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Courses We Love: Riverside Golf Course

Riverside Golf Course:

In its heyday back in the 1950s, Riverside was the best course in Austin.  Home to the legendary Harvey Penick, who resided just off the 5th tee, and designed by the great Perry Maxwell, Riverside was once the home of Austin Country Club.  Set on a beautiful piece of land amongst mature hardwoods, this is the course where Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite honed their games to become future major champions.  

Today the course has been modified from its original layout due to the development of Austin Community College, but the bones of what Perry Maxwell created are still there.  What we love about the course is the easy walk over the rolling terrain, the interesting routing with three par 3s on the front nine and 3 par 5s on the backside and the great use of the land to create interesting holes.  While the maintenance and investment in the course isn't what it was when it was Austin CC, the course provides an enjoyable round, especially late in the evening when the sun streaks through the trees and the shadows get longer.  

Original Routing of Austin CC

Playing to 6,300 yards and a par 72, the course won't beat you over the head with brute length, but the small elevated greens and bunkering will keep your interest.  There are some great holes on the course as it stands today, but here are a few of our favorites.

The 2nd hole is a scenic 313 yard par 4 down the hill to a shallow green fronted by a small creek.  The key is to avoid the tree off the tee, leaving you a short pitch into the green where birdie is a definite possibility.

The 8th hole is one of the strongest par 4s on the course and an original Perry Maxwell hole.  At 431 yards and a slight dogleg right to an elevated green set into the hillside, par here is a good score.  The tee shot is not as tight as it appears, but must be kept slightly left to avoid being blocked out by the trees on the right for your second shot.  However, by staying left, you'll have to contend with the big bunker guarding the front left of the green on your second shot to a shallow elevated green.

After back-to-back par 3s to start the back nine, the 12th begins back-to-back par 5s and a stretch of holes where birdies are possible.  The 12th is a slightly downhill 520 yard par 5 that is reachable in two, especially is you can hit a big drive and crest the top of the hill.  With a long iron approach in, eagle is a definite possibility if you can avoid the front two green side bunkers.

Photo Credit: Riverside Golf Course

The 13th is a more reachable par 5 at 488 yards from the back tee.  There is a small pond short that must be avoided.  The green is one of the best on the course and slopes hard left to right.  Birdie is a definite possibility here.

The 14th is another interesting hole where anything from eagle to double bogey is a possibility.  At 285 yards from the back tee, the green is reachable for many long hitters.  All of the trouble on this hole is left, so if you miss right, then you'll have a straight forward pitch to make birdie.  However, if you miss left then a large tree and bunker create a difficult up and down.

The 17th is another short par 4 at 337 yards from the back tees, playing downhill to a slightly raised green with 3 bunkers to be avoided.  Driving down the right side and avoiding the bunker short leaves a good angle into the green with a short iron or wedge, making birdie here a definite possibility.

Riverside is a charming, fun, walkable course with a great history and a great pedigree designer.  The rolling land makes for interesting shotmaking and a fun afternoon.  While not what it once was, it's a place that we love to imagine what it could be with a little investment to bring back some of the great Perry Maxwell original characteristics.

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