New-look Mor­ris Wil­liams is near­ing com­ple­tion

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - HOLES-IN-ONE David Hamp­ton, Jer­ryjohn­son, Deb mc­gowan, Pat Pat­ter­son, Jamie reynolds, Perry sauls, cody­tarver, Lesterthomp­son, Sub­mit holes-in-one via fax at 445-3868 or email at sports­desk@states­man.com. Holes-in-one must be submitted by the ap­pro­pri­ate

The

most talked about golf course in town is one that has not been open since last Fe­bru­ary. An­tic­i­pa­tion is run­ning high for the re-open­ing of Mor­ris Wil­liams, which is in the fi­nal stages of a ma­jor makeover and should be open for play in late Jan­uary.

Since it opened in 1964, Mor­ris Wil­liams has been one of the most pop­u­lar and most-played pub­lic cour­ses in Cen­tral Texas. It has been the site of numer­ous ama­teur, high school and col­lege tour­na­ments. For many years, it was the home course of the Texas Longhorns when Ge­orge Han­non was both the Longhorns’ head coach and the head pro at Mor­ris Wil­liams.

In re­cent years, though, it be­came ap­par­ent that the course needed some ma­jor changes. There was no way to keep it open and ac­com­plish the work in lit­tle pieces, so it was shut down in or­der to con­struct a new pro shop and make sub­stan­tial on­course ren­o­va­tions.

Ask any­body who has had a look at the new Mor­ris Wil­liams and you will get a smile fol­lowed by some fa­vor-

6-iron, 160-yard 11th hole at Barton Creek Cren­shaw; wit­nesses: Rusty Word, Steve Perry, Dale Guthrie

7-wood, 165-yard 6th hole at The Hills; wit­nesses: Ben Walthall, Tom Wiles, Bob Rivet

8-iron, 118-yard 14th hole at The Hills; wit­nesses: Bee DeCor­dova, Maria Baker, Nancy McMichael

7-iron, 153-yard 17th hole at Berry Creek; wit­nesses: Dick Wood, Jan Dou­glass, Danny Miegs

125-yard 6th hole at Onion Creek (orig­i­nal); wit­nesses: Jimmy Craig, Barry Hutchin­son, Cliff Miller

9-iron, 15th hole at Lions Mu­nic­i­pal; wit­nesses: Bill W. Green, Rus­sell Re­gal­ado, Tony D. Roberts Sr., Don­ald Hunter

8-iron, 156-yard 7th hole at Lake­way; wit­nesses: Ja­son Wal­ters, Daw­son Schauch

gap wedge, 116-yard 15th hole at Roy Kizer; wit­nesses: Bart An­tle, Will Lay­ton, Corey Brown, Gerry Diaz able com­ments. Kevin Gomil­lion, di­rec­tor of golf for the City of Austin, re­cently gave me a tour. I am bi­ased about MoWil­lie since it was the first course I played in Austin, but I liked what I saw.

With­out too much te­dious de­tail, here’s the skinny on the new Mor­ris Wil­liams:

■ The big­gest change you will no­tice is the greens. Most have been en­larged and/or re­shaped. The slopes on many greens have been lev­eled to some de­gree, but there is still plenty of con­tour. My thought was that you had bet­ter hit your ap­proach shot to the right spot. As Gomil- lion noted: “The av­er­age golfer is go­ing to hit more greens in reg­u­la­tion, but will have more three­p­utts.”

■ The turf has changed to 419 Ber­muda on the tee boxes and fair­ways and Tifd­warf Ber­muda on the greens. The 419 Ber­muda is known for its pleas­ing tex­ture, drought tol­er­ance and abil­ity to hold up to traf­fic. The Tifd­warf has been pop­u­lar on greens for sev­eral years. It is known for a sure, fast roll but also for hold­ing up to a lot of play.

■ Most of the tee boxes have been en­larged to al­low for a va­ri­ety of hole dis­tances.

■ The over­all length of the course is up from 6,700 to 7,000 yards when mea­sured from the back tees.

■ Numer­ous bunkers have been moved and/or re­shaped. The new Cossi White sand pro­vides a pleas­ing con­trast with the green fair­ways and putting sur­faces.

■ Sev­eral holes have been re­shaped. The most no­table are prob­a­bly the par-4 10th and par-4 13th. The green on No. 10 has been shifted sev­eral yards to the right to move it away from the new power sta­tion just off Manor Road. The short, quirky 13th has seen a dra­matic change. The trees and brush at the top of the hill to the left of the fair­way has been cleared. Golfers now can opt to play to the top of that hill, leav­ing a wedge or short iron over the pond in front of the green, or play the hole as be­fore down the right side of the fair­way.

■ Mounds have been con­structed along­side and just off many fair­ways to keep balls from scoot­ing out of bounds. Gomil­lion noted that the goal is to keep balls in play to main­tain a rapid pace of play and to make a round more en­joy­able for the mid-to-high hand­i­cap­per.

Gomil­lion is anx­ious to see how the new Mor­ris Wil­liams will be re­ceived, but he’s pleased with what he sees.

“The goal was to im­prove the over­all con­di­tion of the course,” he said. “We wanted to make it eas­ier and more playable for the mid-to-high hand­i­cap­pers be­cause they are the ones who make up most of the play here. We want them to have an en­joy­able round on a qual­ity course and want to come back. You don’t want to see them get beat up on a too-dif­fi­cult course.”

That said, past tour­na­ment re­sults show that Mor­ris Wil­liams has al­ways been a stern, hon­est test for the best play­ers in the area. That should not change. Stretched out to 7,000 yards and with the flex­i­bil­ity for testy pin place­ments, Mor­ris Wil­liams should of­fer a le­git­i­mate chal­lenge for top play­ers.

It feels like an old friend is coming back.

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