Texas Two Step

– A Pair of Texas Resorts Shine In The Spotlight-
A Flagstick For Women Travel Story

From the moment you arrive in Texas, you always seem to feel welcome.  Maybe it is the sweet rhythm of the people’s accents or the warm sun that always seems to be shining but, in any case, it makes for a place that is hard not to like.

As a golfing visitor the attraction is even greater.  Just like everything that is done here, golf is “big” is Texas.  Even in the smallest western oil towns you will usually find a few things related to sport – a football field, a baseball diamond, and some variation on a golf course.

With weather that usually provides a comfortable enough climate to golf all year (with the exception of the deep winter where snow and ice in a great possibility, especially to the north) there is ample opportunity to enjoy a golf vacation in the Lone Star State.  And venues that include golf, accommodations, and world-class amenities?  They seem to be around every corner.

Hunker down cowgirls, you won’t regret a visit to Texas unless you happen to forget your golf clubs.

While many vacationers look to the Atlantic and Pacific coastal regions for their golf fixes, the “little’ state of Texas is doing more and more to bring people to “their” coast.

This year the Texas Golf Association is celebrating its 100th anniversary.  Starting with five simple golf courses, the membership has grown to more than 500 and counting.  The raw number of courses makes it one of the richest among all the American States.

Just as the number of courses has grown, so has the number of world-class golf resorts.  Two that stand out are the Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas at Las Colinas and the Barton Creek Resort.  If you are planning a trip to Texas, take aim at either of this resorts and you will be right on target for a great time.

Barton Creek Resort

With so many options, just where do you start to look for a placed to start your Texan golf adventure.  How about right in the heart of Texas – in the city that dazzles, Austin.

While Austin may be most renowned as both the state capital and the music capital of Texas, the golf does not lag behind as a big reason while people visit this diverse city.

While there are plenty of individual golf courses of private, public, and municipal nature, no facility in the area can hold a candle to the Barton Creek Resort.  This all-encompassing resort has so much to offer – once you arrive you won’t need to leave the 4,000-acre property to have a complete and fulfilling vacation.

Among the offerings at Barton Creek are first class accommodations, 72 holes of professional level golf, a renowned golf academy and a full-service spa.

Founded just over twenty years ago, Barton Creek Resort has rocketed to acclaim and now regularly claims a position among the top golf resorts as ranked by publications like Conde Nast Traveler.

A major part of the appeal of Barton Creek is the setting.  Sprawling over acreage set in the fame Texas Hill Country, the intriguing property provides a delightful setting for varied golf course designs.

The home to events on the Canadian Tour, Barton Creek’s layouts offer up quality golf capable of testing all players while delighting you with picturesque natural backdrops.

It all starts with the Fazio Foothills course, the original layout in the property and what they call their “signature” course.  At 7125 yards it can be a bruiser – a course where birdies are possible but where a train wreck seems to wait around every corner.  This is a place where you want to keep the ball online or face the consequences.  Cliffs, caves, and water features are all part of the hazards you may tangle with.  The winding and geographically challenging 18th might be the best hole in the entire state.  At 546 yards it concludes with a mind-numbing approach played across a chasm, set just below the resort.

Just a few kilometres from the Resort is there other Fazio gem, the Canyons course.  This beast has a par 5 finishing hole that rivals that at the Foothills course.  Overall, it blends in more natural areas, ably showcasing Fazio’s ability to thread a layout among the gifts of nature.  If the 7000+-yard golf course beats you up you will be happy to know that this course is the site of the Chuck Cook Golf Academy where World Class programs, including popular Ladies Only Golf Schools, are offered.

For a much milder but still flavourful game you may want to retreat to the Crenshaw Cliffside course at Barton Creek.  Here the Austin native displayed his ability to create a minimalist design.  “We believe the best architect is nature and the best players’ courses make good use of the natural terrain.  We let the land dictate the routing rather than imposing ourselves on the landscape,” says Crenshaw of his design philosophy and he stuck to those principals at Barton Creek.  With wide fairways and large greens, even the novice golfer will find some success while the better play will be forced to use a strong strategy to have a successful scoring day.  Approaches to the greens must be hot to the right levels to garner birdie putts that are possible to be converted.

The only knock on Barton Creek is the location of their 4th course, the Palmer Lakeside.  A solid and attractive test it lies some 40 kilometres off the resort’s main property.  While the lake views and presence of fauna are admirable, the jaunt to get there is rather inconvenient.  The best advice is to stick to the Fazio and Crenshaw layouts.

