Recent News

Wind To Be A Factor At Dell Match Play

Camera Tower on #12

Camera Tower on #12

As evidenced by the flag blowing on the camera tower to the right of #12, players were playing and practicing in a 20 mph breeze with occasional higher gusts on Tuesday.

The forecast is for more of the same on Wednesday with a chance of rain and a switch of wind direction to the north with similar velocities.

As most courses in this area, Austin Country Club is designed for a prevailing southeast breeze and it will significantly change the way the course plays if the wind goes to the north.  Players who were here early had the opportunity to play the course in a north wind on Sunday and Monday so that will be to their advantage.  Most players did not have that opportunity.

Ben Crenshaw

Ben Crenshaw

Fans were treated to more opportunities to collect autographs and local celebrities like Ben Crenshaw were among the autographs sought after by fans.  Crenshaw gave a press interview and was gracious enough to sign autographs for fans in the right place at the right time.

And, those fans came in all sizes and shapes like these two youngsters who proudly displayed their flags with player autographs.

Click here for more photos of fans.

Click here for photos of players in action.

Young fans with their autographed flags.

Young fans with their autographed flags.

Some of the hospitality tents were open and folks enjoyed the impressive facilities.  One of those is the “1899 Club”.  It is located on the left side of #12 fairway is approximately 80 yards long and three stories high.  Spectators will be able to watch the players play their second and third shots to the green with the 360 bridge and Lake Austin in the background.  It’s quite impressive.

Matches begin Wednesday morning and the fans will receive scoring brackets on the grounds as they enter.  Live scoring for the matches is available on the World Golf Championship website at this link.

 

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Tuesday, Final Practice Round

Monday night at the Paramount Theater the player brackets were determined.  Tuesday morning the players headed to the course for their final practice round before play begins Wednesday morning.

Billy and Pam Clagett

Billy and Pam Clagett

The spectators showed up early and watched players battle an increasingly strong south wind.  Gusts in the 25 mph range made practice difficult.  Local golfers, such as Billy and Pam Clagett, seemed to be enjoying themselves even if the players were not.

DSC00628Fans were able to obtain player photographs.  Jack and Jackson Cardwell managed to get Adam Scott, a two time winner this season, to sign their flag before he began practicing.  This was an obvious delight to young Jackson and his proud father.  They were having a good time.

Jack and Jackson Cardwell

Jack and Jackson Cardwell

Friends and fans all seemed to be enjoying the weather and the celebrity of the worlds best golfers being present.  Click here to see photos of some of the people in attendance.

Meanwhile the golfers were hard at work on the practice tee and the course.  Phil Mickelson spent some time on the range and  Dustin Johnson was hitting balls next to him and was on the range for a couple of hours.  Nick Faldo spent some time with Lee Westwood and Chuck Cook was working with Jason Duffner.

All in all it was a golfers fantasy world.  Click here to see photos of golfers swings.

Matches begin Wednesday so it should be exciting.

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Dell Match Play Draw Event

Paramount Theater

Paramount Theater

The Paramount and State Theaters in Austin, Texas have hosted a wide variety of events over the years including world premiers of movies, musical celebrations of various artists, fund raisers, political debates and theatrical productions such as a sing along with “The Sound of Music”.

Monday, March 21st, it was the host to the Dell Match Play Draw Event that determined the brackets for players to compete against each other in the initial rounds of the Dell Match Play World Golf Championship.  Click here for photos of the event.

Guy Forsyth

Guy Forsyth

Consistent with the title of “Live Music Capital of the World”,  Guy Forsyth, a staple of the Austin music scene,  provided musical entertainment for the media and the “VIP” group that attended the function.  He was great.

Michael Dell, Rory Mcllroy, Ricky Fowler, Ben Crenshaw, Charlie Strong, Colt McCoy, Tom Kite and Andy Roddick participated in the draw process, broadcasted live on the Golf Channel.  The atmosphere was interactive and full of fun.

Both Mcllroy and Fowler were present for the draw in their group and it was entertaining to watch their reactions and hear their comments on their approach to this tournament and the upcoming Masters tournament.

Rory Mcllroy at Dell Match Play Draw

Rory Mcllroy at Dell Match Play Draw

Both commented that it was important to have their game trending in the right direction for the Masters.  This tournament figures prominently in both the world golf rankings and their preparation for the Masters.

Mcllroy had just arrived in Austin and indicated that during the ride from the airport to the event he inquired about the best place to eat Bar-B-Que and Mexican food but he declined to comment on which places he had chosen.

Mcllroy commented that he approached match play differently than stroke play in that he concentrated on playing the individual more than the course.

