Delivering a True Taste of Texas


DRIFTWOOD, TEXAS (outside Austin): Little did I know that when I entered the business back in the early 1990s, one of my first meetings would be with Mike Meldman, the visionary behind Discovery Land Company, the world’s largest developer of exclusive, private residential resort communities.

Over the course of the past three decades, Discovery Land Company has expanded to include dozens of golf residential communities (most with Tom Fazio designs) that span 10 time zones from the tranquil shores of Hawaii to Portugal’s sunny Blue Coast.

Mike is not your typical suit-and-tie kind of guy. Calm, relaxed, unconventional, and self-confident, his flip-flops dress code and “casual luxury” approach to his communities resonate with today’s luxury real estate buyer when many other private clubs grapple with allowing jeans in the clubhouse.

Unbelievable Is Achievable

Driftwood Golf and Ranch Club, about a 30-minute drive from downtown Austin, is one of the newest shining stars in Discovery Land Company’s portfolio. While its game plan follows a similar blueprint to other Discovery clubs (including its popular Outdoor Pursuits programming), its offering branches out with a first: a city club amenity located in the heart of Austin’s music scene.

“Our community is the first new golf club built in greater Austin in 20 years,” exclaimed Brent Buckman, vice president of golf experience at Driftwood Golf and Ranch Club. “We are located in the center of the Hill Country’s bullseye. Nearby Dripping Springs is one of the fastest growing towns in the country and Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in the America. You can be downtown or at the airport in less than 30 minutes, yet we are far enough away from the city lights that blight the night sky.”

Driftwood will be Discovery Land Company’s most highly amenitized community. “That’s really saying something,” smiled Buckman. “We have three distinct parcels: The Ranch, The Creek, and Driftwood Downtown. The Ranch will have a traditional country club feel next to our Tom Fazio-designed golf course. The Creek, connected to The Ranch but about a 12-minute cart ride away, will feature most of our non-golf amenities, and Driftwood Downtown is a private retreat to celebrate life and listen to live music along the famous 6th Street corridor in Austin.”

The rolling terrain surrounding Driftwood is peppered with a mix of mature trees, limestone outcroppings, and the omnipresent Onion Creek. “The closer you are to downtown, the more dramatic the topography. After all, this is the Hill Country,” grinned Buckman. “We are in a sweet spot where the geography is less jarring, reducing foundation construction costs and eliminating treacherous sidehill lies on the golf course.”

Death to Your Handicap

Driftwood’s different tee markers symbolize the colors of the Hill Country. As an example, the women’s tee marker is vinca colored, representing the hue of bluebonnets, the official state flower. “We haven’t forgotten our heritage,” said Tim Phelps, head golf professional. “Our back tees have a separate scorecard and the tee markers are in the shape of a skull and crossbones. The back of the scorecard carries a tongue-in-cheek message of: Warning—Under Texas Law, Driftwood Golf and Ranch Club is not liable for any injury to or death of a golfer choosing to challenge the game of golf from this set of tees—Proceed With Caution.

“Mr. Fazio utilized our massive live oaks to create depth, often not the easiest accomplishment in Texas. The front nine feels like you are on safari as you navigate narrow fairways with thick blankets of native grasses. The back nine is big and bold with wide corridors and ample water to catch an errant shot.

“There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the vastness of our golf facilities,” detailed Phelps. “It’s true, everything is bigger in Texas. Case in point? We have two on-course comfort stations stocked with complimentary goodies. One of the comfort stations is 2,000 square feet.

“Our two-sided thirteen-acre practice facility features a tee area with an acre of zoysia, ensuring even when the grass is dormant during the winter, you have pristine conditions,” said a pleased Phelps. “When you combine our ‘party zone’; a performance center; club repair; golf simulator; and a three-acre, free-form short game park; you’ll be hard pressed to name a community with a more complete offering.”

Frequency of Detailed Moves

Discovery Land Company investments aren’t always visible to the naked eye. “During construction, we installed $500,000 worth of electrical wiring underneath our bent grass greens to aid in cooling during peak summer days,” commented Eric Puls, director of agronomy. “Another example was erecting a deer fence encircling the entire golf course. This will allow my team to add colorful landscape property-wide that otherwise would be off limits.

“There’s one investment that hopefully you won’t encounter often,” teased Puls. “The course was sodded with Zeon Zoysia, a turf that is so adaptable it thrives in the summer heat and winter cold. More importantly, it grows robustly under the shade canopy of our stately oaks. So, should your golf ball find its way into the rough, your lie is likely to be consistent, providing a shot at recovery.”

For more information, please visit DiscoveryLandCo.com.