WELCOME TO TEXAS, THE PERFECT GOLF PLAYGROUND. From El Paso to Texarkana, Amarillo to Brownsville, Texas is a kaleidoscope of golf experiences you won’t find anywhere else. Here there are more than 800 courses, from small-town 9-holers to awesome public munis and world-class resorts and country clubs. Texas is a mecca of golf, a place that spawned Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Babe Zaharias, Harvey Penick, Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, and countless other legends. What follows is a small sampling of courses that will not only ease the planning of your next golf adventure, but also help you embrace the soul of golf in the Lone Star State.
Trinity Forest Golf Club, Dallas
Designed and built in honor of the great old courses of the Northeast and Great Britain, the brand new Trinity Forest, opened in 2016, is destined to become known as one of Texas’s all-time great courses. The Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw layout is breathtaking, making the most of the nuances of the natural landscape, with an open, rolling terrain blanketed in native grasses and sprinkled with tactfully placed waste areas.
Nestled along the shores of Lake Lewisville, Old American takes you back to the “golden age” of golf architecture in a tribute to classic American golf courses. With perfect conditions, outstanding scenery, and a design that demands strategy and creativity, the golf experience here is truly special.
Starr Hollow Golf Club, Tolar
This famous 9-hole course, sometimes referred to as “Little Augusta,” sits in the middle of a 3,000-acre ranch bought in 1965 by Colonial Country Club founder Marvin Leonard, who built the course primarily for his friends and area ranchers. While its rural setting is the epitome of casual, the course is pristine and the clubhouse exudes an old-school charm with walls covered by photos of Ben Hogan and historic club events.
Woodforest Golf Club at Fish Creek, Montgomery
Woodforest makes the most of its spectacular Lake Conroe setting with a 27-hole classic carved through the tall pines and majestic oaks. Meandering Fish Creek adds character and beauty.
Perhaps one day the greatness that is Crown Colony will finally be recognized as Texas’s finest golf course. The course is certainly worthy, offering immaculate conditions paired with demanding target golf. Water is in play throughout, the pine-lined fairways feature numerous elevation changes, and the greens are always in perfect condition.
Way Out West
The diversity of Texas golf is unparalleled, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the western fringes of the state, a place where you can experience ”off-the-beaten path” at its fi nest in the form of some of the most remote golf courses in the world—all of them sprinkled about the fringes of the Panhandle Plains and the Chihuahuan Desert, not to mention Big Bend National Park, the Rio Grande River, or even the Glass, Davis, and Guadalupe Mountains.
Fly into El Paso and play the Tom Fazio-designed Butterfield Trail Golf Course. You can also easily fly to Midland, home to the 36-hole, longtime local favorite Hogan Park Golf Course, as well as Midland Country Club, relatively unknown but one of the state’s best.
Then head out and take in the open roads, invigorating air, and long, dramatic sunsets that are the essence of the Big Bend region. Make a point to hit the 9-hole Iraan Golf Club for a morning round and Fort Stockton’s Desert Pines Golf Course in the afternoon. Then enjoy a sunset drive to the Gage Hotel in Marathon, a great spot to hole up for a few days while enjoying the wild, 9-hole mountain town courses scattered across the open plains.
Scenic and absolutely remote, the towns of Alpine, Marfa, and Van Horn sit on high-desert plateaus at near mile-high elevations, with mountain vistas in every direction. The courses in these towns each take only about an hour to play and serve up entertaining, quality greens at the highest elevations in the state.
Deep in the boot heel of Texas, near Big Bend National Park and the curious towns of Terlingua and Study Butte, you’ll find the truly unbelievable Black Jack’s Crossing at Lajitas Golf Resort, one of the most extraordinary golf locations in the world. A day of golf here, among the buttes and mesas of the Chisos Mountains along the Rio Grande, is an unforgettable, bucket-list experience.
Up in the northwestern corner of Texas, the rugged sprawl of the Panhandle is acclaimed for some of the most unique links experiences in the world. Fly into Lubbock early, play the outstanding Tom Doak-designed Rawls Course at Texas Tech, and grab some barbecue to-go on the way out of town. Then head out into the cotton and oil country to the east, wave at a cowboy in a mud-splattered pickup, and wander into the hamlet of Floydada. The fabulously fun course at Floydada Country Club is located in historic Blanco Canyon, featuring elevation changes of as much as 150 feet and greens as good as any in Texas.
Keep on driving and you’ll experience empty roads, friendly people, wide-open Texas skies, and more than 70 remote, small-town courses, scattered among the Caprock ranchlands and cotton fields. Every stop has an enjoyable 9-hole golf course, and the towns of Haskell, Stamford, Anson, Hamlin, Rotan, Jayton, and Aspermont are all known for taking pride in their local courses. Continue south and eventually you’ll run into lovely little Eden on the edge of the oak-covered Hill Country, popular with traveling golfers for its lush Concho Springs Golf Course.
If you’re looking for the ultimate golf vacation—the sort that boasts not only outstanding golf but also first-class accommodations, beautiful scenery, gold-standard service, and the chance to rejuvenate your soul—the Lone Star State knows no boundaries. Few places in the world offer such a wide range of superior golf resorts.
With three championship golf courses by Robert Trent Jones Sr., and a reputation as the “Pinehurst of the Hill Country,” Horseshoe Bay Resort is the premier location for golf in Texas. The beauty of the Texas Hill Country and Lake LBJ are on full display from vantage points on the Slick Rock, Apple Rock, or Ram Rock courses. As one of the best resorts in the country, you have perhaps the finest golf-package experience in the state.
Barton Creek Resort, Hill Country
Four championship courses grace the property of this four-star golf haven. Featuring the architectural work of Tom Fazio, Ben Crenshaw, and Arnold Palmer, the resort affords visitors the chance to play some of the most beautiful golf holes in Texas.
