Grade “A” Architecture

Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa

Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa
Austin, Texas
Coore / Crenshaw Cliffside Course (1991)
17th hole / 142 yards / Par-3
Architect: Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw


Among the earliest designs for the supremely talented twosome of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the Cliffside Course at Barton Creek demonstrates a key ingredient for the duo’s much heralded later successes that would follow their effort in Austin.

Architecture Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa

The architecture is really about showcasing the existing terrain — blending in — rather than standing apart. Coore and Crenshaw have always espoused a supporting role to what Mother Nature so magnificently can create.

Just recently, the overall facility itself went through a major updating and one of the courses that received some attention was Cliffside. Trees already encroaching target and site lines were trimmed back. 

The penultimate hole on the Cliffside Course accentuates precision given its short 142 yards. The hole commences from an elevated tee and the green is located on the other side of a deep trench that will quickly swallow any ball not played with sufficient effort.

Architecture Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa

The green is diagonally angled from lower left to back right. The front left area is quite narrow and when the pin is placed there the utmost in shot control is called upon. The green is clearly wide but the depth is appropriately narrow.

As mentioned, the elevated tee can often mean dealing with varying wind directions that can impact one’s play. The prevailing wind is generally behind the player and this can be quite vexing as the trajectory for the approach must be well gauged.

For those missing the green the challenge to recover will be quite testing as bunkers are in play for any half-hearted play from the tee and those missing long will find themselves in a most perilous situation with the putting surface running away from them.

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By M. James Ward

Omni Barton Creek is a resort and generally golf options at such facilities need to be created to give players a fun experience without overdosing on the difficulty side of things. Cliffside’s 17th hole is short enough for all handicap levels to reap the benefits from a well-played tee shot. You just have to earn it.

The renowned Hill Country of the greater Austin area is alive and well at Barton Creek and the 17th hole clearly demonstrate the prowess of Coore and Crenshaw. Showcasing a design style that works seamlessly with what a given site initially provided.

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