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Hancock course a part of golf history

Michael Barnes
mbarnes@statesman.com
Hancock Recreation Center and Golf Shop

In a historical essay, John W. Ramzy cuts to the chase: “Golf has been played longer at this location than anywhere else in Texas.”

That location is Hancock Golf Course, centerpiece for the Hancock, Hyde Park and Red River neighborhoods. According to Ramzy, Austin Mayor Lewis Hancock organized the country club and the course that bears his name after trips to Scotland.

The first location for the nine-hole course was directly on Groome Street, now known as Duval Street. Later it moved to undulating land on either side of Waller Creek. Winner of the first competitive tournament: Walter Bremond — of Bremond Block fame — in 1900 when it was a private club.

After 1901, a series of clubhouses were built, then damaged or destroyed by fire. Materials from the demolished Old Main building at the University of Texas were used to create the current clubhouse, which fire hit in 1963.

Among the women who played here: Julia Pease, daughter of Gov. Elisha Pease, and winning amateur golfer Hilda Urbantke. Among the men, President Lyndon Baines Johnson, U.S. Attorney General T.W. Gregory and U.S. Rep. Jake Pickle.

Gambler Titanic Thompson hustled players on the course. The most famous player, however, was former caddy Harvey Penick, who began his pro career here in 1923. He went on to become one of the nation’s most revered golfing gurus.

In 1913, the course was expanded to 18 holes through the purchase of the Ernst Farm, now the location of the Hancock Shopping Center, developed in the early 1960s. Texas Rangers removed and sledgehammered illegal slot machines from the clubhouse in the 1930s.

In 1946, Mayor Tom Miller led the fight to purchase the course for the city of Austin. The private Austin Country Club moved first to East Riverside Drive then out to Davenport Ranch.

Hancock Golf Course