Surviving the Deluge - Waterford Texas on Schedule

By: Steve Habel

It has been almost a month since the Texas Hill Country was pelted by as much as 19 inches of rain in just a four-hour period June 27. But the area is still affected by the huge amount of water that poured into the famed Highland Lakes.

Thanks to its superior design and pertinent planning by the development's management team, the almost-ready-for-play golf course at Waterford Texas (located about 15 minutes from the epicenter of the huge storms in Smithwick) has come through the potential disaster with flying colors.

The track, designed by Austin, Texas-based golf architect Roy Bechtol in collaboration with Randy Russell, received only minor damage and flooding and its front nine should still be ready for limited play in late October or early November, just a few weeks later than originally planned.

The deluge - being called "the 500-Year Flood" by many in the area - drove area lakes far above their full levels. The June rains, added to an abnormally wet spring and summer in the region, sent lake levels to their highest mark in a decade. Waterford Texas has received a mind-boggling 50 inches of rain in 2007.

Two of Waterford's holes (Nos. 11 and 18) are right next to the far-north shore of Lake Travis, a huge body of water that has risen from 643 feet above sea level six months ago to almost 703 feet as rainwater and runoff poured into the lake.

The fairways of both holes - designed at 698 feet - were overrun with water as high as 3 feet in some portions. The majority of that water has dissipated and left minimal damage to the fairways. The greens on these holes are at 705 feet and were not affected.

The two holes are separated by a cove into the development's marina and clubhouse village. That cove is spanned by a cart/footbridge whose bottom is normally 20 feet above the level of the lake. Three weeks ago the bridge was almost completely underwater. But in mid-July, thanks to the opening of at least six gates on Mansfield Dam on the extreme south side of Lake Travis, the waters had subsided to covering just the entrances to the bridge. The water level has fallen below the bridge line this week, but more rain in the area has slowed the drop.

"We have really seen the lake come up to historic levels, and I think we have come through it all very well," said Waterford's general manager, Jimmy Terry. "Those holes were built with a flood-type situation in mind, but the fact that the lake has come up so far so fast has brought the lake more into play than one could have truly imagined when the course was in its planning stages."

In addition to the golf course and club, the development will include a European-style club village, a private spa, a marina, tennis, an airpark with an approximately 4,500-foot landing strip, a hike and bike trail system, an equestrian center and a family sports center. For more details about the development, visit    

Steve Habel is an Austin, Texas-based journalist. Since 1990, he has traveled around the globe covering news, business and sports assignments for various news bureaus, newspapers, magazines and websites. He also contributes to Business District magazine in Austin as managing editor and is the Texas football beat writer and a contributing editor for Horns Illustrated, the Austin-based magazine for University of Texas sports. Habel writes a weekly golf column for The River Cities Tribune in Marble Falls, Texas, and is a member of the Texas Golf Writers' Association.