Hyatt Lost Pines Resort and Spa, Border of Hill Country/Prairies & Lakes
Home to the Wolfdancer Golf Club, this woodland vacation destination is on a unique and beautiful property carved out of the lush Lower Colorado River Valley. After five minutes on the property, you’ll find it hard to believe you’re only 15 minutes from downtown Austin.
The Westin Stonebriar Resort, Prairies & Lakes
Designed as a business and resort getaway, Stonebriar is located 30 minutes north of downtown Dallas in the suburb of Frisco and offers a celebrated Tom Fazio design, replete with the types of features and intricacies that have made Fazio a world-renowned architect.
The Woodlands Resort & Country Club, Border of Piney Woods/Gulf Coast
With a bountiful offering of almost 500 rooms, four restaurants, a full-service spa, and everything else you might need for a great family weekend, this forested resort north of Houston has two public golf options: the Oaks Course and the new Panther Trail Course. However, for those with Woodlands Country Club connections, a call from your local pro can generally get you onto the private Palmer Course, Player Course, or Tournament Course.
Four Seasons Dallas at Las Colinas, Prairies & Lakes
The Four Seasons Dallas, home to the PGA Tour’s HP Byron Nelson Classic, is the quintessential five-star resort experience, offering guests access to the TPC (Tournament Players Club) and Cottonwood Valley golf courses. Significant others can enjoy a day of pampering at the spa while golfers hone their games at the resort’s golf school and world-class courses.
Hyatt Hill Country Resort, South Texas Plains
Located across from Sea World, the former Wiseman Ranch is now home to two lush Hill Country courses. Resort amenities abound, including the kid-magnet Lazy River. Charlie’s Long Bar, an eclectic saloon with a long copper bar, is the ideal place to cozy up while the kids enjoy other resort amenities.
La Cantera Golf Club, South Texas Plains
Home of the PGA’s Texas Open since 1995, La Cantera features two truly spectacular golf courses that roller-coaster through the hills west of San Antonio. The original Resort Course is cut out of a limestone quarry with white bunkers and majestic oaks dotting the plush fairways. The newer Palmer Course is just as scenic, offering numerous holes with panoramic views of the city and countryside.
JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, South Texas Plains
Open to guests of the resort, the TPC San Antonio receives rave reviews for its breathtakingly beautiful 36 holes designed by Pete Dye and Greg Norman. Both the Canyons Course (Dye) and the Oaks Course (Norman) were built as host venues for the PGA Tour and are wonderfully picturesque, routing through magnificent stands of live oaks with sweeping views of the Cibolo Canyons community.
Ranch Viejo Resort & Country Club, Gulf Coast
Rancho Viejo has become a golf paradise for travelers in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Two excellent golf courses, combined with two- and three-bedroom villas, excellent dining, and a host of other resort activities, make Rancho Viejo one of the best travel destinations for golf in this southernmost portion of Texas.
La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa, Piney Woods
Nestled along Lake Conroe and one of the most beautiful locations for a golf spree in the state, La Torretta serves up an excellent, redesigned golf course, a $130-million expansion and renovation of the facility, and a tempting smorgasbord of lake and resort activities.
East Texas 9-Holers
Taking I-20 east from Dallas or I-45 north from Houston, it’s easy to jump onto the back roads of East Texas and experience the intense, flavorful Southern character of the Piney Woods region. Pastel antebellum homes, lovingly restored with white Victorian trim, line the charming brick-paved streets of the towns. A pre-World-War-II golf boom was driven by oil wealth, and seemingly every little town established a country club to mimic famed Augusta National.
Mineola Country Club
Spectacular in the spring with dogwoods, crimson clover, and blooming bluebonnets vibrantly carpeting meadows surrounded by majestic pines.
Henderson Country Club
Immaculately conditioned course with lightning-fast greens.
Conroe Country Club
Gateway to Montgomery County, one of Texas’s golf paradises. Old South feel with majestic oaks and the original two-story framed clubhouse.
Marshall Lakeside Country Club
Historic 1920s course just west of the Louisiana border. Mickey Mantle, Y.A. Tittle, and Roy Clark have graced the fairways here.
Old School Municipals
Surrounded by scenic green valleys, clear streams, and rugged live-oak-covered hills, this historic municipal course dates all the way back to the 1920s when John Bredemus laid out the original nine holes as the Kerrville Country Club. Now a full 18 holes, the course is known for its challenging par 5s and, given its consistently great condition, is one of the most sought-after Hill Country golf destinations.
Lions Municipal Golf Course, Austin
Lions is one muni that can’t be taken for granted. Recognized by the National Park Service on the Registration of National Historical Places, the 1928 course was one of the first in the South to desegregate and has been called a landmark of civil rights history. Be advised to play Lions while you still can, though. Despite a strong movement to save this city-operated course, its future is uncertain after its lease with the University of Texas expires in May 2019.
Memorial Park Golf Course, Houston
“The Old Grand Dame” has a nearly 100-year-old reputation as one of the best municipal courses in the country. Following a 1935 redesign by John Bredemus, the architect is reported to have called it his “greatest golf course ever.” The historical integrity of the course was carefully maintained during a mid-1990s restoration.
Tenison Park Golf Course, Dallas
Once called “Hustlers’ Park,” the fabled Tenison Park was long the home turf of legendary golf gambler Titanic Thompson, as well as Texas great Lee Trevino. The original course was laid out in 1925, but the facility has been renovated over the years and now holds as much allure as ever.
-Words by Jason Stone, photos courtesy of The Colony Convention and Visitors Bureau, Crown Colony Country Club, Carlton Wade, and Horseshoe Bay Resort