Harvey Penick Golf Campus Review

Texas Outside Rating: 8.0

Golf - Public Course · 9 Holes · Par 72
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Harvey Penick Golf Campus Review

Review of Harvey Penick Golf Campus

Harvey Penick Golf Campus is on the south side of Austin on 112 acres of rolling heavily treed terrain and it's home to a 9 hole course, 3 hole par 3 course, practice facilities, and a 4,000 square foot pavilion for tournaments.  The Campus was named after Harvey Penick who was a Hall of Fame teaching professional and taught the likes of Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw.  Each hole has some words of wisdom from Harvey - for example, #2 states "never take a practice swing without aiming at something."

The facility opened in 2005 and is owned and operated by The First Tee of Greater Austin which is a non-profit organization that is the nation’s leading after school and golf instruction program for kids.  The program is designed to help build character, instill life enhancing values, and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.  Each of the golf holes on the 9 hole hole course is named after the core values for First Tee such as Courtesy, Confidence, Respect, Integrity, etc. 

The Harvey Penick Golf Course has three par 4s and six par 3s and four sets of tee boxes labeled expert, advanced, intermediate, and beginner.  The par 3s range from 140 to 192 yards from the tips and required a good shot to stuff it on the green.  The par 4s are 330 to 394 yards and a couple require some strategic shot making to par.  This is a great course to practice your short game.  Some of the holes will test your course management as well as shot making - you'll need to carry the creek a couple times, avoid some fairway and greenside bunkers, and stay out of the trees.  The head pro states that "a good golfer will tell you that the course will make you a better player."

Harvey Penick Golf Course is home to some fun holes like:

  • #1 is a 384 yard par 4 with an elevated tee box, a fairly tight fairway (25 yards wide with a lateral water hazard on the left hand side) with a small bunker in the fairway about where your drive wants to land, and a slight dog leg right to a green that is  guarded by a bunker
  • #2 is named Confidence and that's what you'll need to carry Walnut Creek and stuff it on the green - it's 192 yards from the tips and the green is shallow and only 24 feet deep
  • #6 is a fun and challenging 394 yard par 4 - it's named Judgment and Harvey's words of wisdom ("the woods are full of long hitters") are very appropriate for this narrow fairway which is only 25 yards wide with trouble on both sides (a lateral water hazard left and Out of Bounds on the right) plus Walnut Creek which crosses the fairway about 100 yards in front of a green which has a dip running through it's center - best leave the big dog in the bag and go for accuracy from tee to cup
  • #7 is also a fun 330 yard par 4 that requires some strategic shot making off the tee to avoid a large tree (which splits the fairway), stay out of the creek and give you a shot to the green which is set way off to the right - big long accurate hitters might try to fly the trees and creek and stuff near the green

When we played in October the fairways were in very good condition and thick - we couldn't get a lot of roll.  The  fairways are flat and range from tight to wide open and all are tree lined and real trouble if you spray the ball.   The rough was also thick and challenging.

The greens at Harvey Penick Golf Course were in very good shape and range from average size to a tad small, most have slope and some have a combination of dips, ridges, and contour.  Most of the bunkers guard the greens and some of the greens are raised putting a premium on your approach shots.  They were running a little slow (around an 8), held the ball well, and ran true. 

The bunkers were wet thanks to a recent rain, so it was hard to judge the condition which we guess would be about average with soft somewhat fluffy sand. 

In addition to the 9 hole course, there is a 3 hole course with 4 tee boxes and yardages ranging from 205 to 364 yards.  The 3 hole course is walking only and the price is included with your green fee for the 9 hole course or with a bucket of balls. 

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 2,127 56.4 84
Blue 1,643 59.6 88
White 1,361 63.9 98
Gold 1,872 58.0 85

Course Information

Greens Type:
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Course Map
Beware of water on 3 holes and the 13 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
8.0 out of 10
Fun to Play:
Front Nine Rating:
Back Nine Rating:


Approximate Weekend
$27.00 to $34.00

There is no cart service, the pro shop is very dated and has range balls and snacks/drinks only, and the practice facilities are good.



Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.