As delighted as you will likely be at the quality of golf at Barton Creek, the resort itself is just as superior.  Three hundred guest rooms are appointed in what they call a “Texas Chic” style.  Interpreted that means a modern look and with tones and colours that seem to match the Texas landscape.  Whatever they want to call it, it should meet the expectations of any traveler.  You can also step up to one of the sixteen suites that have additional space and a guarantee of a great Texas Hill Country view.  You can also spot the golf courses out the windows from most of them.

The latest addition to the resort is the Spa.  This full-service oasis features 24 treatment rooms including massage and facial studios, one dual massage studio and a loofah room, separate ladies and men’s waiting areas and locker rooms, both featuring showers, whirlpool, sauna and steam room.  They also have a salon and nail studio along with offering a variety of exfoliation and herbal wrap treatments.  The Spa’s signature Texas-themed treatments integrate natural Texas ingredients to create indulgences such as the Texas Margarita Salt Glow, and the Austintacious… a Two-Step Massage and the Texas Mountain Laurel Body Scrub.

Whatever pleasure gets your attention, whether it is golf, a massage or just a relaxing time catching up on your sleep in a tranquil setting, Barton Creek Resort delivers.

Las Colinas

Heading northwest from Austin you will find the bigger environs of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex but despite the greater population density then Austin, a retreat away from the hustle of daily life can still be found.  PGA Tour players do it every year when they visit the Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas at Las Colinas.

Located in the Dallas suburb of Irving (also home of Cowboys Stadium, the famed NFL team) this resort offers up 400 acres of relaxation just minutes from downtown.

Just as with any Four Seasons property guests can expect nothing but elegance at Las Colinas.  397 guest rooms and suites are available, with many overlooking the resorts tour-level golf course and the Cottonwood Valley.  Although there is just one Byron Nelson Suite, the top accommodation offered, if you manage to save up your pennies for a long, long time you may be able to secure a night’s stay just once in your life.  If you can you will be overwhelmed.  Located on the 9th floor of the tower (the top floor) it boasts a baby grand piano and mahogany furnishings among the special touches.  You may not be able to afford this 2500 square feet of luxury but it goes to show how top quality this resort really is.

Mortals will find that even the moderate rooms (the lowest price of those offered) still have luxuries as marble floored bathrooms and pleasant views of Cottonwood Valley from their balconies.

Looking out from your balcony two things stand out in your view – the Dallas skyline and the tasty looking golf course below.  Home to the PGA Tour’s EDS Byron Nelson Championship each May, the Jay Morrish designed TPC Las Colinas golf course is a delight that is enjoyable to play over and over again.  Each round reveals little design nuances – showing the brilliancy of the design and proving why the layout is a much sought after ticket for every area golfer.

Access to the course is controlled through the resort although there is an associate program that will allow you to play at a slightly higher green fee.  They also have another 18; the Cottonwood Valley course but members of the club reserve it for use.  At approximately $200 (CDN) the TPC is not the cheapest course to play in the area but how often can you tee it up at the same place where the best pros in the world do.

What you will find at the TPC is a long course (7100 yards plus) that plays to a par of just 70.  Almost all the fairways are tree-lined, putting a premium on accuracy.  Further placing stress on your tee shots are a number of interventions by creeks and water hazards that are only to happy to receive your shot.

Unusual for Texas, due to the extreme heat that paces a great amount of stress on the surface, the greens are Bentgrass, providing a smooth and familiar putting canvas for northern visitors.  The Bermuda grass fairways and rough remind you that you are in the southern United States, especially when your ball finds one of the nasty clubs of grass in the rough that seem to be impossible to recover from.

Just as the golf course and accommodations are exemplary at the Four Seasons Las Colinas, so too are the other amenities they have to offer.

Everything about this resort is “tight”.  The look is clean and modern while still remaining simple.  Service is exceptional without being overdone.  You are left to explore on your own but a helping hand is always nearby when you need it.  The spa and fitness facility are considered the best in the city and the Café on the Green provides top-notch American meals with an Asian flair.

If forced to use just one word about Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas at Las Colinas, it would be “flawless.”  From the time you check in through to your departure, everything meets or exceeds expectations – disappointments of any kind never seem to even have a chance of arising.  If you have to make a stop in the “Big D”, you can’t go wrong at Las Colinas.