Ricky Fowler

Ricky Fowler

Fowler  commented that he enjoys Austin and has attended a variety of events in the city including collegiate tournaments at the UT Golf Club, the F1 races, and motocross.

In spite of wearing the wrong color of orange in Austin, he says he still likes the city and has fun when he is here. (He played college golf at Oklahoma State, whose colors also include orange).

Tomorrow, all the top 64 players in the World Golf Rankings will be at Austin Country Club in their final preparations for the tournament.  It should be very entertaining.

 

 

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Dell WGC – Monday Practice Round

Sergio Garcia on practice tee

Sergio Garcia on practice tee

The world’s best golfers played practice rounds at Austin Country Club on Monday March 21, 2016.  And, according to plan, the first day of Spring and the WGC championship had perfect weather.

Austin Country Club members along with Dell ticket holders were present to watch the action.  The foursome that drew the most attention included Jordan Spieth, Ricky Fowler, Jimmy Walker and Justin Thomas.

Staff of Planning Works enjoying the sunshine and golf

Staff of Planning Works enjoying the sunshine and golf

Click here to see more photos.

As the foursome made it’s way through the front nine, the gallery grew and groups of fans like these folks from Planning Works seemed to be enjoying both the weather and the golf.  There certainly seemed to be a “wow” factor going through the spectators as they watched the quality of shots and had to opportunity to watch these players up close.

The early morning chill gave way to warmer temperatures as the day progressed and at 1:30 p.m. the temperature was in the 70’s.  Sweaters came off although windbreakers were still in order due to the breeze.

Justin Thomas and Jimmy Walker watch Jordan Spieth tee on on #9.

Justin Thomas and Jimmy Walker watch Jordan Spieth tee on on #9.

As players practice and make their way round the course they await the pairings to be determined Monday evening at the Paramount Theater.  Players will be seeded according to their position in the world golf ranking as of Monday, March 21.  There will be four pools of players: Pool A are the players ranked 1-16, B is 17-32, C is 33-48, D is 49-64.

A random draw will determine how these players are grouped into 16 groups of four that contain one player from each pool.  They will compete against each other for two days in a match play format to determine which 16 players will advance and play matches against each other to determine the champion.

Spieth plays his 2nd shot to #9 green

Spieth plays his 2nd shot to #9 green

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Dell Match Play Championship – Final Preparations

Jordan Spieth practicing putting on Sunday March 20, 2016

Jordan Spieth practicing putting on Sunday March 20, 2016

After almost three months of erecting hospitality tents, media tents, vendor booths, food and beverage stations etc. Austin Country Club looks like a site for a World Golf Championship.  Click here for photos of the facilities, the course and players practicing.

Construction crews built foot bridges tweaked the golf course conditions, hauled in television equipment, roped off spectator areas, built bleachers, and have done so in the least intrusive manner possible.

The greens superintendent, Bobby Stringer, along with the PGA Tour staff have worked non-stop to bring the golf course to a peak of readiness and it is in great condition. The height of the net on the practice tee was raised to 100 feet to contain the long hitters on the practice tee.

Bobby Stringer,Greens Superintendent at Austin Country Club

Bobby Stringer,Greens Superintendent at Austin Country Club

A nine month restoration project that began in January 2015 was completed in November.  It improved the green complexes, removed some trees for better sight lines, added a few bunkers, replaced the fairway turf, and in general improved the course.

DSC00150The Austin Country Club board and committees negotiating with various businesses for parking, worked with the City of Austin as well the Lower Colorado River Authority and other governmental agencies to obtain necessary permits for a significant event and attended to numerous other logistics and details.

Now, the event is about to begin with practice rounds Monday and Tuesday before the matches begin on Wednesday.

 

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Walking On Water At The Dell Match Play WGC

DSC00075Patrons entering through the main gate near the 360 bridge at Lake Austin will be walking on water to gain access to the golf course.  Golf Austin.Org staff stopped by the site on Saturday morning to check on the state of construction for the foot bridge.  Workers there were installing the final span of a footbridge that starts near the bridge and ends at the front of number 13 tee box.

These photos give some idea of what that looks like.  At the time the photo was taken the handrails were not yet installed and the final section of the bridge was being installed.  Workers indicated that they would be finished later today or Sunday morning.

View of the back nine at the Dell WGC.

View of the back nine at the Dell WGC.

The hospitality tents and vendor tents on the back nine appear to be ready for use.  As can be seen from this photo taken from across the lake, the back nine will provide plenty of spots for patrons to camp out and enjoy watching golf and the boat traffic on the lake.

How do I tee this up?

How do I tee this up?

