Bobby Weed, ASGCA of Bobby Weed Golf Design, along with Chris Monti, restored the historical landscape at Spanish Oaks Golf Club in Bee Cave, Texas, while successfully navigating an extensive approval process. Located within a 1,200 acre mixed-use development in an area just south of downtown Austin, the property is near the renowned Hill Country, a unique region that blends distinctive cultural, topographical, and vegetative character.
To prevent a repeat of previous poor land management decisions, new Hill Country projects must undergo a stringent regulatory review process. As a result, the Spanish Oaks team paid special attention to environmental issues such as endangered species habitats, site disturbance thresholds, floodplain encroachment, and wetland impacts. Under this environmentally proactive design, the architects carved out a core golf envelope and then resurrected the Hill Country grassland within it.
Weed felt comfortable taking a number of unprecedented steps with his design as well. He and his team executed a voluntary letter agreement with the City of Austin that exceeded the town’s environmental oversight and mandated the grassland restoration as a project objective. The team also agreed to voluntary restrictions with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that limited impervious cover and established significant riparian setbacks.
With each golf hole, limits of clearance were hand-flagged, and most of the cedar trees were felled by hand to avoid mechanical damage. The team also re-established the appropriate mix of Hill Country tree species and plated over 125 acres with native topsoils excavated from on-site fields in the lower portions of the site. Weed then installed a complex irrigation system to provide detailed control to the native areas using multiple head types. Since planting, the team has observed the reemergence of three Hill Country grasses that were not included in the repurposed blends, each a testament to the success of the crew’s restorative efforts.
By using the project’s resources in an innovative way, the Spanish Oaks design team was able to build consensus and navigate a difficult approval process with a “white hat” reputation, thus returning a slice of Texas’ legendary landscape to its intended ecology while constructing a memorable and sustainable golf course community.
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