POINT VENTURE, TX - The history of Point Venture Golf Course is much like the terrain on which the course is built; it's littered with ups and downs.
This 2,815-yard, nine-hole course, which is located approximately 25 miles northwest of Austin, opened in 1972 on a positive note like any new course, with great enthusiasm from those involved with the course and the surrounding community. Those behind the venture, known as Point Venture, knew the course had something to offer in addition to quality golf.
Today, as it did back then, Point Venture provides a quality golf experience as well as some of the most breathtaking views of the Texas Hill Country and Lake Travis, one of the most popular lakes in Central Texas.
The view on No. 7, the 358-yard, par-4 signature hole is second to none and Is, without a doubt ,one of the prettiest holes in the state. Off the elevated tee box you hit to a fairway almost 100 feet below that doglegs to the left and features Lake Travis as the backdrop. This amazing vista makes up for any bad score you might incur on this hole.
While the lake offers beautiful scenery, it can also create treachery on the greens. The old putting theory that states "the ball breaks toward the water" is commonly used by golfers on courses throughout the world. If a pond, lake or creek is nearby, the ball generally breaks toward that hazard.
At Point Venture, that theory is put to the test on the Tif 328 greens. With the course located on a peninsula on Lake Travis, and water on three sides of the course, the putts don't break as much or even in the direction that they might appear to move. In other words, putt with caution. Add into the mix, numerous undulations on the greens and the flat stick can be your curse or your savior.
Reading the greens is just one area where course knowledge is essential at Point Venture. The other is shot placement off the tee and in the fairways. With trees lining many of the fairways, precise placement of your tee shot can allow you to lower your score.
No. 2 is a perfect example of this. This par 4 of 355 yards is a dogleg-left that bends almost 90 degrees, approximately 200 yards out from the tee box. Trees line the fairway on both sides and a large slope runs along the fairway to the left. Anything too long or right and you are in the trees.
If you are too short or to the left off the tee, you are either a) behind the trees and cannot go at the green, or b) in the trees and on a slope with a difficult, if not impossible lie. The key is not only landing in the fairway and avoiding the trees, but placing your tee shot far enough down the fairway for an open shot to the green that is located down the hill.
"The yardage is deceiving on holes like number two and you have to put it in certain places to score," said Director of Golf Dennis Allen.
While golfers today worry about how to play certain shots at Point Venture, it wasn't too long ago - in the mid 90s - that golfers didn't worry about playing Point Venture at all. The course had fallen on hard times. The fairways were not well kept and were littered with leaves from the trees. The greens weren't much better. Overall, the course wasn't in good shape and a far cry from its early days.
Unfortunately, this wasn't the first time. In 1974, just two years after Point Venture opened, a recession hit the economy and took the course down with it. Fortunately, the tough times were short-lived.
Within a couple of years, Mitchell Energy, a group of businessmen out of Houston, who also owned The Woodlands, breathed new life into Point Venture. For the next eight years, the course thrived and was popular among Austin golfers.
Then, in 1982, Point Venture took another downturn. The struggle lasted for more than 15 years until late 1997 and in to 1998. It was during that time that two events changed the direction of the course. The first occurred in December 1997 when the Point Venture Property Owners Association (PVPOA) took full control of the course.
With the course under PVPOA control, new cart paths were installed and restrooms and a maintenance barn were constructed. Although those items were considerable improvements, the single most important enhancement came when Dennis Allen was hired as the Director of Golf in July of 1998.
Allen had served as the manager/pro/director for many years at various Courses, including a 13-year stint at the Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Golf Club in Fredericksburg. His experience and knowledge were just what Point Venture needed.
Since Allen's hiring, Point Venture has steadily improved. Those who know the course and its history are the first to sing his praises. "Mr. Allen is responsible for the changes and improvements to this course," said Mic Wertz, a Point Venture resident and regular golfer.
Today, under Allen's guidance and the work of Superintendent Mark Beall, Point Venture is one of the better-maintained courses in the Austin area.
Whether it's the fairways that are allowed to grow a little higher than the average fairway to prevent burning during the summer months or the friendly service in the club house, Point Venture is a transformed course. As a result, the community, which continues to grow at an increasing rate, has taken more of an interest in the course. "Community spirit has formed again around the course," said Point Venture Mayor Terry Hickman, who has lived on the course since it first opened.
Hickman, who has personally seen all the ups and downs, said the course has really been a sort of "cause and effect." He said after the PVPOA took control of the course, the residents felt compelled to get more involved and improve what was, by most accounts, a poor golf course.
As a result, the course improved and now is one of the main reasons people are drawn to this area and Point Venture in particular. The "new and improved" course is also a reason this writer/golfer will return in the future.
422 Venture Blvd.
Point Venture, TX 78645
Phone: (512) 267-2768
Green Fees: $18 with cart weekdays; $25 weekends and holidays.
Head Professional: Dennis Allen
Amenities: Putting green and driving range.
Directions: From Austin: Take Highway 183 or I-35 to Highway 1431 (Chandler Road, exit 256). Travel west on 1431 through Cedar Park and Jonestown then on to Lago Vista. This is approximately 22 miles. Turn left on to Lohmans Ford Road. On Lohmans Ford Road, DO NOT TURN RIGHT at approximately three miles where you see the first "Golf Course" signs. Take Lohmans Ford Road until it runs into the Point Venture community on the right and follow the signs.
Practice Fac.: B
Club House/Pro Shop: B
Pace of Play: A
Overall Rating: A