Ever had trouble teeing up your golf ball?  You are not alone, as demonstrated by these two individuals contemplating the best method of teeing up this golf ball.

Click here for more photos of how the preparations on the back nine looked on Saturday morning and some of the work being done on the footbridge.

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Jay Reynolds Wins Regional Tournament at Comanche Trace

Jay Reynolds Wins 2016 Regional Championship

Jay Reynolds Wins 2016 Regional Championship

Jay Reynolds shot nine under par for two rounds at The Club at Comanche Trace in Kerrville, Texas to capture the 5th Regional Championship by nine shots.   The tournament was held March 12-13 on the Hills/Creek course.

Reynolds posted 67-68 =135, nine shots under par.  The competition is hosted by Golf San Antonio and Reynolds represented the Austin.  Reynolds had a great golfing season last year that included setting a new course record of 60 at Lions Municipal Golf Course in route to winning the Men’s City Championship.  He is off to a good start for 2016.

Congratulations to Jay.

Click here for full field scores.

 

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Dell Match Play Championship Near

Blank Scoreboard

Blank Scoreboard

The Dell Match Play Scoreboard is in place at Austin Country Club, where the PGA Tour crews are working early and late to finish preparations for the event.  The match play format is unusual in that the field of 64 players will be divided into 16 groups of four.  Each group will have two days of matches, Wednesday and Thursday, against the players within that group to determine the final 16 players that will advance.  That format is reflected in the scoreboard.

Number 1 tee box is surrounded by bleachers and has a walkway over the cart path to allow players and foot traffic to gain access to the stands.  The bleachers are only a few feet from the tee box so spectators should have a close up look at the players.

Television towers, hospitality tents, vendor areas, signage for traffic, footbridges, tractor trailers full of golf equipment and television gear are appearing and finding their place.

Parking lots are filling up with tractor trailers of gear as the PGA’s traveling show settles in for the Dell Match Play Tournament.  The shot link trailer is parked immediately behind the practice tee.

shot link trailer

shot link trailer

For those fans who are not familiar with this technology, it is a system that feeds data to the announcers pertaining to distances that players face on a particular shot, as well as keeping stats on players performance.

Fences are being erected around the putting and chipping greens along with flags to add gaiety and an air of formality to the event. The putting green and chipping green both are in great shape in terms of the quality of the grass and it appears that the players will have quality conditions if the weather cooperates during the tournament.

cart path to the chipping green

cart path to the chipping green

The clubhouse lawn will serve as a food and beverage area where patrons with passes will be allowed to purchase food and drink as they watch the golfers.

Various ticket packages that have been sold that will allow access to different areas of the clubhouse and hospitality tents on the course.

Hospitality tents are everywhere on the back nine of the tournament course

clubhouse hospitality area

clubhouse hospitality area

which is normally the front nine for member play.  Holes 10 and 11 are on top of the hill then number 12 comes off the hill and runs along the lake.  Holes 13-15 run along Lake Austin in a links style golf course.  Number 16 begins the ascent back up the hill where 17 and 18 finish on top of hill.   This nine holes has room for spectators, hospitality and vendor areas that the other nine does not have available.

As anyone who lives in Austin knows, the “winter” has been mild.  All the trees, grasses, flora and fauna are in full tilt bloom and various shades of green adorn the hillsides.  It is a beautiful time the year and will provide great spectating.

number 12 tee box

number 12 tee box

It’s not Augusta but it’s nice scenery.

Shown here is the number 12 tee box with a flowering tree in the foreground.  The adjacent par three, number 11, has spectator seating behind the green and the hillside will allow spectators to stand or sit and view the action as well as the Lake Austin.

The tee shot on number 12 affords one of the best vistas on the course as players view the elevation change and can see the entire hole.   The fairway winds down the hill and zig zags toward the green alongside the water.  The bridge over lake Austin is cast against a background of the Texas Hill Country.  It’s worth seeing.DSC00026

There will be spectating opportunities from the water.  Boats will be allowed within 100 yards of the shoreline and there will be a no wake zone along the golf course from the bridge to the eastern most point of the course.

Information about parking, gate entrances, hours operations, etc. is available at this link.

More photos are available here.

 

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Photos Of Preparations At Austin Country Club

There are numerous projects underway at Austin Country Club in preparation for the Dell WGA Match Play Championship.  It’s a busy place as can be seen in the following photographs.

There are lots of logistical challenges for the PGA tour staff to overcome in staging this tournament.  As Austin golfers know, this course is situated in a residential neighborhood and the surrounding area is a high traffic area.

