Posts Tagged ‘Hancock’

Donnie’s Friday Focus: Morris Williams front-nine

The elevation changes at Morris Williams make for some scenic vantage points throughout your round.


Morris Williams is arguably the most challenging public course in Austin. It’s also the longest at 6,637 yds. from the blue tees. The rolling terrain creates nice elevation changes throughout a layout that features small, undulated greens that are slightly elevated.

If you’re used to playing shorter courses like Hancock, don’t be intimidated by Morris Williams’ length. I’m not a big knocker either, and I’ll tell you where to position your ball to have an extremely successful round.

#1 Tee

#1: par 4 373 yds.
The first drive is always nerve-racking, but you have tons of bail-out room on the right. Whatever you do, don’t pull your drive left.

#1 Green

You’ll be behind the trees and have an impossible, blind shot into the green. The green is two-tiered, slopes from back to front and is guarded by a front, right bunker. Place your ball on the tier that features that day’s pin placement to give yourself a flat putt.

#2 Tee

#2: par 5 540 yds.
Longest hole on the golf course. Try to get distance off the tee, but be aware of the trees and water hazard on the right.

#2 Green

I would aim right along the cart path, because the hole straightens out on your second shot. The green slopes from back to front and is guarded by sand on the left and water on the right. If you’re uncomfortable with your approach, leave it short to give yourself an uphill put to the pin.

#3 Tee

#3: par 3 187 yds.
One of the more scenic holes, #3 is 187 yds. long, but it’s downhill to a wide open green with no bunkers. Don’t be intimidated by the water.

#3 Green

The green is there for the taking. Grab a mid-to-long iron and hit a solid shot. Once you get there, the green slopes back to front and left to right. Any shot where you have to clear water might look scary, but this is a really easy hole once you clear it.

#4 Tee

#4: par 4 380 yds.
Duplicate your tee-swing from the first hole. There’s tons of room right and lots of trouble left. Keep the same mindset as you approach the green.

#4 Green

A miss right is better than a miss left or long. If you go left, you’ll be in tall weed-grass that’s impossible to get out of (trust me). If you go long, your ball will run off a green that slopes from front to back and down the hill into the woods.

#5 Tee

#5: par 5 519 yds.
This drive is pretty wide open. There is a street on the left, but you’d have to hit a really long, severe slice to reach the fence. Aim for the gas stations in the distance and try to stay on the left-hand side of the fairway to set up your second shot.

#5 Green

There’s no bunkers to keep you from attempting to reach the green in two on this par five. However, the street still poses out-of-bounds danger on the left and if you miss-judge your distance and go long, your ball will roll all the way down the hill. When you’re down there facing a blind shot back into the small green, you might wish you had laid up.

#6 Tee

#6: par 4 356 yds.
This tee box is where course experience comes in because you can’t see the fairway from the tee. The hole does dogleg left, but it’s better to miss further right than left because of the trees. My advice is to aim for the cart path and if you push it right, it’s ok. You’ll have an open alley to the green.

#6 Green

The green itself is one of the more difficult ones on the course. Walk around and size your putt up from every angle because some of the breaks are misleading. The back portion of the green is fairly flat, but the front breaks toward the middle of the surface and the front-right breaks off the green.

#7 Tee

#7: par 4 412 yds.
Another wide open fairway off the tee, but the street is on your left if you pull it terribly. The fairway slopes from left to right and the more right you are, the more blind your uphill approach will be.

#7 Green

The perfect drive is right along the inside right of the cart path. If you are faced with a blind approach from the right side, aim for the cluster of trees on the left and hit a high fade. The green is not guarded by any bunkers, and one of the more flatter surfaces on the course. It is especially easy to putt if you’re on the front putting uphill.

#8 Tee

#8: par 3 174 yds.
At 174 yds., this green is closer than it looks from the tee. Two bunkers guard the front of the surface and the the green slopes off to the left and off the back into the woods.

#8 Green

The only open area around the green is to the right. The green is flat, so you can stick your ball pretty much anywhere on the surface. If you miss, miss long and right.

#9 Tee

#9: par 4 393 yds.
There are some obviously thick trees on your left, so leaving your club-face open on this drive to avoid going left is not a bad thing, there’s plenty of room right. Your approach will be slightly uphill to a two two-tiered green with one bunker on the front-right.

#9 Green

The angled green slopes from the back-right to front-left. Depending on pin position, it’s easier to put from the left side of the green up-hill, then the right side putting down-hill and right to left.

Next Friday: back-nine at Morris Williams G.C.

Photos by: Donnie Hogan

Donnie’s Friday Focus: Hancock G.C.

The classic, risk-reward finishing hole at the oldest golf course in Texas.

Municipal golf courses are great, cheap ways to hone your skills. Austin has a plethora of links to choose from, but playing a course for the first time can be a frustrating experience if you don’t know the lay of the land.

