Jep Wille is an Austin native, a golf course architect, the consultant to the City of Austin on the Morris Williams renovation and only current player that has won the Men's City Championship, The Firecracker Open, The Bluebonnet Cup and the Harvey Penick Invitational. I mention that playing record to emphasize that he has a perspective of an excellent player as well as a veteran of several golf course projects. He is aware of the needs of all levels of players and it is reflected in the current project at Morris Williams. He was kind enough to give GolfAustin.Org a tour of the Morris Williams Golf Course so we could provide an update on the project.
In this picture Jep is shown looking at the #11 green complex with the #11 fairway in the background. Players will be pleased to note the multi level contouring of the fairway that will provide more level lies for their approach shots to the green complex. This approach was also taken on # 7 fairway to break up the long incline on the tee shot and give players a more level lie for the approach shot to the green. Click on the photo to view an enlarged version and then use the back button to return to the article.
In touring the course one finds that the green complexes have been completely reworked and the fairways contoured to improve the playability and the visual aspects of the course. Considerable thought has been given to the amount of slope on the green, how an incoming shot will be received by the green, what portions of the green can be used for pin positions, chipping areas around the greens, when to use sand bunkers versus a grass bunker, proper drainage of the green complex and the cost factors involved in maintaining the course and the greens. Here is the 12th green complex where chipping areas have been added in front of the green, to both sides of the green and behind the green. Although the front of the green demands a shot that carries a steep slope, a flat chipping area in front of the green will allow players landing short an opportunity to get up and down with a good pitch and putt.
Additional tees have been added on several holes, providing more area for tee placement and in some cases adding length. In this photo looking from #6 fairway back at the green, notice the championship tee that has been added behind the original tee.
The tee shot for events like the Spring Mid-Amateur or the Men's City Championship will be about 30 yards longer and will encourage players to play to the right up the fairway. The same will be true on holes number 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 13, 15, 17, and 18. Readers should not take this list as 100 percent accurate since the writer's memory is involved in making this statement. In short, the course can be set up to play longer than it did.
On some holes, the green complexes have been moved to accomodate safety, add length, improve visuals or to overcome construction obstacles. For example, the green on number six was moved back and to the right. While the green complex will be more receptive to an incoming shot than the previous green, the shot will be longer. Here is the visual of the green on number six from the approach. Also notice the multi-level contouring of #7 fairway in the background, again to offer players a more level lie for their approach shots. The sides of the #7 have also been contoured to keep a shot hit in the fairway from running out of the fairway and down to the right as it did in the past.
Wille commented that since mid february when construction began, he has been amazed by the amount of progress that has been made and was very complementary of the skill levels of the City of Austin staff in term of moving dirt, shaping greens, solving irrigation problems and their general positive attitudes. He was also very complementary of Kevin Gomillion as an administrator and indicated that when facing difficult decisions Gomillioin has consistently taken the high road and done what was best for the project, even when that choice might have meant some difficulty in execution.
So, that's it for now. There is much more to the story but future updates will be forthcoming on this site and in our monthly newsletter. Thanks again to Jep for his time and good work to all involved. Keep it up.