Austin Country Club was founded November 14, 1899 by Lewis Hancock, a man of more than ordinary vision. In those days country clubs and golf were practically unknown and it is believed that the Austin Golf Club (later to be renamed the Austin Country Club) was the first of its kind organized in Texas.
Hancock, a lifetime Austin resident, was one of the city’s most distinguished and respected citizens. A cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, he served as the Mayor of Austin in 1886 at the age of 40. He was also the second President of Austin’s oldest bank and founded the Hancock Opera House.
Hancock was convinced that in order to keep fit; the businessman needed relaxation and exercise, as well as sunshine and fresh air – all of which the game of golf provided. So, being a man of superior forcefulness with a talent for the art of persuasion, Lewis Hancock set about to raise a rather considerable sum of money to buy the land and make the necessary improvements to start the Austin Golf Club.
The initial membership list contained most of the early pioneer families of Austin and read like "Who’s Who" in Texas. The first clubhouse consisted of a small two-room, frame house with a porch across the entire front; the course was nine holes, and, as was the custom in early days, was constructed with sand greens. Mr. Hancock became the President of the Club and held that position for 17 years. During his tenure he was the sole authority on the rules of golf and all procedures of the social end of the Club. To his position he lent a dignity and created an atmosphere that made it a real privilege to be listed as a member.
In 1924, Francis Ouimet, who had famously won the U.S. Open in 1913 as a 20-year-old amateur, visited Austin and played the course with Harvey Penick on the bag. In 1927, Walter Hagen toured the course and matched the course record of 68. Hagen went on to win his fifth and final PGA Championship in Dallas later that fall. In 1939, on the occasion of the club’s 40th anniversary, a match was played involving Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Jimmy Demaret, and Harvey Penick. The team of Hogan and Nelson beat Demaret and Penick by a single shot.
In 1949, needing more space, the Club moved to Riverside Drive in east Austin and commissioned Perry Maxwell, whose designs include Southern Hills in Tulsa and Crystal Downs in Michigan, to design a new course. This would be the course where Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw would spend so many hours under the watchful eye of Harvey Penick. The Club remained at the Riverside Drive location until 1984, at which time the decision was made to move to the current Davenport Ranch location in the hills of west Austin.
Over 100 years after its founding, Austin Country Club remains a premier, tradition-rich private country club. The Club now consists of an 18-hole Pete Dye design golf course, 10 lighted tennis courts (two clay and eight hard surface), heated swimming pool, fitness facility, 42 boat slips and a large clubhouse. The clubhouse includes the Terrace and Harvey’s Restaurants, Ballroom and Meeting Rooms, the Harvey Penick and Helen Penick Rooms, as well as Men’s and Ladies’ Locker Rooms.