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Texas coaches long had talked about building a short-game mecca at their facilities in Austin, and wonder boy Jordan Spieth stepped up to help make it a reality.
The Spieth Lower 40 is six-hole, par-3 course built on 4 1/2 acres between the member’s range and the first hole at the University of Texas Golf Club. Roy Bechtol, who designed the par-71 championship course at UT, also put pen to paper for the short course with input from a variety of folks, including Spieth. The three-time major champion spent three semesters competing as a Longhorn and was part of the 2012 NCAA Championship-winning team. His design contributions to the project included everything from the placement of the green complexes to elevations and contours.
Most of the people that have gone down and seen it are over-the-top excited about it, Fields said. I know that Jordan has been enamored with it.
Holes range from 80 to 125 yards, Fields said. Greens sizes range from 2,800 to 4,000 square feet, and the course has four types of grasses. The greens are challenging, Fields noted, but reward a good shot. Spieth had played on short courses where it was nearly impossible to hold the greens in certain winds and wanted to make sure that didn’t happen with the new facility.
As for the name The Spieth Lower 40, the term Forty Acres is used colloquially to refer to the Texas campus as whole. It also happens that 40 years passed between national championships for the men’s golf team: 1972 to 2012.
UT Golf Club was built on Steiner Ranch, and Fields said the short course sits lower than most of the property.
If you were to pull up to a ranch house and say you were looking for the rancher, they might say ‘They’re down on the lower 40,’ Fields said.
To pay further homage to the 2012 NCAA victory at Riviera Country Club, the sixth hole has a bunker in the middle of the green. Then-sophomore Toni Hakula aced the par-3 sixth hole at Riviera with a 7-iron in the second round of stroke play. Fields said that perfect shot was part of the catalyst to their success in Pacific Palisades.
We feel like we paid homage by putting a bunker in the middle of the green there, Fields said, to make sure that people get the story and the historic value of Texas golf.
A soft opening was scheduled this month and a proper celebration when Spieth comes back to town during a break in his fall schedule.
(Note: This story appeared in the September 2017 issue of Golfweek.)
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