Barton Creek Palmer Lakeside Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.4

Golf - Resort Private Course · 18 Holes · Par 71
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Barton Creek Palmer Lakeside Course Review

Barton Creek Palmer Lakeside Golf Course Spicewood

With four outstanding golf courses, the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa is considered one of the premier golf resorts in Texas. The four courses are designed by some of the best – Tom Fazio, Arnold Palmer, and Ben Crenshaw. Common to all four courses are excellent conditions, superb layouts offering golfers lots of variety and plenty of challenges, and spectacular vistas as the courses meander through the natural beauty of the Texas Hill Country. Click on the link to read the reviews of Fazio Foothills, Crenshaw Cliffside, and Fazio Canyons.

The Lakeside course is about 30 minutes from the resort and sits on a hillside above Lake Travis offering majestic views of the lake, golf course, community, and surrounding hill country. The Lakeside course winds it’s way through some huge beautiful homes of the exclusive gated Barton Creek Lakeside community. Lakeside is a little easier than any of the other Barton Creek courses and a little tougher than the Crenshaw 18.

The Arnold Palmer-designed Lakeside front nine is characterized by deep, brushy, and intimidating ravines that will come into play on holes 5 through 8. On each of these holes you'll need to carry the ravine off the tee box or somewhere along the way to the green - study the yardage guide to manage the ravines.  If you can't carry the deep ravines, your score will escalate - so play smart. In addition to the ravines, you'll need to contend with water, soft sand bunkers, and some tight approaches - regardless of all that, this is a fun and fair nine and with good course management you can score well.

The back nine is also fantastic with lots of variety, fabulous scenery, excellent conditions, and plenty of challenges.  For the first 7 holes on the back nine, after we finished each hole we said, “wow, that was another great hole!” This nine is a par 35 with 3 par threes that are some of the best in Texas offering scenic beauty as well as a challenge for all skill levels.  Number 11, which is the signature hole requires a shot across a large pond to a green protected with 6 deep pot bunkers on the right, a cascading rock creek in the back and along the left side leading to the pond, and a beautiful huge rock waterfall and large home behind the green. The Dallas Morning News ranks #11 among the “18 Most Beautiful in Texas” - it also made our list of the Most Scenic Golf Holes in Texas.  

All of the holes on Barton Creek Palmer Lakeside are fun and a joy to play, however the following holes were our favorites:

  • #2 is a 496 yard par five that long accurate hitters and go for the green in 2; the rest of us will need to layup to carry the lake at 100 yards in front of the green which has a huge front and back bunker and trees that block the right side approach shot to the green or you can risk going down the fairway on the right side of the tree (avoiding the carry over the lake) and down a skinny fairway that gives you an easier shot at the green
  • #5 is a fun (and scary) 276 yard par 4 with a very tight fairway leading to a wide and deep ravine and sloping green
  • #12 is a 578 yard par 5 with a lot of everything - an elevated tee box, a pond to carry off the tee box, a wide landing zone with a string of four bunkers, a dogleg left around the tree line, a long skinny fairway with two big bunkers, and a green set off to the left side surrounded with 3 bunkers
  • #16 is a 405 yard dogleg left around a long bunker and cluster of trees - an excellent risk reward shot if you think you can carry the trees and avioid three bunkers amoung the trees

When we played in late November the course was in near perfect condition despite tough summer weather.  The Bermuda fairways and the roughs are well maintained and manicured.  Most of the fairways are ample off the tee box but a few are tight thanks to the trees on both sides.  Six doglegs, water, ravines, bunkers, and elevation changes force you to play smart if you want to score well. 

The bunkers were in excellent condition with soft fluffy sand. They range in size from small steep pot bunkers to some huge multi-fingered monsters.  Most are guarding the green and others are strategically placed in the fairways.

The Palmer Lakeside Champion Bermuda greens were also in great condition - soft, smooth and true.  When we played there were running at a good speed of around 10 or so.  Most of the greens have some slope but with some study, you should be able to see and read the breaks - you won't encounter a lot of undulation.  The greens are a variety of shapes and sizes, with most being a little above average size.

Service is first class from the time they bring you the cart to the sad moment when they load your clubs back in the car. The clubhouse is phenomenal – a bar and grill, formal restaurant and dining room with panoramic views, a well stocked pro shop, fantastic men’s and women’s locker rooms, a spa, fitness center, and pool. As you dine or sit on the deck sipping a cold one, the views of Lake Travis, the course, the beautiful homes, and the surrounding hill country are unequaled.

To learn more about the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, read about our four day stay and visit to the Omni Barton Creek Resort, which had just completed a $150 million renovation.

The good news, bad news is that you have to be a member or stay at Omni Barton Creek Resort to play any of the four courses – so treat yourself to a stay at the resort and enjoy these must-play courses. All of the Barton Creek courses are pricey but, hey, life is short so treat yourself to some outstanding golf.

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 6,407 72.3 136
Blue 5,861 69.6 130
White 5,389 67.6 124
Gold 6,221 71.5 134
Red 4,726 68.3 123

Course Information

Course Architect:
Arnold Palmer
Greens Type:
Champion Bermuda
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Course Map
Beware of water on 8 holes and the 62 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

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


Initiation Fees: $10,001 to $25,000
Monthly Dues: $401 to $600

Service is excellent and the club house, restaurant, pro shop, and locker rooms are first class. 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.