As the sun rises over Driftwood Golf and Ranch Club, several holes on the grassed-in front nine are visible. The holes primarily pictured are Holes 4 & 5 fairway (5 fairway and green on the left, No. 4 fairway and tees on the right). Holes 3 & 6 can […]
Much of the attention in North Texas has been on the $500 million PGA Frisco development with two new golf courses in the grow-in stage for a planned 2022 debut. But there are a smattering of other courses throughout the state under construction or having opened in the last year. The highlights:
Driftwood Golf and Ranch Club
Tom Fazio has been designing golf courses for six decades and has more than 250 original designs on his résumé. He has designed 17 ultra high-end courses (including Vaquero in Westlake) for Discovery Land Company. Four of his courses are in The Dallas Morning News’ top 20 in Texas.
His latest project in Texas is Driftwood Golf and Ranch Club, a $30 million development 23 miles southwest of downtown Austin. Sodding of fairways and rough with Zeon Zoysia and seeding of greens with 007 bentgrass may be completed by July, golf superintendent and director of agronomy Eric Puls estimated. The course could be ready to play by October.
“It’s going to be outstanding and absolutely sensational,” Fazio said at a preview event in March before construction was complete. “This is the real deal. I’m really excited about it.”
The par-72 course will measure 7,662 yards from the back tees. Development employees said several PGA Tour players, including Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Fred Funk, have bought lots. That raises the question of whether the highly walkable course could host a PGA Tour event.
“It’s the kind of course where you could make anything happen,” Fazio said.
The golf course was carved out of Hill Country limestone. Normally, a new course will yield some soil to be used elsewhere when storage lakes are created. The 400-acre property is so rocky that 50,000 tons of sand and 30,000 tons of loam soil were ordered to cap the fairways, giving grass a place to grow. The property includes 320 lots for luxury homes that take up about half of the land shaded by oak trees estimated to be more than 200 years old.
Fazio’s first venture in Texas was the Foothills Course in 1986 at what is now known as Omni Barton Creek Resort. He also designed Dallas National, Vaquero, the Fazio Course at Carlton Woods, Escondido in Horseshoe Bay and Briggs Ranch in San Antonio. He was hired for the renovation of Champions Jackrabbit Course in Houston originally designed by his uncle, George Fazio.
“This golf course is extremely important to me because expectations are so high,” Fazio said. “I’d like to be back here in another 10 or 15 years doing another one.”
Heath Golf and Yacht Club
After several years of planning, construction and delays, Heath Golf and Yacht Club opened Oct. 17, 2020. It was open for five months before being shut down. It wasn’t the coronavirus. It was the Valentine’s Day weekend ice and snow storms that massacred the greens.
Director of golf Larry Muskopf said even though precautions were taken, such as covering the greens, many of them were damaged, leading ownership to keep the course off limits to play. He said the goal is to resume play by Memorial Day.
Meanwhile, construction on the 970 home sites (270 are occupied) and resort-style golf villas continues. The clubhouse that sits on a Lake Ray Hubbard cove offers dramatic sunset views over the lake. Ten boat slips are available for members near the infinity pool. Seven tennis courts and four pickleball courts are being used.
The property includes space for nine more holes. Muskopf said course architect Roy Bechtol and Spieth are under contract for future golf plans.
While water comes into play on 12 holes, the fairways are generous and give players options on how to attack the greens. Bechtol said the second shot “is where you have to pay attention.”
“We don’t want water to adversely affect play,” Bechtol said in an interview. “I want this course to be fun.”
The par-72 course measures 7,068 yards from the gold tees. Play is only for members, who pay $20,000 to join. In late April, the club had 117 members. Muskopf said plans are to break ground on a golf clubhouse when the membership level hits 300. Membership will be capped at 450-500, he said.
Big Easy Ranch
Big Easy Ranch, which calls itself “a sporting club like no other,” is expanding its golf footprint. The 2,000-acre property in Colorado County 90 minutes west of Houston is known for its hunting. It already features a nine-hole par-3 course. Owner Billy Brown has brought in Chet Williams to carve out an 18-hole course with a model similar to the one used at Whispering Pines.
It will be a members-only club with zoysia fairways and Tif Eagle Bermuda greens. Williams said the property has 80 feet of elevation change and dense stands of cedar trees. The property is loaded with live oaks, post oaks, black walnut trees and some hickory trees. There are dry creek beds on the property that will be turned into actual creeks with recirculating water.
Williams said the course could be ready to open in the fall of 2022.