David McLay-Kidd Designing his First Course in Texas
Areté Collective, a vertically integrated development company, is partnering with the celebrated Scottish architect of David McLay-Kidd (DMK Golf Designs) to bring his first course to Texas, with Loraloma – a private Hill Country community within the 2,200-acre Thomas Ranch masterplan debuting outside of Austin.
Loraloma, whose name translates as “lore of the hills,” pioneering a new way of living focused on respecting the land’s natural beauty, which aligns with McLay-Kidd’s low-impact, sustainable approach to golf course design. The McLay-Kidd course will break ground later this month and is scheduled to be completed in late 2024 for select play, with a full opening by spring 2025.
Known best for his award-winning courses at Bandon Dunes and the Castle Course at St. Andrews, McLay-Kidd’s approach at Loraloma is to work with – rather than against – the land’s natural terrain. The course will take advantage of the Hill Country’s striking setting and embrace the landscape’s natural contours without signs of contrived solutions. Following in step with Areté Collective and its plans for Loraloma, the course will be a practice in restraint that utilizes the framework naturally set forth.
“The Loraloma landscape is vastly more visually inspiring than most of what exists in the Austin area today,” said McLay-Kidd. “Our goal is to open up this compelling landscape to golfers for a world-class experience. I will tread very lightly to preserve and protect this land so that it can be enjoyed and embraced for generations to come.”
Anchored by this new course, Loraloma combines ecologically-inspired residences with premium amenities, including fitness, wellness, culinary arts, equestrian, and nature-based experiences. These offerings and other envisioned features establish the community as the most amenitized master-planned development in Texas and one of the most in the United States.
“Loraloma’s environmentally conscious approach is something that really drew us to the partnership with Areté Collective and an ideology we plan to replicate on the course we are creating for residents,” said McLay-Kidd. “Our company was built on the idea of incorporating active and passive recreation into our course designs. The principles that Loraloma and Areté Collective have harnessed, such as having a minimal number of homes on the course itself, will only enhance the type of game and social interaction we aim to offer.”
The par-72 golf course is slated to play 7,060 yards from the back tees, covering 120 acres, and fit seamlessly into the community. Its wide variety of strategically placed holes ranges from shot-making par-4s to risk-reward par-3s. The closing hole on the course, a par-5, will play 570 from the tips.
The greens will be grassed with Creeping Bentgrass, allowing the Zoysia fairways to showcase the native flora, including the iconic Texas bluebonnets and other wildflowers and native plants. Striking visuals support each hole, with nearly half of the holes playing along the cliffside of the Pedernales River and others sitting atop peaks, delivering dramatic elevation changes with unobstructed vantage points overlooking the Hill Country and Balcones Escarpment.
“Areté Collective is thrilled to partner with such an accomplished architect to bring this course to life, and we hope that every member and resident who plays golf at Loraloma feels McLay-Kidd’s sense of exploration and adventure while exploring this vibrant landscape,” said Tom Hogan, co-founder and CFO of Areté Collective and former CFO of Augusta National. “The rules of golf require the player to play the ball as it lies, and the beauty of the Loraloma course is the fact that he has designed a sustainable course around the existing lay of the land.”
The course at Loraloma will feature a golf house with a dedicated pro shop, player’s lounge, and restaurant and bar to be enjoyed pre- and post-play. It will also house two comfort stations with informal seating, restrooms, “grab and go” dining options, and one full restaurant.
For those who call Loraloma home, two other distinct club experiences are available, including the cliffside clubhouse and the riverfront amenities. The cliffside clubhouse will offer several pools, a spa, wellness and fitness center, tennis and pickleball courts, elevated restaurants, and a kid’s club encouraging intentional play. Located along the water’s edge, the riverfront amenities will celebrate Loraloma’s position with a boardwalk park, floating docs, cabanas, and water-based activities. From private hunting and fishing tours to trail rides, water sports, and more, residents will be supported by a specialized outdoor adventures team that caters to families year-round.
Beyond the golf course and river’s edge activations, another epicenter for life at Loraloma will be Limestone Gulch, a coveted location between shaded parks and curated amenities. Limestone Gulch will revolve around quintessential Hill Country living with swimming holes and fishing ponds, a communal farm, a recreation barn, an outdoor amphitheater, a dance hall, and a tap house.
Additional community plans include a dynamic pre-existing equestrian center and a 40-plus acre resort site, with sweeping, panoramic, 360-degree views of the Hill Country and Lake Travis to house a forthcoming five-star boutique hotel.
The homes at Loraloma are designed to incorporate their natural surroundings, much like the course from McLay-Kidd. Since its inception, the team at Areté Collective has set out to conceptualize and construct communities that emphasize the preservation of – and integration with – open spaces while detailing beautiful design within the built environment. This concept of “Ecological Modernism,” an Areté coined term, is an idea showcased throughout Loraloma and the golf course. Proving its commitment to preservation and placemaking, Loraloma has safeguarded more than 50 percent of its community for open space, ensuring protected views for each homesite.
The residences at Loraloma range from two- to five-bedroom turnkey cottages, villas and estates, and a selection of custom homesites. Homes will be situated with protected views of the rolling Hill Country, with more than 40 miles of winding trails and bike paths throughout Thomas Ranch, aimed to immerse residents in a wellness-oriented, nature-based lifestyle.
Photo and Artwork Courtesy of Areté Collective