Consider me your pocket caddie. Each Friday, I will highlight Austin’s public courses in nine-hole segments complete with pictures, yardages and descriptions on how to maneuver your way to a successful round. First up: Hancock G.C.

Built in 1899, Hancock is the oldest golf course in the state of Texas and was the original site of the Austin Country Club. Currently, Hancock is a nine-hole public course that is challenging despite its short yardage (only 2633 yds. from the blues). Greens fees are cheap if you walk (only $12 during the week, $13 on the weekend), but remember to bring cash because they do not accept debit or credit cards. I found this out the hard way.

(editors note: I play from the blue tees, so all of my yardages will reflect starting from that position.)

#1 Tee

#1: par 3 152 yds.
Considering Hancock does not have a driving range, #1 is a nice, easy starting hole because it’s a 150 yd., downhill shot to a decent sized green with no bunkers. Going into a round cold is always difficult, but it’s easier to start with a short iron in your hand rather than a driver.

#1 Green

The small creek that runs in front of the green doesn’t really come into play because of the tee’s elevation. The green is fairly undulated and slopes from back to front and right to left. Depending on the pin position, the ideal spot would be on the front of the green putting uphill rather than above the pin putting down.

#2 Tee

#2: par 5 462 yds.
This is the only par 5 on the course, so get a birdie while you can. Keep your drive on the right-hand side of the fairway. Then you’ll be faced with a decision to go over the creek or lay-up. The hole is short, only 462 yds., but it doglegs left, uphill to the green.

#2 Green

If you’re comfortable with your long irons or fairway woods, give it a rip. The green is fairly small, but flat with no bunkers. If you decide to go for it in two, you don’t have much danger around the green to make you question your decision.

#3 Tee

#3: par 4 357 yds.
Number three is a good driving hole. By now you should be warmed up, again due to Hancock’s lack of a driving range. The trees make the drive look intimidating, but there’s a lot of room once you get past them.

#3 Green

Gear back for a hanging power-fade, pick a starting point and let it rip. The narrow green slopes from back to front and if you pull your approach left, you’ll end up out-of-bounds in the street. You want to be on the front of the green, putting uphill. If you’re going to miss, miss short and right.

#4 Tee

#4: par 3 144 yds.
Number four is another easy, mid-range par 3.

#4 Green

The street still poses an out-of-bounds threat on your left, so a miss to the right is your bail-out if things go wrong from the tee. The green is relatively easy and flat with a slight break from right to left. This is the easiest hole on the golf course, take advantage.

#5 Tee

#5: par 4 249 yds.
Similar to #3, this is another tee that is not as scary as it looks. The creek and and trees are not in play as long as you don’t duff your drive.

#5 Green

If you keep it relatively straight, you’ll be near the top of the hill even if you didn’t pound the ball. I recommend hanging a high draw over the two right trees and aim to land the ball right along the cart path. The green slopes from back to front and is guarded by trouble all along the left side. If you miss hit your approach, bailout short and right.

#6 Tee

#6: par 4 324 yds.
This is the first of a two blind tee shots on the course, because you can’t really see where your ball is going to land in the fairway.

#6 Green

However, there’s plenty of room left and right of the fairway with scattered trees, but nothing too thick you can’t get out of. The hole is only 324 yds., so give the ball a ride off the tee. The green is skinny and turtlebacked, meaning it’s high-point is in the middle and the ball rolls off all sides. Make sure you don’t miss left or long on your approach or your ball will roll all the way down the hill and you’ll be faced with a very difficult pitch back up to the green.

#7 Tee

#7: par 4 335 yds.
There’s trouble on the right off the tee, but you have a lot of room left. It’s a short hole, so try to get as much as you can off the tee, but don’t push the ball right.

#7 Green

Be careful with your approach to this green. The green itself is elevated, so if you miss left, right or long, you’re most likely to be out-of-bounds. Hit a clean shot, but take a little off of your approach if you’re uncomfortable with your distance.

#8 Tee

#8: par 4 346 yds.
Another blind tee shot, but you have a lot of room left. Due to the large tree on your right, you have to work the ball from left to right anyway. Hang a high fade out there, if it fades back to the right, great.

#8 Green

If not, you’ll still be at a good angle into the green. This is the only green on the course with bunkers. Even if you get stuck in one, the two-tiered green funnels to the middle on the front-tier. Don’t go over the ridge or you’ll roll all the way to the back of the green.

#9 Tee

#9: par 4 264 yds.
This is my favorite hole on the course. This is a classic risk-reward hole. It’s only 264 yds., but the fairway slopes harshly from right to left where a hater hazard guards the green.

#9 Green

Once you get there, the green follows the contours of the hole and slopes toward the water. You want to be below the pin putting uphill, but to achieve this, you have to flirt with the water on your approach. This is a great finishing hole.

Next Friday: font-nine at Morris Williams G.C.

Photos by: Donnie Hogan