The designer of the Palmer Lakeside course at Barton Creek Resort requires no introduction. The King fashioned the layout in Texas Hill Country where the signature par three 11th features a cascading waterfall.
The Palmer Course is roughly 40 minutes to get to from the main resort and the feeling is often more of an orphan than a property that is on the same page with the other golf options at Barton Creek.
The land has a good bit of movement but the architectural details are simply subordinate to the terrain and fail to elicit much emotion when playing.
Much is made of the waterfall behind the green at the par-3 11th. The inclusion is simply an eye-candy addition and has no real bearing on one's playing.
There are a few holes of note and several of them take advantage of a barranca that cuts off in a perpendicular fashion. The par-4 5th and 7th holes use this well and it requires an accurate tee shot to be in position for the approach.
The issue with much of the course is that the greens are simply pedestrian with little real internal or external movements that would up the ante in terms of one's positioning of the ball. Fairway bunkers, for the most part, are simply ornamental in nature. The uphill 9th hole is a good hole and requires a keen appreciation on what club to use to reach the elevated putting surface.
The inward half is a bit better in terms of the challenges but the design continues with features that are not smartly used.
Palmer Lakeside has not been part of the recent renovation work done at Barton Creek and for the layout to spur people to leave the other three courses, which are based right at the resort, the architecture needs to be enhanced. That's not to mean adding more difficulty per se, but weaving design attributes that truly identify quality shotmaking. Sad to say, but so many of the Palmer courses I have played throughout the globe have been mainly formulaic cookie cutter productions. The Palmer Lakeside provides no clear reason why going there is needed when at Barton Creek.
M. James Ward