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:
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.
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!
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.