118
White 5,702 67.5 112
Red 5,338 71.5 109

Course Information

Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Hard - very hilly
Beware of water on 3 holes and the 1 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
7.9 out of 10
Fun to Play:
Front Nine Rating:
Back Nine Rating:


Approximate Weekend
$22.00 to $44.00

Service is ok, the grill has a good burger and more, the pro shop has the basics, and the range is adequate.



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. 


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