Review of Boot Ranch Golf Course
Wow, Wow, Wow – that just about sums up a round of golf at Boot Ranch! Boot Ranch Golf Course, just a few miles outside of Fredericksburg in some beautiful Texas Hill Country, is as good as it gets and is a must play Texas golf course. Boot Ranch is an exclusive private golf club with a maximum of 475 members and you need to do whatever it takes to play a round on this outstanding course which has won several awards and accolades including Best New Course and #8 in the Dallas Morning News Top 100 Texas Courses.
Hal Sutton, 14 time PGA Tour winner, is the visionary behind this exclusive golf community and golf course and he has designed a unique layout that will test every part of your game. To score well on Boot Ranch Golf Course you'll need to take your mind off the stunning scenery, abundant wildlife, waterfalls, and colorful landscaping and focus on course management, club selection, and shot making. Boot Ranch is fun, very demanding but fair, and requires finesse, some risk taking, accuracy over distance, and good use of a lot of your clubs.
To test every part of your game Hal Sutton designed the course with 5 demanding par threes, an equal number of dog legs left and right, uphill and downhill shots, and holes that play the wind from all angles. And he designed the layout to leverage the natural terrain which means you'll need to manage lots of forced carries, trees, rolling and sloping fairways, natural areas, deep ravines, and ponds plus bunkers, trees, and creeks in the middle of the fairways.
A round on Boot Ranch Golf Course is serene and very peaceful – a scattering of beautiful homes perched on the hills but no airplanes, road traffic, sirens, or barking dogs! With a very limited number of members, you'll get the feeling that you're the only one on the course except for the abundant wildlife. In fact, Boot Ranch is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and your cart comes with a checklist with over 120 mammal and birds for you to spot and add to your card.
You'll be hard pressed to find a more scenic golf course in Texas thanks to huge elevation changes that offer majestic panoramic vistas of the Hill Country – just riding the cart up and down the hills is a real treat. The first time we played, the wildflowers were in bloom and it was stunning with red, yellow, white, and purple wildflowers everywhere you looked. And the contrast of the lush fairways and greens and sand traps with the streams and ponds, colorful wildflowers and native fauna, and the tress makes it hard to focus on your game. Bring your camera!
Every hole at Boot Ranch Golf Course is unique, fun, and will throw something at you that will test your game, for example:
- several holes are going to look easy from the tee box but are deceivingly demanding – #14 for example is a 326 yard uphill hole past a couple strategically placed bunkers on each side of the landing zone and then a very tough shot to a raised guarded green that if you're a tad short, the ball will roll 50 to 80 yards back down to the fairway making for a challenging chip shot
- #10 is one of the "Wow" holes – a short 364 yard par four with an elevated tee shot to a downhill fairway with a big bunker smack dab in the middle of your landing zone; avoiding the bunker may be easy but the fairway slopes right into a deep ravine that you need to avoid off the tee box and your second shot needs to fly the ravine to get to the guarded green with little room for error. Bring a camera because you have a beautiful view from the tee box of the lake and several cascading waterfalls in front of the green which make this one of the most scenic holes we have played in Texas
- the five par threes are very challenging with long (181, 217, and 220 yards) carries over water or natural areas to well guarded greens
- #8 is a 528 yard dog leg left par five that is a blast to play and requires accuracy on every shot – the elevated tee shot needs to avoid the bunker, you need to manage the sloping fairway that will carry your ball to the creek that splits the fairway, and if the drive is long or sprayed right you're in trouble; survive that and the next shot needs to carry the creek but miss it on the right and where it crosses back in front of the green; then the approach shot needs to carry the creek to an elevated green with little room for error
The TIF Sport fairways were in perfect condition when we played and we felt guilty taking a divot. The fairways are rolling, contoured, and most have some severe slope to trouble that you'll need to manage on most shots and most holes have an uphill or downhill shot that you need to factor into your club selection. Hal Sutton did a fantastic job of designing Boot Ranch to compliment rather than confront the natural terrain offering you lots of shot making and risk reward opportunities. The fairways were firm which made for some longer than expected shots thanks to the extra roll and the slope. The first cut of the rough was playable during our round but if you miss it you're most likely lost in the natural areas with dense local fauna.
The bent grass greens at Boot Ranch were also near perfect. Most are raised with nasty false fronts where you'll get to watch your shot that just missed the green roll back down into a deep collection area or the fairway. The false front prevents a bump and run meaning you need to be nail it or play a little long which can in some cases result in trouble and hidden bunkers off the back side. The greens range in size and shape and most seem a little smaller than average and all are guarded putting a premium on accurate approach shots. Once you're on the green they are great – smooth, true, and a good speed of 8 to 9. They range from flat to gently sloping and contoured with a few subtle breaks.
The bunkers were in excellent condition with soft, thick, fluffy sand that is a joy to hit out of. They range from small pot sized with steep backs or faces to some long multi-fingered nasty natural sand areas with islands of tall native grass.
Before you head out you might consider playing a round on the executive par 3 to practice your shot making and putting. The 34 acre practice area is unique and has something of everything to help you practice your total game from hitting elevated tee shots to shaping shots around trees to chips shots to the green.
Once you play Boot Ranch, you're going to want to play it again, and again, and again and I don't think you would ever tire of playing this unique and challenging layout. All it takes to get to play this course as often as you want is to buy a lot or sign up for a non resident membership or make a member your best friend.
Boot Ranch is a very upscale and exclusive golf community that offers first class service, unequaled facilities, stunning scenery, and some great amenities. Read our review of Boot Ranch Golf Community to learn more.
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Service is some of the best we have ever experienced from the guard gate to the bag boys, the pro shop staff, and the locker room attendants. All of the facilities are top notch and very upscale. Everything from the locker rooms to the majestic panoramic views from the restaurant are very impressive. The restaurant is perched on the top of a knoll and has a great bar, outdoor patio, and excellent food.
Dr David Clark is a member of Boot Ranch and the author of the book "The Sacred Golfer, Seven Days in Utopia" which was made into a movie staring Robert Duvall and Lucas Black. The movie was filmed at Boot Ranch, Utopia, and Fredericksburg and you'll get a good glimpse of Boot Ranch Golf Course holes #3 and #10. Seven Days in Utopia is now available on Blue Ray and DVD and here is a link to a trailer of the movie.
For videos, photos and more about Boot Ranch and the course there, check out the Boot Ranch Website.
Erin Hale is head pro