As if it was even possible, Boot Ranch’s award-winning Hal Sutton-designed course just got better. The 18-hole golf mecca in the Texas Hill Country now offers improved playability with an enormous, tailor-made practice area. We got a chance to preview the completely redesigned links at this incredible resort just outside of Fredericksburg last weekend, and we came away absolutely impressed.
To find out more about the impressive upgrades this already phenomenal facility, we chatted with Barbara Koenig of Boot Ranch, who took me on a quick tour of the still under-construction course as the resort graciously hosted us for our editorial retreat Sept. 15-17.
As we zipped up the pristine cart path, enamored with a family of deer crossing through, Koenig pointed out the great pains that Sutton and the greenskeepers at Boot Ranch have taken to make the course flow in harmony with the existing Hill Country landscape. The renovation, she pointed out, made an already amazing course even better — and more sustainable, too.
The greens on the course, the three par-three practice holes, the three chipping greens, and the enormous practice putting green, have been converted from bent grass to TifEagle Bermuda, a strain that offers a superior playing surface for the climate, requires less water, and better tolerates the heavy mineral content used by the reclaimed water irrigation system. Of course, with the faster grass, many of the slopes and undulations of the greens were tempered, though the challenge provided by sharp drop-offs remains.
The bunkers, according to club operations direct Todd Huizinga, were reduced in number and completely refurbished with new liners and brilliant white sand, improving the overall look and playability of the course. Once deep and somewhat intimidating, the sand traps were raised about four inches, though the bottoms were flattened — offering a “fairer challenge” when it comes to laying up to the faster, firmer greens.
Additionally, the 18th hole — a par-four dogleg-right — was previously regarded as one of the toughest finishing holes in the state. Though many of us wish we were scratch golfers from the golds like Sutton, he took pity on us and lengthened the challenging hole, converting it to a par five, bringing the course to an overall par 72.
To me, however, the jewel of the course renovations is the enormous putting park. Boot Ranch sunk $1 million into it over the summer and created the five-acre Metzger Park that includes a Chet Williams-designed putting park that will make it so much easier to unwind after your Friday drive-in. Williams says that the 35,000-square-foot putting green is the largest in the state. I got an up-close look at the green, and with the new Bermuda fully seeded, it has a resilient feel and excellent speed.
With these renovations, Sutton has realized his dream of creating a golf destination for those who love the game. “I wanted to build a course that, if four some reason I wasn’t around to teach my son how to play golf, he would have a chance to learn all the shots he’d ever need right here,” he said.
I can say, without a doubt, mission accomplished.