The Colorado River skirts the east flank of the Arthur Hills-designed course at Wolfdancer Golf Club and, indeed, stray shots down the right of the closing holes might just end up in the water.
The following edited extract is taken from Daniel Wexler’s The American Golf Resort Guide:
“Sitting along a quiet, wooded stretch of the Colorado River, Wolfdancer is a strong and engaging Arthur Hills layout that operates in association with an on-site Hyatt resort. Built over rolling, sometimes challenging terrain, there are a handful of predictable features here but they are easily outnumbered by interesting and often unique tests.
The front nine offers perhaps the property’s most memorable hole at the 603-yard 3rd (whose ridgetop location yields spectacular views) and follows it up with three widely varied tests; the 233-yard semi-blind 4th, the 337-yard ravine-fronted 7th and the 483-yard 8th, whose angled green is benched into a hillside.
The shorter inward half begins with a bang at the 345-yard dogleg left 11th (driveable, but across sand and a small creek) and the dramatic 155-yard 12th, which drops to a green teetering on a steep hillside. From here, play descends to a pair of riverside finishers, the 207-yard 17th and the 535-yard 18th, where a line of bunkers affects second-shot strategy.”
Wolfdancer is an interesting course about half an hour east of Austin. The first hole is welcoming. Ideal tee shot is just left of the gaggle of fairway bunkers right, and the green sits on a right to left ledge. The 2nd is a tough hole. It leans left and the best line is the right fairway bunker that is about 150 yards out from the green. You definitely want to be right of the tree on the left side of the fairway. Even a good tee shot will you leave with a challenging 2nd shot over the creek in front of the three-tiered green. The 3rd is a beast of a par five with a dozen or so bunkers. Off the tee aim at the left fairway bunker. For your second shot the bunkers left start at about 180 out and the one on the right 120. Choose wisely. This hole probably has the best panoramic views on the course. The 4th is the longest par three and is deservedly the number five handicap hole. The 5th is another long par five. Off the tee aim just inside the right fairway bunkers. The fairway runs out into about 250 yards out for about 70 yards. Favor the right side on your 2nd shot and consider an extra club to this elevated green. The 6th is a short par three, albeit uphill, with a water carry and stream left. The 7th is the shortest par four on the front, a good birdie oppty. Your drive should be left of the two trees in the fairway on the right side and you may consider laying up as the fairway runs out into a ravine about 70 yards out. The 8th is a long uphill dogleg left. If you are playing the correct tees the middle fairway pot bunker should not be an issue. However, left and right fairway bunkers hourglass the fairway starting about 175 yards out. Pars are earned. The 9th is also a dogleg left with a severely contoured fairway right to left. Favor the right side off the tee. While it is a long hole a decent drive will receive a favorable bounce and roll towards the green. The green is a table-top green with a bunker front center.
The back starts with a dogleg right. Right is trouble as you will be blocked out. Favor the left off the tee but be wary as the fairway narrows as you go into the dogleg. The 11th is a quasi-driveable par four. The hole bends left and you will need to carry a ravine and creek that cuts across the hole with a dozen bunkers paralleling it for additional drama. For those of you playing it safe, there are two fairway bunkers in the middle of the fairway about 90 and 60 yards out respectively. The 12th is the shortest and easiest rated hole. The tee shot is over a ravine to a green with a large bunker front right and one front left. The 13th is a long par four that leans right. The approach is uphill and there is a long fairway bunker right short of the green. The 14th is a par five that leans left. Off the tee the best line is just left of the right fairway bunkers. For your second shot favor the left as a water hazard sneaks in on the right about 100 yards out. The green is perched behind the water hazard with two deep bunkers front left. The 15th is a short par four and a good birdie oppty. Bomb your drive over the right fairway bunker. This is another table top green with two deep bunkers left. The long 16th is the number two handicap hole, favor the left off the tee and be mindful of the two bunkers front right. The 17th is a long par three. Raised green with one bunker short right and two left. The 18th is a fun finishing hole. River, woods and a long trench bunker right off the tee. A ridge with an assortment of bunkers creates two different approaches, right is high and left is low. The ridge commences about 160 yards out. The raised green has three bunkers right and one left.
Wolfdancer was a pleasant surprise and I would pay to play it again.
The story with Wolfdancer is quite simple -- half of the course is mainly forgettable and the other half goes full stride to deliver a quality presentation.
The opening nine is situated on fairly ordinary terrain that really isn't especially noteworthy. It's basic architecture -- nowhere near compelling.
The inward half is quite different and provides a top tier combination of holes. The varying lengths have clearly much more terrain movement providing for varied shotmaking challenges. I especially liked the short par-11 and the equally tantalizing short par-3 12th with its elusive elevated putting surface.
The combination of accuracy, finesse and appropriate power when called upon is all present on the back nine.
Wolfdancer would gain immeasurably with an updating of the outward side. The possibilities could very well propel the course to an even higher standing than what's present now.
M. James Ward