Texas Outside's Review & Raging of Lakeside Golf Club in Spicewood
Designed by Arnold Palmer, Lakecliff Golf Club opened as a private golf course in 2001. The course changed hands in 2019 and the new owners have done a remarkable job in improving the course conditions and helping the course recover from conditions which had deteriorated. When we played in March 2020 was very playable and we were impressed with the conditions which we thought were very good from the tee box to the cup, except for the bunkers and considering that the course was still transitioning from winter conditions. The new owners are homeowners in Lakecliff and seemed committed to making Lakecliff a premier Hill Country golf course. A new golf superentendent and head pro have also been hired. Lakecliff has also just moved from private to semi-private, opening the course for public play.
Arnold Palmer did an excellent job in designing a layout that leveraged the natural terrain and created a scenic and fun course to play. In fact, from my perspective, Lakeside Golf Club in Spicewood has a little bit of everything that makes me continue to play this expensive and frustrating game. Some of the reasons we love this course and rated Lakecliff a 9.2 include:
- the course is scenic with rolling hills, lots of trees, several views of the Lake Travis and the surrounding countryside, huge beautiful homes dot the fairways, plus rock-lined cascading creeks and wooden and stone bridges and a dozen manmade lakes add to the courses aesthetics
- the conditions are very good and the rates are reasonable for such a quality course
- the layout offers a little bit of everything that makes the course fun and challenging – lots of big bunkers, forced carries, water on 11 holes, tough approaches, great greens, risk-reward opportunities, and more
- the service is excellent and the grill has some good food
- you’re out in the country and it’s quiet and peaceful
- thanks to 5 sets of tee boxes Lakecliff offers an opportunity to make your round very demanding or fun and relaxing
- the Bent grass greens are excellent – soft and smooth and fast with a manageable amount of slope and contour
- the layout has good variety and some very fun golf holes and a good mix of holes that are fairly easy and straightforward and others that require a good shot off the tee, good course management skills, and/or a precise approach shot
Both nines are a pleasure to play (we liked the front a little more than the back thanks to the variety and uniqueness of some of the holes) and the back nine is a par 35 with 3 par 3s, 2 par 5s, and 4 par 4s. Some of the holes that we really liked included:
- #4 is a fun and challenging (#1 handicap) 500-yard par 5 that requires a carry over a deep ravine to a wide-open landing zone, then a slight left across a dry rock creek bed, and a challenging approach shot to a big odd-shaped green with lots of contour at the back, 3 big bunkers, and mounds and swales around the side and back of the green
- #8 is a short 333-yard dogleg left with an excellent risk-reward opportunity to go for the green (a blind shot) if you can carry 3 big bunkers on a mound and not roll into the lake that leads to the front right of the green with 2 big bunkers on the left
- #18 is a great finishing hole with a very challenging approach thanks to a lake that pinches the fairway and covers the right side of the green plus 2 more big bunkers and one bunker on the left front of the green
The bent grass greens at Lakecliff are excellent – soft and smooth and velvet-like, fast (around 10 or so), hold the ball well, and run true. Relatively speaking, they are flat to gently sloping with minor to no undulation. They are a wide variety of shapes and range in size from average to a tad small. All are guarded by some combination of bunkers, water, and mounds.
The fairways were also in very good condition with a few weeds popping up which is expected after the course sat unattended for a long period of time. The fairways are ample off the tee box and then range from wide open to a little tight. The fairways have a fair mix of strategically placed bunkers, mounding, and undulation that can cause uneven lies, some minor ups and downs, a good mix of dogs left and right, and some hazards (trees, creeks, ponds, ravines) that force you to deploy some good course management skills. The rough was wide and ranged from very playable to a tad thick. Miss the rough and you’re under the trees or in the native and thicker grass.
The bunkers at Lakecliff Golf Club range from small steep and deep pot bunkers to some huge multi-fingered monsters. Most of the faces are manageable but you’re not going to roll out. The sand was thin and gritty and heavy which may have been due to recent rains. Work on the bunkers was started in 2016 and they are currently working to regrade and edge all of the bunkers on the course in the fall and winter of 2016.
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Service is very good and very friendly. The pro shop has a limited supply of gear, mostly clothes. The bar and grill are good and the patio overlooks the lake and green of beautiful 9th hole. Practice facilities are excellent – good putting greens, a driving range, short game area and a state of the art teaching center with 6 of the 100 top US instructors.