The purpose of this write-up is to give a golfer the idea of how to better play a difficult course, Wolfdancer specifically in this case. I touch on what I like about the course and different strategies that I used to play it and ones that I wish I used instead. Hope you enjoy!
Wolfdancer Golf Club in Lost Pines, Texas, located outside of Austin, Texas is a phenomenal and difficult track. The big takeaways that I had were the tightness and the terrain of the golf course\ as rolling hills and undulation were prevalent during the entire round. When I played, the same weekend of the WGC Match Play at Austin CC, there was a ton of wind and because of the season there weren’t a ton of leaves on the trees. The combination of the wind, tightness of the fairways, and a plethora of trees made the course challenging.
I played with a college buddy from the Blue Tees which rated 76.3/130 and measured 6836 yards, though the course played much longer with the swirling winds.
Great practice facility with a long open driving range with some character. A chipping area buttresses the clubhouse to get a full warm up
The first hole of the day is a short 386 dog-leg right par 4. The bunkers on the right add a little danger while going left lengthens the hole substantially. I hit a 4i left to start the day and regretted not trying to cut the corner.
The beauty of a hole built into the land
Laying back of the bunkers leaves a blind approach, not what you want.
Approach shot into the green if you hit past the bunkers on the right side.
A collection area front left of the green penalizes a player for coming up short.
A tiered, long, and fast green penalizes a long approach shot, so distance control is paramount.
The second hole a challenging 431-yard par-4 with slight right to left slope.The best angle to the green is with a drive that goes up the right side of the fairway, taking the bunker out of play on the approach shot. This tree needs to be cut down, it really doesn’t add any strategic value in my opinion and just hurts play-ability in my opinion.
The view from an optimal approach angle.
Undulating greens is the norm for Woldancer and #2 is no exception. Apologies for the bad quality picture.
A Wolfdancer Signature par-5 measuring 603 yards with magnificent views from the Tee-box looking out over Austin and the rest of Texas. The optimal shot is to go left through the corridor of bunkers, then come back right through another corridor towards the green.
Carrying the long and wide bunker in the middle is optimal, leaving 275 to the green, where a lay-up is easy and going for the green in two is possible.
Another undulating green, even on the long par 5’s.
A look back from the green
A long and difficult par 3, that was especially tough with the wind. It plays to 233 to the middle of the green. With a large green-side bunker, the safe route is to bail out left into a collection area, leaving a player short-sided to a pin on the bottom left. With a pin to the right a player must try to carry the bunker, 235 yards, or be faced with a long tough chip.
Another long, undulating, par-5, this one at 594 yards. Getting to the green in two is extremely difficult even if you pipe your drive. I hit a great drive down the right side but layed up to 100 yards as there is danger in front of the small green.
View from the Tee Box
The golf cart is the same place I hit my tee shot,
Laying up to 100 yards took the front bunker and the front depression out of play. I hit my chip too fat and ended up there anyway, not somewhere you want to be.
A mid-length 166 yard par-3 surrounded by water and bunkers, making distance control paramount. There is a ridge that goes through the middle of the green, again, which makes for a difficult putt if you aren’t on the correct side of it. Wolfdancer does a good job of mixing up the distances on the par 3’s.
A look from the tee box and the waterfall that leads to a pond in front of the green. Even from here it is easy to see the undulation of the green complex.
Hole #7: A short 278 yard straightforward par 4 with undulating fairways and greens. There is a gorge in front of the green so trying to drive this hole is very risky. I took a 4i and ended up near the tree in the middle of the fairway, a good place to lay-up which leaves a wedge into the green. The difficulty with this hole is that you need to lay-up. Trying to drive the tight and undulating green with danger in the front and back is a recipe for disaster.
Hole 8: A long, (483 from the tips but only 435 from where I played from) fun par-4 built perfectly into the terrain. The key is to avoid the bunker on the left side and aim for the tree on the right. I ended up under the tree after a lucky kick down the slope and can see how it would impede play-ability. I would prefer it to be taken out as it seems out of place and is just standing by itself, then again I’m not a course architect. The green is heavily sloping back to front so a front pin placement is difficult.
A view from the tee box, the left bunker is definitely in play
I got a good kick off the ridge and ended up next to this tree. The view above is from near the green.
The small green complex that runs back to front.
Missing long leads to a tough chip coming back
Hole #9 Closing out the front 9 is a 428-yard par-4 that plays a lot shorter than that. The key is to aim between the two trees on the right to kick off the right side of the fairway. The hole slopes heavily from right to left causing a good drive to run down leaving about 90 yards to the hole. The approach to a punch-bowl green can be challenging with the undulation in the fairway. Again the course works extremely well with the terrain.
Aiming for the right side of the fairway is ideal and actually shortens the hole. Going left will leave a tough shot from the rough or even the trees.
Overall: A very challenging but fun front 9. I needed to be smarter about my course management and when to go for a tight shot and when to just try and make it on the green. The conditions with the wind and the wet grass made approach shots difficult and playing at a different times in the year definitely will change how the course plays.
Takeaways: I need to take a lot more pictures. Looking back I wish I was more systematic in that regard. It does take away from the focus on the round and trying to score.
I will be doing more of these and getting more pictures so keep an eye out.