Hal Sutton’s splendid Hill Country creation at Boot Ranch is
a joy to play for so many reasons. The panoramic beauty, peaceful atmosphere, manicured
fairways and pure, lightning-fast greens are just some of the outstanding features
of the host club for the 111th Texas Amateur.
Another reason to celebrate Boot Ranch is the strategic
nature of the design. Anyone who has even played a few casual rounds there will
tell you that every hole can be successfully navigated in different ways. It’s
part of the reason Boot Ranch earned the No. 6 overall ranking in the Dallas
Morning News’ latest list of Top 100 Courses in Texas.
There is one stretch of holes, however, that will demand the
undivided attention of the players in the 111th Texas Amateur. Once players
make the turn back to the inward nine, holes 10-13 have the potential to quickly
derail a good round or provide the spark for a dramatic comeback.
“It’s such a great stretch of holes. You can make two or
three birdies, and you can also make two or three double bogeys,” said Alex
Rhyne, Boot Ranch’s Head Professional. “If
you can keep the ball in front of you, you’ll have a couple wedges into greens,
and you’ll be able to make a decent score. But if you get errant and the wind
gets up, which it normally does in August, then you’re likely to have some big
numbers on those holes.”
Let’s take a closer look at these four Key Holes at Boot
Ranch, a 7,155-yard, par-72 course that will play as a par 71 for the 111th
Hal Sutton calls the short, but tricky par-4 10th, “the Mona
Lisa of the golf course.” Off the elevated tee, the popular conservative play
is to take less than driver and stay to the left of Palo Alto Creek, which
dissects the fairway and green. A 3-wood or hybrid just short of the fairway
bunker is an excellent spot.
Depending on the wind, however, longer hitters can go
straight at the green – to the right of the creek – and carry all the trouble.
There is more turf available (about 40 yards) short-right of the green than appears
from the tee box, but it takes a carry of about 270 yards to clear all of the
The green is long and narrow, meaning players
have more depth available coming in from the right side. But that play also
increases the risk of finding the penalty area. It’s all about playing the
598 yards, par 5
This par 5 starts with one of the few uphill tee shots on
the course, but there’s plenty of width to the fairway. Although the hole doglegs
to the right, the smart play off the tee is straight down the fairway.
That leaves a layup angled to the right for the second shot.
With a 50-yard-wide creek bed just short of the green, trying to get home in
two shots is a risky play. The triangular green is tiered and tough to hold
with anything longer than a short iron. The 11th hole favors precise course
management over brute strength.
217 yards, par 3
A thrilling par 3 that demands both wisdom and execution.
The wind normally blows from left to right. Even if players can’t feel it on
the tee, it’s likely there. Experienced players will aim for the left half of
the green and let the wind and slope bring the ball back to the middle. There’s
a back-left greenside bunker that gobbles up shots that go long – a far better
resting place than bounding into the penalty area or long native grasses behind
470 yards, par 4
This long par 4 is straightaway, but better players will try
to maneuver the ball. The optimal shot pattern is a fade off the
tee (for right-handed players), and then a draw with an iron approach into the
Moving the ball from left to right off the tee and right to left
into the putting surface helps players take advantage of the natural movement
of the land. The green plays larger than it looks thanks to the slope, which
will take the ball to the green and away from the bunker on the right.
To learn more about the 111th Texas Amateur, click here.