If Mount Rushmore were in Texas, Sam Houston, Lyndon Johnson and Willie Nelson would be honored with sculpted likenesses for sure. That leaves one spot. A coach like Tom Landry or Darrell Royal? A running back like Earl Campbell or Doak Walker? Bevo, the University of Texas mascot, or Reveille, the Texas A&M collie?
Yes, Texas is all about football.
You'll find good golf, too, but all the hallowed ground is gridiron. There are three football seasons in Texas: spring football, recruiting season and football season, the last happily coinciding with the best time of the year to play golf. In fact, you can't beat the weekend of October 15 through 17 for a once in a lifetime golf-and-grid extravaganza.
Friday, OCT. 15
Set up camp at Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin. That's where legendary UT coach Darrell Royal, who built teams around players who "like trained pigs, will grin and jump right in the slop," starts his day with coffee and the newspaper, routinely followed by 18 or 36 holes. Royal, who plays as fast as smalltown gossip, never had a losing season in 20 years at Texas, winning three national championships.
With four strong courses, Barton Creek belongs in the same breath with such other ClubCorp properties as Pinehurst and Firestone. Its two Tom Fazio tracks, Foothills and Canyons, belong among the state's elite. For starters, try Foothills; it plays 6,956 yards from the back and hosted last year's USGA Senior Women's Amateur. Ben Crenshaw and Arnold Palmer also built tracks at Barton Creek.
As Friday winds down in Texas, local rivalries heat up. What is it about Texas high school football? "It's one word: community," says Craig Way, play-by-play voice of the Texas Longhorns. "Go to San Saba or Highland Park or Odessa or Follett, where they play six-man. The people around here embrace the game, not just the players. It's all about the fans, the students, the parents, the bands, the managers -- the whole community."
Just up the road from Barton Creek is the citadel known as West-lake, one of the winningest high school programs of the 1990s. In those days their quarterback was Drew Brees, now taking snaps for the San Diego Chargers. Westlake's Chaps have a road game in nearby Bastrop on October 15; kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. But if you don't make it in time, don't fret: All the small towns near Austin will be full of the spirit of Friday night football. Another local showdown -- same night, same time as the Westlake-Bastrop game -- pits the Westwood Warriors and Leander Lions (a state Top-20 team), at the new $20-million Round Rock ISD Athletic Complex, which seats 11,000.
Saturday, OCT. 16
Should the Texas Longhorns lose to Oklahoma's Sooners on October 9, tickets to today's Missouri game might go begging. Check with other customers at congenial Scholz Garten (512-474-1958; virtual-restaurants.com/scholz) an ancient, airy beer joint and restaurant in the shadows of Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium. (Try Ticketcity.com, too.)
If you played Fazio's Foothills on Friday, you're ready for the Canyons course -- a bit stronger at 7,161 yards, with plenty of elevation change. The Cliffside course shows Crenshaw's affection for Old World shot-making, while the Palmer Lakeside is more than one Barton Creek member's favorite.
Whether your game is golf or football, check out the ribs at The County Line (512-327-1742; county line.com), near Barton Creek. Then visit one of the decks overlooking Lake Travis at The Oasis (512-266-2441; oasis-austin.com) an ideal stop for grub and a few beverages. Still hungry? Since the mid-1920's, Texas fans have loved the Old Timer and DH (named after a regular) burger specials and malts at Dirty Martin's Kum-Bak Place (512-477-3173; dirtymartins.com), an Austin institution. You've got to eat there at least once.
|Facts & Contacts|
|Barton Creek Resort & Spa |
Greens fees $160-$205 (Foothills, Canyons), $115-$165 (Cliffside), $90-$125 (Lakeside)
|Cowboys Golf Club |
Greens fee $140
|Dallas Cowboys |
|Round Rock ISD Athletics |
|University of Texas Football |
Start early -- it's a three-and-a-half-hour drive to Dallas. With the Cowboys-Steelers game starting at 3:15 p.m, you might have time for a round at Cowboys Golf Club. Even Redskins fans are pleasantly surprised by the lack of ostentation here. When the club opened in 2001, purists feared they'd find football-shaped greens, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told architect Jeff Brauer there'd be "no goofy golf." Tasteful plaques near the tees detail the team's past; carts are named for Cowboys greats; and the clubhouse is full of mementos. The 7,017-yard course is a non-partisan pleasure. No homes, no razzle-dazzle, just thickly wooded corridors of mature pecans and oaks surround a man-made lake. The sole nod to the course's provenance is a big blue Cowboys star painted on one fairway. And if you wind up punting .on your round, Cowboys GC is close enough to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport to make getting home a breeze.
Many Dallas-area hotels offer packages featuring game tickets and private tours of Texas Stadium. The tented Corral outside the stadium, a popular TV backdrop, is ideal for tailgating. You'll need to come armed with two important phrases: "How 'bout them Cowboys!" and a favorite of Coach Royal's, "You got to dance with the one who brung ya."
Looking for great golf values? Last month we unveiled a new GOLF MAGAZINE rating system: Bang for the Buck Quotient, or BBQ. This month we apply our exclusive BBQ formula to the courses in Austin and Dallas. BBQ ratings top out at 100; any course coming in over 80 is well worth the money:
Austin's Top BBQs:
1. Roy Kizer Golf Course $21-$30; 512-444-0999; www.ci.austin.tx.us/parks/kizer.htm. On the site of a former wastewater plant, this links-style layout is fun, but challenges with water.
2. Falconhead Golf Club $59-$89; 512-402-1558; falconheadaustin.com. The cantilevered 17th green, on the first PGA Tour Signature Series Course in the U.S, hangs about 10 feet over a pond.
3. Lakeway Golf Club (Live Oak) $40-$50; 512-261-7173; clubsoflakeway.com. Live Oak taunts with narrow oak-lined fairways and sloped greens. But no worries about hitting out of bunkers -- there are none.
Dallas's Top BBQs:
1. Texas Star Golf Course $55-$75; 817-685-7888; www.texasstargolf.com. This is the real McCoy: scenic, playable and affordable. It's a muni disguised as an upscale daily-fee.
2. Country View Golf Course $15-$20; 972-227-0995; countryviewgolfcourse.com. An affordable, family-friendly course, this is one of the Metroplex's better kept secrets.
3. Woodbridge Golf Club $35-$59; 972-429-5100; wbgolfclub.com. A beautifully wooded track that punishes golfers who haven't mastered the three Ps: placement, putting and patience.