Media Center on the practice tee

Media Center on the practice tee

On top of all that, this year the tournament will take place on Easter weekend.  All of these factors combined require the tour staff to be creative and the Austin Country Club membership to be flexible and understanding of the challenges.  Creative solutions, such as locating the media center on the practice tee, are a byproduct of the situation.

Other accommodations are being made to make the course usable for the best players in the world.  For example,

Back of the range from 15 fairway during construction.

Back of the range from 15 fairway during construction.

the netting on the driving had to be raised to prevent players from driving balls out of the range into the course behind the range.  It was raised another 60 feet.  From the back of the range to the bottom of the fence is approximately 250 yards and slightly uphill.  The net is now about 120 feet high at the back of the range.  During construction, which lasted about a month, member were restricted to hitting shots of 100 yards or less to protect the workers.

Completed netting on the driving range

Completed netting on the driving range

The poles are now metal instead of wood and the construction quality is first class, which diminishes the somewhat distracting visuals of such a tall net.

Construction crews are busy and generally respectful of member play.  Staging areas for construction are located in the lower parking lots and there is continuous activity throughout the day. DSC00253 (2)Frost delays have slowed play more than the construction taking place and it has been interesting to see what is needed to stage an event of this magnitude.

The spectator views are spectacular on what will be the second nine during the tournament.  Shown below is a view of what will be the 12th hole as viewed from one of the hospitality areas. Spectators will be able to see tee shots land, second shots played and then follow the action to the green.DSC00256 (2)

There are approximately 11 structures in place and in speaking with PGA tour director of operations, there will be somewhere around 20 by the time all of the vendor tents are completed.

Some of these hospitality structures are substantial in size.  For example, the “1899” club that will house Austin Country Members and their guests is a three story facility.

DSC00249 (2)There will be some interesting shots available because of the hospitality tents.  For example, the tent behind the green on the 13th hole during the tournament might allow players to hit a tee shot directly at the green and use the tent for a backstop instead of laying up in the fairway.

From #4 tee box #(13 during the tournament) 280 carry to the green from back of the tee box

From #4 tee box #(13 during the tournament)
280 carry to the green from back of the tee box

Normally, it would not be prudent to aim at the green from the tee because the ball would run too far over the green if the player landed a ball on the green.

Players will also face interesting views as some of hospitality tents are plainly in the sight lines of some holes.

View from the 15th tee box.

View from the 15th tee box.

The 15thtee box during the tournament will look somewhat daunting as the players view the fairway that winds through the various hospitality areas.  Shown here is the view from that tee box.

World class players will probably not be phased by such a challenge but it is interesting to contemplate what will go through their mind.  It can’t be much different from of the situations they face in playing on a worldwide basis.  After all, they have to drive over a hotel on the famous road hole at the St. Andrews course in Scotland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Austin Country Club Undergoing Transition for Dell World Golf Championship

Austin Country Club is being transformed into a tournament site for the Dell World Match Play Championship and the changes are happening on a daily basis.  Beginning in early January, PGA tour staff appeared on site to begin supervising a series of construction projects.

There is a virtual city of corporate hospitality tents being erected.  These include the 1899 club, the beginnings of which are show in the photo below, along with nine other structures scattered along holes 3-7.

The most visible changes to the course are taking place on what is now the front nine.  This will be the back nine during the tournament.  Reversing the nines provides a number of advantages. First this nine comes out of the hills and runs along the Lake Austin in a links style layout.  The views of Lake Austin are spectacular and there is more room for spectators.

Secondly, it will provide the spectators with better viewing opportunities because the other nine holes wind through a hilly residential area that would not accommodate similar construction.

In addition, the boating public will have the opportunity watch some of the action from the water.  Rumor has it that even some of the media will take advantage of that viewing perspective.  It should be an interesting scene given the opportunities for Austinites to “keep it wierd”

The title sponsor, Dell Corporation, along with other Austin area businesses has purchased portions of various hospitality tents.  They will no doubt enjoy the views and the golf as well as entertain clients, family, and friends.

Another modification that has taken place is an extension of the netting on the back of the practice range.  Some of the players in the field can drive a ball extraordinary distances.   The net had to be raised to avoid launching balls over the net and into the 15th fairway.

The net was raised approximately 50 feet and the top of the net is now some 120 feet high.  From the back of the range the base of the net is 250 yards and slightly uphill.

The construction took several weeks and is now complete. It appears to be a job well done.  All the poles are aligned properly and netting is tight.  It looks better than many feared it might.  Whether the modification will be effective in terms of containing the bombers in the field, remains to be seen.

There are a number of interesting logistical challenges that are yet to come, including parking and spectator access to the course.   We will keep you posted as things progress.

 

 

 

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