Review & Rating of Stephen F Austin Golf Club San Felipe
Stephen F Austin Golf Club opened nine holes for play in the 50's and the back nine was added in 1972. For us city folks, this is a hidden gem (locals know all about it and the course gets a lot of play) with very good conditions, some fun and challenging holes, and an excellent value! When you look at the scorecard and see that there are only 3 tee boxes with yardages of 5258, 5718, and 6018 your first reaction may be “this should be a piece of cake!” Wrong – Stephen F Austin is short but puts a premium on accuracy rather than distance and in most cases you’re going to want to leave the big dog in the bag and focus on staying in the narrow tree lined fairways that twist and turn to the green as well as positioning your drive to give you a shot at the greens on the dog legs both left and right. In addition to some intimidating carries off the tee box you’ll need to be deadly accurate to hit the small guarded greens on the front nine and somewhat larger greens on the back. This is one of those courses where you get to use a lot of clubs and you need some good course management and club selection skills.
If you don’t try to crush the ball and play smart, you’ll have a very enjoyable round with an opportunity to turn in a good score. Stephen F. Austin Golf Club is out in the country and adjacent to Stephen F Austin State Park and you’re likely to see a wide variety of wildlife including white tail deer, raccoons, armadillos, squirrels, and lots of birds. It’s also a very peaceful and quiet course with no homes, dogs barking, ambulance sirens, or hecklers sitting on their back patio. However, you will hear the birds, woodpeckers, and the ricochet of golf balls careening off the trees!
The front nine at Stephen F Austin is harder by two to three storkes thanks to more water, more bunkers, and smaller greens. The first hole sets the stage for what to expect – a 367 yard dog leg right with a carry over water off the tee box and a tight fairway leading to a small green with a bunker on the left and a creek across the back of the green. The front nine at Stephen F Austin has water or deep dry creek ravines on four holes that you’ll need to cross and ten of the twelve bunkers, all of which are guarding the greens. The front nine is a par 35 with three par threes, two par fives, and five par fours. Some holes that are fun and challenging on this nine include:
- Three par 3s a couple of which are long (184 and 205) and two that require you to fly a deep ravine
- #3 requires a forced carry over a ravine to a narrow dog leg right fairway lined with a deep gully along the right side – accuracy off the tee is critical as is the approach to a skinny oblong green
- #9 is a short 360 yard dog leg left with a deep and wide ravine waiting for your second shot to a slightly uphill green with two bunkers
The back nine is newer and has better irrigation and as such is in much better condition with grass fairly thick but playable roughs, whereas the roughs on the front don’t get much water and are a mixture of dirt and grass. This nine is a longer with two par fives at 540 yards and a 195 yard par three, the greens are much bigger, and there is only one sand bunker, but there are some interesting inverted thick grass bunkers guarding the greens – in a couple of cases the greens have 6 of these terrors surrounding them! The fairways on the back nine are more rolling and some have plenty of roll and contour that can cause uneven lies. Some great holes on this nine include:
- #12 is a 540 yard par 5 that goes straight, then turns left, and back right leading to the green – you need to be accurate on every shot to par this beauty
- #13 gives you a view of the mighty Brazos River along the right side of the tee box and then it does a sharp turn left and goes up hill to the green
- #14 is a pretty but deceiving 141 yard par 3 with the only two bunkers on the back nine plus a lake with a water fountain protecting part of the front and all of the right side of the green
The fairways are all tight and tree lined, some with the eerie gray hanging Spanish moss which gives the course a lot of character. The trees are tall and in most cases they are too tall to try and fly to cut the dog leg. Miss the rough and you’re on the dirt under the trees with a tough, but recoverable worm burner or lost in the forest where you’ll need a chain saw and machete to find your ball.
The vast majority of the Stephen F Austin Golf Course greens were in near perfect condition with a 2 to 6 foot puttable fringe. They range in size from small to smaller on the front and about average size but a tad larger on the back nine. All have some very minor slope and subtle breaks. They run true and smooth and at a decent speed of around 8 or so.
The bunkers are small and all of them are guarding the greens. The lips vary but most are small and less than a foot but tall enough to prevent the ball from rolling in and back out. The sand is soft and fluffy and think – perfect!
When we played Stephen F Austin Golf Club was still recovering from a devastating couple of foods – one of when destroyed the clubhouse and pro shop, took out one of the greens, and did significant damage. Management has done a great job in getting the course back to normal.
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The pro shop and clubhouse were destroyed in the flood and a trailer is being used as the temporary clubhouse. The range and putting green are adequate. At each of the tee boxes is plaque with some very interesting history of the area.