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Hill Country (Golf) Heaven

Broken Spoke A classic honky-tonk since 1964, the Broken Spoke bills itself as "the last of the true Texas dance halls," where the likes of Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, George Strait and Jimmie Dale Gilmore have kept the wood-plank floor hopping with the two-step well into the night. The club—featured many times on the PBS show Austin City Limits—books country bands five nights a week, from Tuesday through Saturday, and serves a mean chicken-fried steak.
3201 South Lamar Avenue, Austin; 512-442-6189, www.brokenspokeaustintx.com.

Continental Club This indomitable, über-retro bar opened in 1957 on South Congress Avenue and has rattled windows ever since. Over the years, its acts have included musicians ranging from Glenn Miller and Joe Ely to Stevie Ray Vaughan and baritone-belting Junior Brown, famous for playing his trademark "guit-steel," a double-necked hybrid of a traditional six-string and a lap-steel guitar.
1315 South Congress Avenue, Austin; 512-441-0202, www.continentalclub.com.

Threadgill's For nostalgia, trek over to the South Austin location of Threadgill's, a descendant of the country-music bar founded in 1933 by bootlegger Kenneth Threadgill in a filling station at the northern edge of town. It traces its ancestry to the Armadillo World Headquarters, a breeding ground of alt-country. On Sundays, the club features gospel music and some of the best southern comfort food around.
301 West Riverside Drive, Austin; 512-472-9304, www.threadgills.com.


Getting There

The Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), ten miles southeast of downtown, is served by eleven carriers and offers nonstop flights to and from most major U.S. cities. If you're staying at Barton Creek Resort & Spa or Hyatt Regency Lost Pines, you can take a free ground shuttle from the airport. Getting to the heart of the city is also a snap, provided you avoid Interstate 35, where traffic can be as thick as room-temperature queso. The better north-south artery to use is Mopac Expressway (also known as Loop 1). The courses at Barton Creek and Horseshoe Bay are located west of town, as are the better private clubs, so find a map and get familiar with Texas Highway 71, which leads into the Hill Country.


Central Texas is blessed with three hundred days of sunshine a year. Come July, August and September, the blazing sun isn't exactly a friend of the golfer, as temperatures routinely rise into the nineties. But spectacular springs, glorious autumns and moderate winters—the average daily high in Austin doesn't dip below sixty degrees—more than make up for the sweltering summers.

Private Gems

Thanks to a concentration of wealth, good available land and a year-round golf season, Austin has an abundance of great private courses. By northern standards, most of the finer clubs are fairly new. Tree-lined Onion Creek Club (1974), routed by Jimmy Demaret, hosted the first Legends of Golf tournament, the forerunner of the Champions Tour. Hills Country Club (1981), a shotmaker's paradise, is a Jack Nicklaus design on Hurst Creek that annually holds a senior tour event. Cimarron Hills Golf & Country Club (2003) is a sensational Nicklaus layout with bent-grass greens on old ranchland in the northern suburb of Georgetown. West of Austin in Bee Cave, Bobby Weed brought a minimalist sensibility to the windswept Spanish Oaks Golf Club (2001), home of PGA Tour pros Rich Beem and Joe Ogilvie. Finally, the modern Pete Dye incarnation of Austin Country Club (1984), where Harvey Penick tutored Crenshaw and Kite, dips onto the tranquil shores of Lake Austin on the front nine. The club dedicates a room to the homespun teacher, with wonderful memorabilia on display; public visits can be arranged by appointment (512-328-0090).


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