Barton Creek - Crenshaw Cliffside Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.0

Golf - Resort Private Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Website · Locate This Course
· Stay & Play
Date Last Played: June 05, 2013

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Barton Creek - Crenshaw Cliffside Course Review

Review of Barton Creek Crenshaw Cliffside Course

Barton Creek Resort, in Austin, Texas, is home to four fantastic golf courses that are consistently ranked among the best in Texas.  If you are a member or a guest at the Barton Creek resort you can play the Fazio Foothills (we rated it a 9.2), Fazio Canyons (rated 9.1), Lakeside in Spicewood (rated 9.0), or the Crenshaw Cliffside Course which we rated a 9.0.

The Crenshaw Cliffside Course was designed by two-time Master Champion Ben Crenshaw and opened for play in 1988 shortly after the Fazio courses.   The Crenshaw Cliffside Course is a typical Texas Hill Country course with scenic vistas, rolling treed terrain, elevation changes, and carries over ravines.  What makes this course atypical and one of the best Hill Country courses is the first class service coupled with a great layout that leverages the natural terrain, wide forgiving fairways, near perfect conditions, colorful and well-manicured landscaping, and large undulating putting surfaces.  It’s not surprising that some of the well-deserved awards and accolades include being rated 38th among the "50 Best Courses in Texas" by Dallas Morning News. 

Crenshaw designed this course to take advantage of some beautiful Texas Hill Country and as such you’ll encounter some dramatic elevation changes that will require you to club up or down, deep ravines you’ll need to carry, risk reward opportunities that will tempt you, dense trees that will devour your ball if you spray it left or right, rolling and sloping fairways that cause some interesting lies and will give you lots of extra roll that can take your golf ball to places you don’t want it to go. 

But don’t let that scare you, Crenshaw Cliffside is relatively short, has wide sweeping fairways, bunkers that we had no trouble avoiding, wide playable roughs, and huge greens.  With five sets of tee boxes, yardages from 4726 to 6630 and a slope of 70.8 and rating of 121 from the tips, if you don’t bite off more than you can chew you’ll have a very relaxing, low scoring, and memorable round. 

One caveat, the greens are huge and all shapes and very challenging so make sure you practice putting before you head out, check the pin placement before each approach shot, read the yardage card, study the slope of the terrain surrounding the green to help you understand the slope of the putting surface, and try to stay below the pin.  All of the greens were in perfect condition, fast (a 10 or better!), and true if you can read the breaks.  Most of the greens have a fairly wide and puttable fringe. 

The front nine of Crenshaw is your warm up nine – it’s a little shorter from all tee boxes, is a par 35, has several dog legs left and right, some elevation changes and rolling fairways, and is fun to play.  The back nine is fantastic with lots of variety, three par 3s and 3 par 5s,  45 of the 58 bunkers (one hole has 10 and another has 7),  and some very  interesting and memorable (and challenging) holes.  Some of the holes we really enjoyed included:

  • #2 is a 470 yard par 5 with a great risk reward opportunity if you want try to fly uphill and over the trees where the fairway turns right and then twists through 4 fairway bunkers and then uphill to a huge heavily contoured green with very steep slope off the right side
  • Both par 3s on the back are excellent -  #11 is 185 yards with an intimidating carry over a natural area and #13 is a breathtaking downhill 160 yard shot to a green surrounded by 5 bunkers
  • #14 has a dramatically elevated tee shot to a small oblong green with a left and right side bunker and trees making the approach tight – it’s short at 317 yards and will temp you to pull out the big dog and go for the green, if you do, you'll most likely be reloading if you’re not deadly accurate
  • Some of what makes the last 4 holes a blast includes: a 590 yard uphill par 5 with a cluster of 9 bunkers to avoid; a very intimidating carry over a deep ravine off the tee on 16 and then past 3 monster bunkers to a huge green; a picturesque 142 yard par 3 with a carry all the way to the narrow green with a small and a very large bunker guarding it; and a fantastic finishing hole that includes a blind uphill shot, a downhill shot over a deep ravine to a sloping oblong green with little room for error thanks to 3 bunkers and the ravine

The Barton Creek Crenshaw Course fairways were in perfect condition when we played in June.   All are lined by densly packed trees, so if you miss the wide sweeping fairways, in most cases you're lost in the woods.  The rough was also in great shape and varied from thick to playable.  A scattering of beautiful homes are set back in the trees or in the rolling hills.  The scenery is stunning. 

The bunkers range from small to some real monsters with steep and deep faces that are real trouble.  The bunkers were in great condition with soft sand that was fairly thick.  For some reason, even though there are 58 bunkers, our foursome only found a couple of them. 

You need to be a Barton Creek member or staying at the Resort to play this fantastic courses.  Barton Creek has an excellent and very reasonably priced stay and play package.  Add the Resort and courses to your bucket list.

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 6,630 70.8 121
Blue 6,152 68.6 116
White 5,660 66.4 112
Gold 6,347 69.6 118
Red 4,726 67.6 110

Course Information

Course Architect:
Ben Crenshaw
Greens Type:
Champion Bermuda
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Hard and hilly
Beware of water on 2 holes and the 58 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

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


Initiation Fees: $40,001 to $55,000
Monthly Dues: $401 to $600

Service is first class, the pro shop is well stocked, the cart ladies show up at the right time, and the practice facilities are good.



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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