UT Golf Club's Clubhouse Rises from the Ashes

Last December - on the day after Christmas - the under-construction clubhouse for the University of Texas Golf Club burned to the ground. The fire, accidentally started on the roof by workers, set the structure (about 70 percent complete) ablaze. The building was a complete loss, but no one was injured and quick work by a host of local firefighters kept the blaze contained to the construction site.

On the last weekend in October, just 10 months after the fire, a new 16,400-square foot clubhouse - built at a cost of more than $8 million - enjoyed a lavish, if delayed, opening. Finally, the UT Golf Club has a structure worthy of its 7,412-yard, par-71 championship-caliber course.

Around 1,500 guests mingled in and around the new clubhouse while feasting on prime cuisine and taking in the sounds of local band Duck Soup. Steve Termeer, UTGC's general manager and director of golf, said that the club's membership knew they would regroup, battle back and build the clubhouse better than ever.

"(Texas football) coach (Mack) Brown probably had the most inspiring words of all as he phoned just before the team took the field in the 2007 Holiday Bowl," Termeer said. "He instructed me as the club's leader to remain strong, stay positive and show resiliency. He went on to say that true leadership takes place when the most challenging situations arise. We built the clubhouse back two months quicker than the first time around."

The University of Texas Golf Club at Steiner Ranch was designed by Roy Bechtol and Randy Russell and opened for play in 2003. It was later renovated in 2007, when changes were made to virtually every hole and the course was stretched to a whopping 7,412 yards from a new seventh set of tees.

Built in the Texas Hill Country about 15 miles west of the University of Texas campus, the UT Golf Club overlooks Lake Austin and borders the Balcones Natural Wildlife Preserve.

Bechtol has long been part of the University of Texas family - he played baseball for the Longhorns and his father Hub was the school's only consensus four-time football All-America as a receiver in the late 1940s. "Being a part of making this club a reality and watching as the course and now the clubhouse was being built has been something I will always cherish," he said. "Seeing the clubhouse now in its finished splendor and knowing how hard it was to start over again after the fire gives me a great sense of pride for all the emotions we all went through."

The clubhouse at the UTGC features a full-service dining room as well as private dining areas, men's and women's locker rooms and lounges, a 1,400-square-foot golf shop and outdoor patios overlooking the course's water feature and its 18th hole. The club's former clubhouse is in the process of being converted to fitness center.

"This new clubhouse is a true monument to UT and the partners of the club," Termeer added. "It is just so gratifying to be involved with a club that does what it says it is going to do, one that shoots for the moon and stars when it comes to rolling out the 'burnt orange' carpet treatment to our members and guests."

The course hosted the 2007 NCAA Women's Central Regional Golf Championships and the track will conduct an NCAA men's regional in the spring of 2009. Club officials are also in hot pursuit of hosting the 2012 NCAA Championships on the course.