By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
GM at University of Texas Golf Club
The University of Texas Golf Club marks a milestone this year – it’s 20th anniversary but not without a major fire, an economic downturn, another major fire and the pandemic.
The UT Golf Club has hosted numerous large events over the past two decades while accommodating local families.
This November, the club will celebrate with a tournament, fireworks and entertainment.
General manager Steve Termeer played golf for UT from 1988 through 1991 while he was earning a degree in finance.
“UT golf never had a home. We played at half a dozen golf courses,” Termeer said. “A typical day, you’d keep your clubs in the trunk. If you got to a club at 1 p.m., you might get on to play at 3 p.m.”
Termeer and his son, Tayler who is currently a member of the UT golf team, are the first father/son duo to play at UT and both won Texas state high school championships 25 years apart.
Finding a home for UT Golf was a catalyst for starting the club.
Mike A. Myers was instrumental in getting UT Golf a home course, which would take more than 200 acres.
“Mike A. Myers looked for a place in the hill country. He wanted a hill country experience where Texas exes could congregate,” Termeer said.
They found the site in Steiner Ranch under the leadership of the developer at the time Taylor Woodrow.
Termeer was recruited to run the new UT club. Out of college he achieved his class “A” status with the PGA and became head golf pro and manager at Barton Creek and then in 1996 when he was 28 he became general manager at Austin Country Club.
The UT Golf Club was formed and by November 2003, golf was being played at the new site. A pavilion, golf shop and cafe were soon built.
In December 2006, construction began on the premier club house at the Steiner site. But on December 26, 2007 – just days before opening – tragedy struck.
“I was on Mansfield Dam when I got the call. ‘We got a problem,’” Termeer was told.
A roofer was flash welding with a little torch and the winds were blowing 30 miles an hour. Fire soon engulfed the new club house.
“We didn’t have the fire suppression activated, that was to happen 10 days later,” Termeer said. “We were 60 days from opening.”
Everyone from the chairman of the board to partners to football head coach Mac Brown, who was coaching the Holiday Bowl at the time, stepped up to help the club during the devastating fire.
“The $5,000 builder risk policy funded a $5M loss,” Termeer said. “We regrouped and rebuilt and opened within 10 months.”
The fire didn’t affect operations and the golf course remained open.
There was a wedding booked and unfortunately a phone call had to be made to share the bad news.
The club sailed through 2008’s economic and real estate downturn. Termeer said that had very little effect on the club.
Then three years later on Labor Day weekend in September 2011, wildfires destroyed 23 homes in Steiner Ranch. The popular UT Golf Club’s tailgate party, which usually hosts 300, turned into a quick fundraiser for those who lost their homes and $37,500 was raised.
The club also served firefighters breakfast, lunch and dinner while they worked for days putting out fires.
Termeer shared that golf courses are one of the safest places to be during the devastation. Although it didn’t happen in 2011, evacuation parking could hold 3,000 cars on the driving range.
The club has added facilities through the years. The UT golf academy was constructed in 2005. The club house was rebuilt by the end of 2008. Tennis and swimming were added in 2012. Pickleball was introduced in 2019. The Spieth lower 40 was added in 2017 and Hannon Academy in 2019.
Demographics of the club have changed over the 20 years.
“Original forecasted demographics were 58-years-old, empty nest, yet reality was 43-years-old with three kids,” Termeer said.
“Membership probably aged a little but not much, still the
average age is mid 40s,” he shared. The club currently has 750 members under 16.
Today – with 475 local golf members, along with tennis, social and regional categories – the club has over 1,100 total member billings. Currently there’s a waitlist to be a golf member at the UT Golf Club, he added.
Twenty years ago memberships started at $20,000 and today they are $100,000. But it’s still less expensive than some clubs like Spanish Oaks which costs $200,000 for membership.
It’s an interesting time in golf in general, Termeer said.
In the past 20 years, more than 1 million people have moved to the Austin area but there haven’t been any new golf courses built.
“There is a 20-25% growth in golf since COVID,” Termeer said. It was a good sport during COVID because it is outdoors and people naturally social distance.
Once the pandemic started shutting things down, “from that moment to now, golf has been at an all time high.”
People could get outside and walk the course and they were not in confined quarters.
“Rounds of golf went up 20 percent immediately,” said Termeer, who is married to Tara, who is the buyer for the UT Club, which has been recognized in Golf World as a top 100 Golf Shop in 2005, 2006 and 2010. The couple also have a daughter Sydney.
In 2027, UT Golf will celebrate its 100th anniversary.
“We’ll probably host a pretty big event for that monumental event,” he shared.