Review and Rating of Onion Creek Golf Club in Austin
Onion Creek Golf Club is a private club that's available for play by members and those who come to play through the Austin Golf Trail. You can also check Golf Now, which has a limited number of tee times available at Onion Creek.
Onion Creek Club is known mainly for being the “Birthplace of the Senior PGA Tour” and it was the host for the first ever Senior PGA event in 1978 and since then it has hosted several major events including the The Harvey Penick Invitation and an LPGA Tour Event from 1999-2001.
Onion Creek's original 18 was designed by Jimmy Demaret and opened for play in 1973. In 1996 Ben Crenshaw built another nine that was blended into Demaret’s original design - which means that during your round you'll likely play some holes from each designer. The score card and the typical play rotation is the Original Course and the North Course. The Original Course's 18 holes are all Demart's design and the yardage, slope and rating in this review is from the Original 18 holes.
The North Course includes nine holes designed by Crenshaw and nine by Demaret - the Original #10, 11, 12, and 13 are the first four holes on the front nine of the North Course. The Original #14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 play as holes 14 through 18 on the North back nine.
The rotation of play changes quite frequently. The first time we we played, the rotation was the front nine of the Original Course and the front nine of the North Course which is a stroke or two harder than the North back to the Original back nine. When we played in January 2015, we played the Original 18 which is 220 yards shorter than the North Course and has a higher slope (132 vs 130) than North but a lower rating (70.7 vs 71.2).
Playing nines from both designers makes golfing at Onion Creek very interesting - Demaret's design is more of a shot makers course with tight tree lined fairways and small guarded greens, while Crenshaw's nine is much more traditional, very forgiving with wide open fairways, and much bigger greens. The Original's first nine holes require some accuracy off the tee box to stay in the narrow tree lined fairways, precise approach shots to small greens, and some good putting. The North front nine's first three holes (which are the same as #10, 11, and 12 on the Original back - are confused yet?) are fantastic and if you survive them you've got an opportunity to turn in a very good score.
Some of the holes that we liked on the Original Course included:
In 2013 Onion creek flooded and wiped out the greens and bunkers which have all been replaced when we played in January 2015. The new Tif Eagle greens are still maturing but they were in near perfect condition. They rolled smooth and at a good speed of around 10 or so and they were soft and held the ball well. You'll encounter some slope and contour but nothing that we found really challenging.
The Original Course fairways are really tight thanks to a dense tree line, natural area, Onion Creek, some hills, or homes which are OB. The majority of the fairways we played on the Original back and North front were wide and forgiving and you can finally let-er-rip. The fairways were still recovering from a tough winter, the flood, and the drought but they were in very good condition (but a tad thin and firm) and during the summer they should be excellent. The rough on both nines ranged from wide to tight and was cut so that it was very playable and easy to hit from.
The bunkers are a variety of sizes and shapes and strategically placed in the fairway and vary from one to five bunkers surrounding the greens. All of the bunkers have been redone and the sand is perfect - soft, thick, and fluffy. I felt like I was in the beach sand in Destin Florida - all I was missing was a pina colada! Some of the faces are very steep and challenging, others are manageable.
Bottom line - Onion Creek offers an interesting and fun layout, very good conditions, friendly service, and reasonable membership rates. And with the rotation, you won't get tired of playing the same old 18 every week.
Initiation Fees: Under $10,000
Monthly Dues: $201 to $400
Service is very good - prompt, friendly, and outgoing. The pro shop is very well stocked with everything you need and the practice facilites are good. There is a restaurant in the clubhouse and a small grill outside the pro shop that has drinks, snacks, sandwiches, dogs, and more
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.