Review of Crystal Falls Golf Club in Leander
Wow, Crystal Falls Golf Club is a fantastic course – one of those that you say, "where have you been all my life?" and that you really regret finishing the 18th hole. The course opened in 1991 and is currently owned and operated by the City of Leander.
Crystall Falls Golf Club is a course that other courses should aspire to be when they grow up – it's fair but challenging, every hole (specifically on the front nine) is different from the others, some holes are stunning, it requires good course management and strategic play, and the rates are very reasonable. If only the conditions were a little better – but the terrain makes watering very challenging.
Part of what makes this course so fun to play is that the course designer carved the fairways out of some beautiful rolling hills just north of Austin. As such during your round you get to experience several dramatic elevation changes, rolling and contoured fairways, creeks and ponds, and greens that have settled in and use the natural terrain to provide slope, tiers, ridges, and contour.
The fairways are lined by trees and bluffs, 6 ponds, and a creek that lines and or crosses the fairways on 7 holes. You won't find any homes or barking dogs guarding the fairways but several big beautiful homes do dot the hillsides and overlook some of the holes, but they won't come into play. It's just you, some beautiful terrain, nature, and wildlife. However, you may hear balls ricocheting off the trees or some fellow golfers giving high fives or some wind whipping through the trees. What a beautiful property and unexpected for this area.
There are only three tee boxes with yardages ranging from 5194 to 6654 and you may think you're in for a walk in the park because it's so short. But the first time you play Crystal Falls Golf Club don't get overconfident. This layout throws a lot at you and the greens will cause trouble both on the approach shots as well as putts. This is a course where you need to manage the slope and elevation and tight fairways, play conservatively, and do whatever it takes to stay in the fairway. Club selection and course management are critical.
Don't let all of that scare you away – Crystal Falls is demanding but fair and it's a blast to play. Here are our reasons why Crystal Falls Golf Club is on Texas Outside's list of the Top Public Courses in Texas:
- reasonable rates for such a fun course
- lots of dramatic elevation changes and plenty of uphill and downhill shots along tight tree-lined fairways
- challenging green complexes of all shapes and sizes that include false fronts, severe slope to trouble, mounds, and plenty of natural contour
- course management and club selection are critical to score well and you need to manage the slope, blind shots, forced carries, tight fairways, and challenging approaches
- it's peaceful and quiet and scenic
- every hole is a little different and each hole has its own set of opportunities and challenges
- no bunkers to contend with but there is still plenty of stuff that can impact your score
- the staff is friendly and the GPS helps with front, middle, and back yardages to the green
The front nine of Crystal Falls is the most scenic and challenging, and it's a nine that you'll want to play again. Dramatic elevation changes (both up and down), water, wind, challenging greens, and sloping fairways can impact your score. Every hole on the front is different and will throw something at you to keep you on your game. Some of the holes we really loved include:
- #1 sets the stage for the front nine and gives you a feel for what to expect – a 502-yard par 5 with a severely sloping left to right tight fairway, a second shot that's blind and uphill, and a tough approach to a challenging putting service
- #2 is a short 164-yard par 3 but it's a big drop straight down to a green with water along the right and back side – club selection is critical to manage the big drop and the wind
- #4 is a beautiful and intimidating hole – a 410-yard par 4 with a long carry over a lake to a sloping fairway that can carry your ball into the lake or under a huge sprawling tree in the fairway that can block your uphill approach shot to the green
- #9 is a beauty (you'll need a beer after this one) – a 430-yard par 4 (#1 handicap) with a creek that cuts in front of the tee box and can come into play along the entire left side of the fairway, and then it cuts back across the fairway in front of the green and comes into play on the right side of the green
The back nine has some good elevation changes (#11 is a beautiful 192-yard par 3 with a dramatic downhill shot to a contoured green), blinds shots, challenging greens, a couple risk-reward opportunities, and some wide-open let-er-rip to tight fairways. Club selection, course management, and precision approach shots are critical on this nine – but it's easier than the front nine and it's your opportunity to turn in a low score.
The greens at Crystal Falls Golf Club were in good condition and ran at a good speed of around 9 or so. But they are very challenging – lots of significant slope, contour, and ridges; most are raised; and several are surrounded by trouble – mounding, swales, water, or trees. The slope makes it hard for the ball to hold the green and several times we watched in horror as what seemed to be a great shot rolled off the green and down the hill toward or into trouble. You need to come in high and soft and try to manage the green's slope and firmness. Bump and runs won't work because the greens are raised.
The fairways were in fair condition and all have some significant slope and lots of contour. They were firm and hard creating lots of extra roll. The rough was pretty rough and a mixture of dirt, rocks, and grass – but playable! Miss the rough and you're in the trees, thick native brush, or wet.
Bottom line – a demanding but fair 18 where every hole is a little different and requires some thought, course management, and good club selection – a very reasonable rate and a must play!
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Service is good and very friendly, the pro shop has the basics and the practice facilities are adequate. The grill has burgers, dogs, and sandwiches and beer. The pace of play can be a little slow as fellow golfers look for lost balls. When we played on a Saturday, there was no cart service and no marshall.
Wes is asst pro