AUSTIN, Texas — Maybe except for that one Californian on Business Insider, everyone is raving about and moving to Austin, Texas.
It's been christened as the new venture capital hotbed in the world and startups and big tech companies and celebs are flocking here. The always-quotable Elon Musk said Austin will be the biggest boomtown America has seen in 50 years.
And yet while the past decade has seen a meteoric rise in the amount of residents and businesses huge and small coming to the Texas capital metro area, there haven't been any brand new, luxury high-end golf developments. Perhaps it's because those elite new area clubs like Spanish Oaks and Escondido that opened at the exact wrong time in the cycle, just before the 2008 real estate meltdown, took awhile to find their footing.
Fast forward to the present, where club life is booming across America and certainly Texas. For many clubs, signing new members isn't the big problem anymore, it's finding room on the tee sheet for them. Discovery Land Company announced in 2018 that they were developing Driftwood, a brand new golf course and residential community on 800 acres southwest of Austin. And as of 2021, the timing just seems to be getting better and better. The local market is hotter than a habanero pepper, and lots at Driftwood start at $3 million (homes $5 million).
Set to open in fall of this year, the golf course at Driftwood is the latest design by Tom Fazio. Fazio has amassed a doozy of a collection of private or resort-private golf courses in the Hill Country between San Antonio and Austin, including two courses at Omni Barton Creek (Foothills and Canyons), Briggs Ranch and Escondido Golf & Lake Club. All told, this is his 13th project in a state making up for a lack of comparatively historic clubs with some country-glam modern properties.
To get to the Driftwood property from Austin, you'll hang a left right before you arrive at the famous Salt Lick BBQ. Pass the gates and head gently up the hill to the main club area and you've got unspoilt Texas Hill Country views. Texas forever.
Fazio's team has routed an 18-hole course playing as long as 7,662 yards (and as short as 4,960) through the gently sloping Hill Country property that will feature 310 homesites. It will be pleasantly walkable and marketing materials promote walking caddies. Nos. 1 thru 14 are very natural looking with long vistas and holes framed through old live oaks. It isn't until the 15th hole, where the first of two larger water hazards make their presence felt. Water is in play the rest of the way until you play the long, par-4 18th hole that doglegs right up to the core clubhouse area.
As popular as Fazio is in this area, as well as Discovery Land's go-to-architect, he promises Driftwood will stand alone amongst his global portfolio.
"If you've been around as long as I have," said Fazio. "You don't want to do anything the same. You want to be creative, distinctive, unique. Our brand is 'never the same.' There's endless possibilities for golf design, and that's the fun part."
As of this March, 11 holes have been grassed in while the remainder are currently being sandcapped or their shaping finalized under the eye of Fazio and his onsite team members, Bob Kelly and Blake Bickford, who have taken a parcel of Hill Country property full of live oak trees, creeks and rock outcroppings and fashioned their trademark touches into transforming native turf into a world-class golf experience. Director of Agronomy Eric Puls is overseeing a 105-acre course cut through the dry terrain sodded with Zeon Zoysia on tees, fairways and approaches. The 007 bentgrass has been boldly chosen as the turf for greens (made possible by the elevation of the property at more than 1,000 feet).
In addition to the 18-hole course, Driftwood will feature a 13-acre driving range and a 3.5-acre practice park with three greens for short game practice. Off-course amenities include an activity barn and sporting field, fish camp pavilion, pool and lazy river, spa, organic farm and vineyard. Guests can stay in cabins or villas.
Located a solid half hour's drive from downtown, one of the unique elements of this Discovery Land property is a downtown Austin club location that members can utilize. It features three bars, a golf simulator and rooftop deck on Colorado St. in the heart of the action. ClubCorp members have a comparable urban hideaway at Darrel K. Royal Stadium on the University of Texas campus.
Discovery Land Co. has an international network of clubs and are well-known in the luxury real estate marketplace for their exceptional, though generally relaxed service and amenities. Driftwood is their second property in Texas after the Vaquero Club in Dallas-Fort Worth. When built out, Driftwood's total package will rival top Hill Country club golf community neighbors like Escondido and Boot Ranch, but offer a location far closer to the urban core.