Lone Star Style Combined With Five Star Service
By Matt Hudgins
Photography courtesy of Boot Ranch
The Texas Hill Country has long been a magnet to families in search of a quiet escape from the city, luring visitors to hike its winding canyons, wade bubbling creeks, or scale a rocky outcropping to witness the spectacular colors of sunset over oak-strewn hills and valleys. Yet until recently, there were few opportunities for a newcomer to enjoy Hill Country living without sacrificing the comforts, services and refined luxury that wealth affords in Texas’ larger metropolitan areas.
Boot Ranch fills that void with a unique combination of elegant ranch living, world-class golf and outdoor adventure. Just five miles north of historic Fredericksburg, the growing community offers a variety of avenues to property ownership as well as non-resident club memberships. Members gain access to fishing and canoeing on spring-fed lakes, trap and skeet shooting, tennis and sport courts, and a resort style four-pool swimming complex with designated adult and family pools. Clubhouse amenities include a golf shop, fine and casual dining, a spa and fitness center, and lavishly furnished men’s and women’s locker rooms complete with steam rooms and cocktail lounges. Two member lodges in the Clubhouse Village offer a total of 10 one-bedroom guest suites, each with its own fireplace, flat screen television, Jacuzzi tub, coffee bar, private balcony and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Launched in the spring of 2006, Boot Ranch was still in its early development stages when the 2007 recession slowed sales of its residential lots. Rather than mothball the master-planned community, the developer continued with construction of a 55,000-square-foot Clubhouse Village and other infrastructure. This year alone, the developer invested more than $1 million to replace all of the grounds keeping equipment with the latest John Deere vehicles and machinery.
Thanks to those investments to bring the full range of planned amenities on line and up to a world-class standard, lot sales are brisk and accelerating this year, according to Sean Gioffre, director of real estate sales and marketing at Boot Ranch. “We currently have six homes under construction and by this time next year, I expect we will have a minimum of 10 to 15 additional homes under construction,” he says.
Golf at Boot Ranch is nothing short of exceptional. Rated among the top 10 new golf communities in the nation by Golf Digest and selected by the Dallas Morning News as one of the three best courses in Texas, the links exhibit the finest work of designer and PGA legend Hal Sutton. The course complements the landscape that inspired its design; from the rushing waterfall that forms a backdrop to the 10th hole, to the distant ridgeline rising beyond the Clubhouse Village, the links embrace and blend with the rolling Hill Country. More than a recreational feature, the course also serves as an open-air classroom, thanks to a partnership between Boot Ranch and the Fredericksburg Independent School District. Young golfers learn nuances of the sport both on the links and in the 34-acre Practice Park that stretches just below the Clubhouse Village. The Practice Park provides multiple hitting areas where golfers can spread out and practice their full shots in all wind directions. There is also a short game range and an executive par three course. And in a commitment to reduce demand on the City of Fredericksburg’s water system, Boot Ranch irrigates its golf course and landscaping with clean, freshly treated water from the local wastewater treatment plant rather than relying exclusively on municipal drinking water to keep the Bent Grass greens green.
Boot Ranch spared no expense on its 55,000-square-foot clubhouse. Echoing the National Park Service Rustic style of architecture seen in many state and national park structures constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s, the clubhouse combines sturdy limestone walls and huge, rough-hewn cedar timbers arching overhead, accented by heavy wrought iron fixtures and niches built into the walls. On cool winter evenings, fires blaze in massive stone fireplaces throughout the clubhouse buildings and on patios and decks overlooking the lakes and golf course.
Though decidedly Texan and in harmony with the local Fredericksburg style of stone and timber construction, the clubhouse’s soaring ceilings, dark hardwood paneling, and rustic antler or wrought iron light fixtures conjure and air of European castles, an atmosphere reinforced by rustic leather-upholstered furniture and the trophies of wild game mounted to the walls. The castle sensation grows stronger for those visitors privileged to descend the narrow, spiral stone staircase to the wine cellar, dug into the hillside below the kitchens. The sommelier stocks award-winning vintages from many of the local vineyards, as well as fine wines selected from around the world.
Boot Ranch offers vertical memberships that extend club privileges to parents and grandparents, children and grandchildren, enabling extended families to share the full range of experiences that the community has to offer. Being able to provide opportunities for children and their families to enjoy a Boot Ranch getaway is important to members like Peter Wareing of Houston, a charter member of the golf club. “The family membership concept creates more of a family atmosphere, rather than a corporate type club,” said Wareing, who is a member of four golf clubs across the country. “Boot Ranch is developing more of a family DNA and a community DNA, more like a country club. It’s a great, welcoming place to be.” The Wareings own a farm outside Fredericksburg, so the family opted for a club membership without purchasing or building a home in Boot Ranch. Club members can also reserve rooms in the lodge for weekend stays at the ranch.
Residents can purchase club memberships at discounted rates, and Boot Ranch offers several housing options. The most affordable is to purchase a partial ownership in one of several enclaves, dubbed the Sunday Houses as a nod to the small homes that area settlers built in Fredericksburg for use on their visits to attend Sunday services in town. Each Sunday House is actually a five-building complex clustered around a central courtyard, with four individual bedroom suites and a freestanding great room with kitchen.
The newest homes at Boot Ranch are the Overlook Cabins, built in the Fredericksburg style and combining indoor and outdoor living. Designs are modular, so a buyer can chose elements such as bedrooms, office, great room, or indoor or outdoor kitchen to include in a cabin design. One recently completed cabin measures approximately 2,900 square feet.
The majority of Boot Ranch’s residential units are single-family homes built on estate lots. Plans are subject to approval by a design review committee, but a buyer may use their own architect and builder. The chief stipulation on design is to follow the Fredericksburg style. The custom homes in Boot Ranch range in size from 2,500 to as much as 15,000 square feet. Although Boot Ranch offers the seclusion of ranch style living in the county, it is near enough to Fredericksburg to offer municipal services including underground electricity connections, city water sewer, and natural gas, as well as good reception for mobile devices and residential high-speed Internet access.
Most of the homes at Boot Ranch overlook the golf course from scattered hilltops and ridges, harkening to the secluded ranch homes that dot the surrounding Texas Hill Country. Under utility agreements with the City of Fredericksburg, Boot Ranch is limited to approximately 400 water customers at full build-out of its 2,050 acres. To meet its financial goals from such a finite number of lot sales, the developer must sell home sites in the large bites that only estate lots of four or more acres can provide.
What that means for residents and golf club members is that Boot Ranch will never crowd conventional, suburban-sized home lots alongside its greens and fairways. The community is built around the beauty of the Hill Country, and is designed to preserve that natural setting for generations to come. “This will always be a high-end, low-density, private golf community,” Gioffre says. “It is truly a one-of-a-kind place for families.”