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Driftwood Ranch and Golf Club

DRIFTWOOD, Texas — Jordan Spieth and Fred Funk could be in your next foursome.

Yeah, maybe that’s a stretch, but my visit to Driftwood Ranch and Golf Club did result in a “howdy” and short pleasantry with Funk who arrived at valet parking at the same time.

If you have ever played a Discovery Land Company property you know it will be a special day. At the Hideaway in La Quinta Doug Sanders’ foursome waved my group through at another Discovery Land Company golf course. Duck quesadillas were served at the turn.

At Driftwood Ranch my group enjoyed Texas BBQ and just about anything you could dream up to snack on and drink at the “Comfort Stations”.

“Those were the finest amenities I have ever experienced on any golf course anywhere,” said Gary McWilliams, college roommate and retired physician from Boerne, Texas. “If Buc-ees and Augusta had a baby, this might be it. I was cradled in comfort from the moment a valet attendant met me as I drove up and the BBQ pit on the course at a back nine comfort station was outstanding.”

Driftwood Ranch, 30 minutes from downtown Austin, is developed in rolling hills and 800 acres with massive 100-year-old live oak trees, limestone rock outcroppings, natural and man-made wetlands, flowing creek, prickly-pear cacti, Texas wildflowers and wildlife habitat corridors. Beautiful Onion Creek is nearby and so is a landmark BBQ joint — the Salt Lick.

Refined by world-class amenities, you could travel far and wide to seek such pampering. It is a family-focused country lifestyle with golf and practice facilities at a grand scale.

After consultation with Spieth, Driftwood put forth a substantial practice game area. It has a 13-acre two-sided driving range and a six-acre short game area of Zeon Zoysia, with a water feature that runs throughout the large greens, allowing for practice for every shot and all skill levels.

On one visit Fazio said top players could be satisfied just staying on the “mindblowing” practice acreage since they could be the best facilities pro golfers would ever see.

So what are the advantages of Zeon Zoysia? Massive rolls were sprawled out like carpet and there was immediate coverage with no erosion. The grass, supplied by Bladerunner, was used on tees, fairways, rough and green approaches. There’s low maintenance, less chemicals, less fertilizer, less mowing and less water to maintain it.

Members of my group were met with enthusiasm by Casey Paulson, Project President, and after warm up we headed out for a ton of pampering and top shelf golf that stretches out to 7,662 yards, par 72, and with knowledgeable caddies by our side.

The Zeon Zoysia was immediately a hit on the par-4 first hole, 425 yards, wide fairway and rolly-polly perfect green of 007 bentgrass.

After playing the sixth you meet up with the first comfort station before heading out to more entertaining golf and the almost 600-yard, par-5 ninth. Ping pong and cornhole are also comfort station activities.

But the course’s strength comes in a crescendo, a climactic ending — the finishing holes.

Fazio, in typical architectural speak, says they could be some of the finest finishing holes in golf. He’s one of the most sought-after designers in the business — so busy he has no website and no phone number can be found in web searches.

The 203-yard, par-3 17th could be the most discussed. Originally designed with a small lake fronting the green, things changed with input from club organizers. To create something even more enticing they decided an investment of $1 million more would be needed to make the “lake” much larger.  You will know immediately the impact when you arrive on your tee — senior golfers might just reach for the driver.

Water is ever present on the back nine with seven holes with wet consequences. The entirety of the 16th, a 485-yarder, has water right, and the finale is a 476-yarder which narrows by the green with a pond and waterfall with the clubhouse in view.

Exploring off the golf course

Driftwood’s two distinct yet connecting parcels are named The Creek and The Ranch. Here luxurious lifestyle amenities and year-round recreation activities are prominent.

There are multiple concert venues, and a wealth of recreational activities including a family pool complex with Lazy River, splash pad and Flowrider. There’s an activity barn for arts and crafts; sports fields, basketball and bowling; pickleball and tennis courts; a spa and wellness center with a lap pool; a two-story fitness center and a recreation concierge to set up guided outdoor pursuits. And an organic farm, vineyards, and songwriter’s studio fill out the docket.

Kids and adults can use the Fish Camp for tandem kayaking and stocked pond fishing. And there’s more than five miles of hike and bike trails along with  Onion Creek viewing. Riders of all levels will enjoy a progressive mountain bike trail system and pump tracks.

Sustainably sourced ingredients define Driftwood’s culinary program and the chefs feature creative, seasonal, and locally-inspired dishes throughout several dining venues, all sourcing fresh produce from on-site organic farms.

Going downtown in Austin?

Driftwood Downtown provides a relaxed atmosphere for work or play in a stylish, sophisticated, and comfortable space. With three distinct levels – the Tap Room, Mezzanine and private rooftop – this is where coworking with clients turns into happy hour at the golf simulator and ends with evening cocktails on the private rooftop overlooking downtown Austin. The venue’s modern aesthetic underscores Discovery Land Company’s commitment to the finest in luxe design.

Play amenity-driven awesome golf, bottle your own wine, take a hike to Onion Creek — all this for a few million. Yep, welcome to the ever-expanding gateway to the Texas Hill Country. Californians are moving to Texas every day saying “what a bargain!”