Austin set to host the world’s best golfers
photo by Weston Carls
As if the public at large needed another reason to ogle at the beauty of Austin, the world’s best golfers are coming to town. They’ll compete for the Dell Match Play Championship at Austin Country Club.
The exclusive World Golf Championships event finds a fitting home on the historic track that winds along the banks of Lake Austin, hugging up to the Pennybacker Bridge, just west of downtown. Imagine the camera’s splendor of sweeping images. Glistening springtime water, emerald fairways and greens sparkling under sunset rays only Texas knows.
“The views should be unbelievable,” said Jordan Uppleger, the on-site tournament director for the PGA Tour. “This course and layout provide a very intimate setting for spectators to watch and enjoy these players go head-to-head.”
Play begins on Wednesday, March 23, and concludes Sunday, March 27.
Want tickets? Hit Craigslist. Grounds passes sold out within 30 days. Lists for volunteer are full. Yes, the community of Austin is ready for some golf.
There’s been a flirtation with professional golf for years. The now-defunct Nike Tour, which graduated top players to full PGA membership, hosted the Austin Open from 1997-98 in Lakeway, and Onion Creek, on the city’s south side, nurtured today’s Champions Tour into existence in the early 1990s. This month, however, primes the competition to a new level.
Rory McIllroy enters as the defending champion, and world No. 1—Austin’s adopted son—Jordan Spieth returns to the community where he blossomed. Spieth and the Texas Men’s Golf team captured the program’s third NCAA team championship in 2012. Spieth, a Dallas native, was a freshman on that team, and turned professional the next year. Spieth captured two major championship victories at The Masters and U.S. Open during his sophomore season as a touring pro.
Spieth and the rest of the field, comprised primarily of players ranked in the Official World Golf Rankings, lead spectators and television audiences through some of golf’s most storied, and yet mostly unseen, grounds. Austin Country Club was founded in 1899 by Lewis Hancock; the club is believed to be the first of its kind organized in Texas, a state that previously had no understanding of or relationship with the ball-and-club sport dreamed up an ocean away, on Scottish soil.
Austin Country Club, now in its third location along Lake Austin, served as the instructional home for Harvey Penick, one of the game’s master teachers. Penick mentored local ambassadors Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite from promising junior stars to national champions at the nearby University of Texas. Both went on to claim major victories on the PGA Tour, and paved the professional path for fellow Longhorn major winners Mark Brooks, Justin Leonard and now Spieth.
Austin Country Club is the sixth course for the Match Play Championship since the WGC series began in 1999. The tournament has appeared at multiple spots in California and Arizona before traveling to Texas for its home for at least the foreseeable future. Dell, the PGA and Austin Country Club are executing the first in a four-year agreement.
Timing is also an additional element to this year’s event. The Dell Match Play is one week after the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Florida’s Bay Hill, which annually attracts a top field, and two weeks before The Masters, the season’s first major, which opens play on April 7.
Augusta National invites the top 50 in the world a full week before the Masters, setting up the Dell Match Play as the final opportunity to improve or secure their position for a coveted Masters invitation.
“It’s the perfect package,” said Kevin Robbins, a noted golf writer whose Penick biography, The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf, debuts in April. “You have all these iconic Austin symbols, and nobody has ever seen this course. It should feel very exclusive to be there.”
World Golf Championships
Dell Match Play
Wednesday, March 23 –Sunday, March 27
Austin Country Club
Winning Share: $1,612,432
FedExCup Points: 550
Follow on Twitter and Instagram @WGC_Match Play
NEED TO KNOW
Don’t Text and Golf Clap
Mobile devices are permissible on course all week—in silent mode—and can only be used in designated "safe cell phone usage areas.”
No video permitted at any time. No photographs permitted after Tuesday. Violations will result in confiscation of your mobile device or removal from the grounds.
Park and Ride
Austin Country Club is snuggled away in a quiet, private residential area, and does not feature public parking space. Ticketed spectators are encouraged to park at the Toney Burger Activity Center and Stadium. Free shuttles will transport patrons to and from the tournament site throughout the day.
In addition, patrons using ride companies such as Uber or Lyft can take advantage of drop-off and pick-up locations near the course’s pass gates.
Active and reserve military members can claim free vouchers for daily grounds passes at the Dell Match Play. For information on how to redeem your tickets, Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (512) 949-5885.
GOLF FOR GOOD
Dell and the World Golf Championships partnered with Austin-based charities Austin Parks Foundation, Boys & Girls Club of the Austin Area, The First Tee of Greater Austin, Helping Hand Home for Children and Keep Austin Beautiful.
The organizations are the beneficiaries from the tournament’s net proceeds, which will be divided evenly among the five charities.
Dell is dedicated to using charitable proceeds from the tournament to encourage health, wellness, resiliency and academic achievement that will have a measurable impact on today’s youths.