After a couple of days of playing Golf around Austin Andy, A.C. and I headed roughly an hour northwest to Horseshoe Bay where we would be visiting Escondido Golf and Lake Club. Andy’s high school buddy, Geoff, is a member here and would be hosting us for a game on the Tom Fazio designed golf course. On the way to Horseshoe Bay we drove right past Austin Golf Club in Spicewood which is Ben Crenshaw’s club and one that I really want to play one of these days. We also happened to drive right past a Texas State Trooper who clocked Andy going just a wee bit over the speed limit . . . easy to do on a deserted Texas highway. Fortunately, the Trooper was is a good mood and let us off with a warning. Before letting us go he made sure to tell us about another person he had pulled over and let off with a warning recently . . . Chuck Woolery. For those too young to remember, Chuck was the host of numerous TV game shows back in the 70s and 80s. Apparently Chuck had made quite an impression on our friend the state trooper because he was pretty excited to tell us the story. In a Chuck Woolery related sidenote, according to a recent issue of ADWEEK ole’ Chuck is now a Senior Citizen Marketing Specialist . . . I just thought you would want to know.
Once we arrived to Escondido we met Geoff on the range and I have to say, what a range it was. The turf was in perfect condition, there were plenty of aiming targets AND they were cranking out tunes while we warmed up. I’ve never run across that before and I loved it. Somehow it seemed very appropriate for Texas. Geoff had also ordered up some breakfast burritos that were spectacularly good.
After a few balls on the range we made our way to the first tee and put some balls in play. There are four teeing options at Escondido and we decided to play from Tee II which plays a manageable 6,633 yards. After giving players a chance to warm up at the 1st hole with a modest par 4, Tom Fazio gets right down to business. The 2nd hole, also the number 1 handicap hole on the course, runs a stout 443 yards and plays to a par of 4. The photo below was taken from the tee and the play is to drive the ball as far up the middle as possible.
From the top of the hill in the fairway the hole presents a downhill shot into the green. With the hole cut on the left side of the green, like it is in the photo below, the bunkers are essentially out of play and makes this one of the more friendly hole locations.
The 3rd hole, pictured below, is a par 3 that we played from 158 yards. Note the purplish colored wildflowers in the native grass between the tee and the green. These are Texas Bluebonnets and can be found all over the course. They also happen to be the state flower of Texas.
At the 4th hole we have our first par 5. This one plays 554 yards and starts with a drive over the hill to a blind landing area. Drives hit down the left side will set up the best angle for the second shot here. The photo below was taken from the tee box.
Below is a photo taken from the middle of the 4th fairway. With the bunkers around the green an aerial shot is almost required to reach the putting surface.
The 5th hole is another par 3 and this one plays 186 yards from our tees. As can be seen in the photo below there is some undulation to the green and hitting a tee shot that finds the right section of the green is going to go a long way towards making par or better.
At 362 yards, the 7th hole provides a little bit of a breather. A driver is not required and was not encouraged by my caddie who had seen me chop the course up for the last six holes. A nice little 3 wood between the bunkers in the photo below will leave a short shot into the green.
The green at the 7th hole, pictured below, is a little tight and players will want to make sure they hit a solid drive as they will want to be hitting a short iron or wedge for the approach shot.
One thing I have to point out about Escondido is that they really know how to do things right when it comes to food. On the East Coast the standard fare at the half way hut is your typical turkey sandwich or hot dog. Here at Escondido they had a full on taqueria. I must admit that a pork taco at the turn beats the heck out of my usual pimento cheese sandwich back home!
The 11th hole is a long par 5 that we played from 574 yards. The hole starts out requiring a small carry over a lake from the tee. Anywhere in the fairway to the right of the bunker in the photo below will set up a good second shot.
I loved the green at the 11th hole. As can be seen in the photo below there is a lot of movement to this putting surface. With the hole cut down low it plays quite a bit more forgiving as approach shots hit left of the flag will feed down towards the hole. When the hole is up top I have to believe the hole would play significantly more difficult.
The 12th hole is a par 4 that we played from 400 yards. Note the huge rock formation between the tee and the fairway in the photo below. This is something that would have likely been cost prohibitive to move and Fazio did a good job of incorporating it into the course layout.
Below is a photo of the green taken from the bunker on the right side of the fairway. We have more of the huge rock formation beside the green here.
At the 14th hole we have another long par 4 that we played from 449 yards. The tee shot, pictured below, is to a blind landing zone. The best angle into the green is from the left side of the fairway.
Pictured below we have the 14th green which again has a lot of movement in it. Tom Fazio really put some interesting greens on this golf course.
Below is a photo of the 16th green. This hole is a 403 yard par 4 with a fairly long and narrow green.
The 17th hole is a nice little par 3 that we played from 151 yards. The green features two tiers and is pretty shallow which makes club selection fairly crucial.
The 18th hole has by far one of the most interesting features I’ve seen on a golf course. At the tee box there is a wooden stand labeled “Last Shot” that looks like it might have a phone inside for calling a lunch order in.
Instead of a phone inside the box we found a bottle of tequila and a bunch of shot glasses. The way I’d been playing I should have just sat down and drown my sorrows, but I still had the 18th hole waiting for me.
Below is a photo taken from the 18th tee. This is a 548 yard par 5 with a lake running along the left side. Drives hit down the right side of the fairway are going to have the best angle towards the green for the second shot.
Once we finished on the golf course we headed up to the clubhouse for a little lunch and to hang out on the patio. As we waited for the food I wasn’t overly anxious to add up my score as I had not played well at all. Despite the poor play I enjoyed the course and found it extremely playable. The fairways were wide, there were not many significant carries and the greens were interesting but not over the top. All in all, a fun and enjoyable course. In keeping with the theme of great food, the lunch was fantastic. After enjoying the patio for a while we jumped back in the car for the drive home . . . after all, The Masters was on.