When considering a fall golf destination, a good rule of thumb is to look for destinations with the least amount of overseeding.
Central Texas over the years has mostly ditched the cool-weather rye grass and instead opted for year round bermuda. This is in part thanks to the proliferation of paint products and newer, cold-tolerant bermuda grasses. In fact, Horseshoe Bay's three resort courses now feature 007 Bentgrass greens.
Austin and San Antonio, whose downtowns are separated by about 80 miles on I-35, are both on the edge of the Texas Hill Country and sport higher elevation and superior scenery to Dallas and Houston. They also feature plenty of attractions from theme parks to natural swimming holes (toobing!) and Enchanted Rock. So this is where the bulk of the state's golf resorts will be found, as well as a nice number of destination-worthy semi-private courses and even some notable municipal golf for visitors. I particularly like a lot of the off-the-beaten-path Hill Country courses like Delaware Springs and Lighthouse Country Club.
I've lived in Austin for over 10 years now and I can't figure out the weather. In this time we've endured droughts and floods, summers where it doesn't rain and an August where it rained nonstop. Our November wedding was supposed to be outside and it snowed. The weather is great here until friends come to visit for the weekend.
This unpredictability means that I have utmost respect (and sympathy) for greens crews around here. The soil is rocky or clay-based - not ideal and when the rain comes for the month it can often times come all at once.
But there are plenty of chances for excellent outings. You can play golf here year-round as long as you are willing to tolerate 100-degree temps in July and August (you'll want to get a jump start on booking weekend morning tee times). There are few truly awful days to play golf in the winter. In fact, the dormant bermuda and cool breeze is preferable to the summertime sun if you're a walker.
I tell people who ask that October the best month for golf here due to the combination of conditions and cooler weather that makes walking fun again. But I decided to look at your review data to see if you back me up. I compiled a sampling of reviews from the top golf courses between Austin and San Antonio, including resorts like La Cantera, Wolfdancer at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines, TPC San Antonio, Omni Barton Creek and Hyatt Hill Country. I also threw in some top semi-private and destination courses like Falconhead, Star Ranch and Canyon Springs, plus a few popular munis like historic Brackenridge Park and Landa Park in New Braunfels.
Here is what your data tells us is the best time to play golf in Central Texas:
My first observation is that value and overall averages are more closely correlated each month than any other destination I've sampled. The largest spread between the two is just .08 out of a 5.0 scale. Compare that to the highly seasonal Phoenix-Scottsdale market, where conditions correlate with overall scores in the winter and then tanks, while value soars in the summertime.
It's a testament to Central Texas' general commitment to dynamic pricing. You won't find much in the form of seasonal green fees (a little more so with golf packages) in Texas - there is one rate for the year and it's adjusted on the fly based on demand.
- The worst time of year for golf is actually one of the most popular for tourism: March & April. This is also when the WGC-Dell Match Play, as well as the Valero Texas Open, have been held lately (both these courses overseed for the occasion - they are in the minority with this practice). My sense here is that Central Texas tee times demand is picking up (March has the second largest number of reviews, behind only June - a remarkable thing considering how much less daylight there is) as the weather gets more reliably warm, but the color and growth of the warm-weather turf grasses here (zoysia and bermuda) haven't caught up yet.
- Look a little more closely at the monthly review counts in parentheses: See how many reviews March-May have compared to Sept.-Nov.? I can only come to one conclusion: football. It is true, I've always had an easier time getting on courses in the fall than the spring - but it's also tougher to get your golf buddies off the couch.
I thought October would be the best month for golf, but based on your data, it's trails the more predictable and warmer August and September. Having played some local munis lately I can confirm they are in excellent shape. Be warned, a lot of courses give their greens some air with an aeration in early August, so by September they've had a nice month to breathe and heal.
So, for those considering an Austin trip in conjunction with a big event in town, you'll want to bring your clubs with you to ACL Fest or Formula One in the fall over SXSW or the the Match Play in the spring. The best thing you can hope for as a fall golfer in Texas is that the Cowboys and Longhorns are on a run and you'll have weekend fairways all to yourself.
Ready to book? GOLFPASS members, check out my 3- and 5-day Ultimate Itinerary to Austin.