GRADE “A” ARCHITECTURE
Boot Ranch – Fredericksburg, Texas
8th Hole / Par-5 / 528 Yards
Architect: Hal Sutton with Jim Lipe (2006)
The single most common denominator for great golf holes rests on the land they occupy. While great holes can originate on flatter pieces of terrain, it’s more likely that quality topography will add to the overall strategic calculations and clearly provide exhilarating aesthetics that burn a lasting and deep memory.
The Hill County of South Central Texas is a beguiling setting. The land rolls in all sorts of directions and the intersection with various streams only adds to the majesty and tranquility provided.
Golf is no stranger to this area. A number of fine layouts have entered the golf scene but there is one demonstrating a clear impression for the synergy of how golf and Mother Nature work together in a meaningful partnership.
Boot Ranch is a private club located in Fredericksburg — roughly 90 minutes west of downtown Austin. The golf course is ideally located on 360 acres of land and is free of the inane intrusions which housing can clearly cause. When you commence your round the enduring feature is the sweeping nature of the land and how the golf holes work so well in concert.
Of special note is the par-5 8th. The 528-yard hole features a range of options for the players to ponder about very carefully. When you step on the tee the nature for what lies ahead is not immediately apparent. The hole provides a clear straight away but there’s another more risk oriented strategy for those who dare. Palo Alto Creek plays a major role at the 8th. The winding waterway clearly impacts the tee shot. The fairway is split into two sections. The safer play is the one previously mentioned. The more daring play is to hit one’s tee ball over the creek and through a fairly narrow opening down the left side.
Those opting to head that direction will need a carry of 250-260 yards from the tournament tees. The land moves left-to-right on the far side of the Palo Alto so being able to shape the tee shot is no less important than securing the needed carry yardage.
At no time does the hole force players to take the riskier route. The straight away tee shot works well but the wherewithal to get home in two shots is highly unlikely. Why? The same Palo Alto Creek that impacted the tee shot comes back into the picture as the creek winds in front of the green. Those who take the risk and hit over the left side — will have a far shorter 2nd but even then the need to skillfully execute is no less automatic.
The green sits 25 feet above the fairway. Those who opt to hit near enough to the creek without going in it will face a devilish short pitch — likely to a blind flag position. Those who opt to lay further back will increase the distance for the 3rd shot. The putting surface is banked from back to front with two distinct tiers. Approach shots going deep into the green will need a deft touch to leave the hole with a par.
The soundness of the 8th is that so many options are available to the fullest range of players. Each time the ball is about to be played a slew of clear options will be on the table for consideration. Being able to know one’s strengths and weaknesses lies at the heart of the 8th hole. Those who realize their ability level and execute accordingly will reap the bounty of a birdie or even a magical eagle. Those who fail to do so will find 8th fully capably in extracting bogey or worse.