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Driftwood Golf and Ranch Club close to completion

Tim Schmitt
Golfweek
The 17th hole at the new Driftwood Golf and Ranch Club needed a $1 million investment, but the result is a stunning hole that members are eager to get at. The club's back nine is expected to open this summer.

The members are out and playing the front, but the anticipation for what should be a stunning back nine at the new Driftwood Golf and Ranch Club — the latest in a string of high-profile Tom Fazio designs — is palpable, even for those who are at the course each day.

“The back nine has a lot of drama. Some water, some really scenic holes,” said Casey Paulson, the president of sales and operations for the new club, which is seeing day-to-day changes. “And every day the people who are around here are dying to get a crack at it.”

The 800-acre property has 320 home lots with an asking price of $3 million per lot — you still need to put a house on that lot — and has attracted some high-end buyers including Jordan Spieth and Fred Funk.

There’s plenty about the course to love — sweeping Hill Country views, gorgeous centuries-old oak trees and a practice area redesigned after receiving input from Spieth — but the final few holes will truly put the exclamation mark on this Discover Land-run property.

More:City of Austin's Roy Kizer golf course temporarily closing for greens project

And the story goes that the 17th hole, a par 3 over a long water hazard, was fairly approachable in the original sketches, with only a little water coming into play. Organizers met with Fazio and explained that to create something special, an investment of about $1 million would be needed to create a larger lake leading up to the putting surface.

Fazio, who is responsible for Barton Creek Resort’s Canyon and Foothills layouts as well as Escondido in Horseshoe Bay, helped sign off on the decision to upgrade, and now the second-to-last hole might be one that has players constantly pondering what club to hit, especially if the winds pick up.

One of the interesting aspects of the property is a separate plan that allows for a golf-centric lifestyle near the course and another that’s more focused on family-friendly amenities like a massive pool on the other side. The two pieces are connected by a short cart path that allows residents to shuttle under the road through a tunnel.

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“It really gives us two different kinds of buyers. So even though we are on this parcel, which is where the golf course is, that really caters to someone who's very into golf, who really enjoys it,” Paulson said. “And maybe someone who doesn't necessarily want to be around resort or family type of amenities, well they can still do that in a 10-minute golf cart ride. In a way, I feel like we sort of have two clubs here. 

“You've got a traditional type of golf club and then you've got a really fun family-centered country club, literally all connected by a 10-minute cart ride.”

Jordan Spieth wins at RBC, despite ‘brain fart’

Jordan Spieth and caddie Michael Greller have teamed up for another PGA Tour victory despite a “brain fart” on a short missed putt.

The duo has been working together for a decade now. Greller has been on the bag for all 13 of Spieth’s PGA Tour wins, including their most recent title at the 2022 RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Spieth shot a final-round 66 and then needed a playoff to fend off Patrick Cantlay. But perhaps Spieth could’ve avoided extra golf if he could have managed to sink a short putt on the 18th hole at the end of his third round.

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“Yeah, I mentioned it to Michael and to Annie (Spieth's wife) afterwards. I said I knew, riding into the clubhouse to sign my card, I said I knew that that on 18 was going to cost me and I hoped it did in a way because, if it didn’t, it meant I just played a very average round. So I hoped I worked my way into contention in spite,” he said Sunday after his win.

“I was about as upset after the round (Saturday) as I’ve ever been in a golf tournament. There’s just no excuse for those kind of brain farts for a professional to myself,” he said. “But also to Michael, who’s working his butt off, to go out there and do that that could potentially affect the outcome of a tournament. And I’ve done that a number of times on this stretch in the last four weeks.”

John Daly II signs NIL deal with Hooters

The college NIL wars continue, and the insanity continues to ramp up. John Daly II has played exactly one team tournament for the University of Arkansas and posted just a single round under par during that event, but that didn’t stop the freshman from signing a name, image, likeness deal with Hooters, an agreement that was announced Tuesday. 

The son of two-time major champ John Daly played in one tournament last fall for the Razorbacks, posting scores of 83-68-78 at the Blessings Collegiate Invitational in October. He also played in an individual event.

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The Dalys combined in December to win the PNC Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, using a 36-hole total of 27-under 117 to beat Tiger and Charlie Woods. In the process, the tandem broke the previous tournament scoring record set by Davis Love III/Dru Love in 2018 by one stroke, and earned Team Daly the red-leather Willie Park winner’s belts.

The freshman from Clearwater has seen little time in the Arkansas lineup as stars Mateo Fernández de Oliveira and Luke Long have led the way. The Razorbacks won the SEC Match Play Championship in the fall at Shoal Creek, and currently sit at No. 11 in the Golfweek/Sagarin collegiate team rankings. Texas, meanwhile, sits at No. 6 in the rankings.

The senior Daly said via Twitter that he was happy to continue the family relationship with the brand.

“Can’t express how excited I am to be back with my @Hooters family & having my son beside me on the next generation!” he said.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Notes

• An impressive showing by local players led the way at the Texas Golf Association’s at Jimmy Demaret Junior Classic in Leander. Austin’s Sterling Hurd fired a 1-under 71 to win the Boys 15-18 Division, totaling an even-par 144 for the two rounds. Sydney Givens of Vandegrift won the Girls 12-18 Division by two shots with a two-day total of 4-over par. Jack Clancy of Dallas made a birdie on the first playoff hole to capture the win in the Boys 14 & Under Division. 

• Registration for the Firecracker qualifying tournaments opens April 25th. Info can be found at www.golfatx.org.

• Roy Kizer is now officially closed. Last week’s column said a recent project at Jimmy Clay was for a similar green resurfacing project as the one Kizer is now undergoing, but Clay was technically an irrigation project.

Tim Schmitt is the managing editor for Golfweek, golf coordinator for the USA Today Network and lives in Round Rock.