The more you think back to your round at the Wolfdancer golf course at Hyatt Lost Pines near Austin, TX., the more you realize just how good it is and how underrated is its designer, Arthur Hills.
The spirit of Texas is beautiful to many. The fierce independence, the belief that bigger is better, the endearing confluence of Southern, Western and Southwestern cultures, values, and...food define the Lone Star State as a very special place.
Somewhat less impressive it's fair to say (though I shall never hear the end of it from my Texan friends) are Texas's physical attributes. Yes, it's absurdly large, but it's not the prettiest state in the Union. Divided into four geographical regions - Gulf Coastal Plains, Interior Lowlands, Great Plains, and Basin and Range Province, Texas's scenery lacks the wow factor of Colorado, Idaho, Oregon or California, for example.
Of course, that's not to say it doesn't have its moments, far from it. The Hill Country is a particularly lovely part, covering 25 counties and extending south and west from the State's center.
Just to the east of Hill Country, 15 miles from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and ten miles west of the handsome town of Bastrop which suffered a devastating wildfire in September in which 1,645 homes were destroyed and two people tragically lost their lives, is the magnificent 405-acre, 491-bedroom Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort.
Located on the banks of the Colorado River (not the Colorado River, the shorter Colorado River which actually has its source and mouth inside Texas), the Hyatt Lost Pines was designed and developed by the Dallas-based Woodbine Corporation and opened in 2006. As well as the highly-regarded Spa Django, a pretty cool waterpark, horseriding, river-riding, and various other amenities/activities, the hotel is home to the Arthur Hills-designed Wolfdancer Golf Club, named in honor of the traditional wolf dance of the Tonkawa Indians who once inhabited this area.
The course is fairly typical of Hills in that you never really recognize how good it is until you think back a day or two after playing it. There are plenty of holes you'll love right away - the Par 5 3rd with its myriad bunkers and exceptional views, the testy Par 3 6th, the lovely tree-lined 10th, the short, Par 4 90-degree dogleg 11th, the downhill Par 3 12th (yes, that string of three holes is about as good as it gets), the intriguing Par 4 15th, and the daunting final hole with its peculiarly narrow and heavily-bunkered green - but others that might not grab your attention immediately but which, you recognize sooner or later, are terrific in their own way - the two opening holes, the long 5th, the 7th, 8th, and 9th, the 13th and 14th.
That leaves three holes I've not mentioned - 4th, 16th and 17th. And you know what? They're perfectly good too.
The more you think about Wolfdancer, the better it becomes. It really is an entertaining round of golf, and if you're lucky after you finish, you'll get to meet Tiny Leach who once owned most of the land on which the course now sits. Tiny has organized the Texas Women's Amateur Golf Association's annual Match Play Championship for the last 36 years, and this year celebrated her 80th birthday when the tournament was played at Wolfdancer. The stories she can tell...
When to go: The first three months of the year each get about two inches of rain, and you'll see 7-9 rain days (more than .01 a day) in each. Temperatures in January hover around the low 60s, and rise to the low 70s by March.