The small towns of East Texas are a serious golf-adventurer’s dream. Starting in Lindale and stretching to the Louisiana border is the Azalea Golf Trail, a line of public courses in charming spots like Gladewater, Lake Palestine, and Longview, where you’ll enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, tufts of the titular blooming azalea shrub, and some of the best-designed courses in the state, at a price that’ll leave room for more than a couple Lone Stars at the local watering hole. You’ll immediately see, as you pull into towns like Trinity, Conroe, and The Woodlands, why great golf in this region can’t stay a secret for long: towering pine forests, magnolia trees, luxuriously manicured greens, perfect, pink azalea shrubs, and expansive, crystal-blue lakes are generously peppered throughout the area to the north-northeast of Houston. Take a golf trip to East Texas, but be warned: You may never find the right reason to leave.

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BULLARD: Find the best of both worlds in Bullard. Eagle’s Bluff Country Club is an exclusive, dogwood- and oak-lined private club in a gated community on the shores of Lake Palestine. Emerald Bay Club , just five miles north of Eagle’s Bluff, is a gorgeous championship course on the peninsula overlooking Saline Bay, featuring a relaxed state of play and bargain-rate greens fees.

CONROE: Due north of Houston, River Plantation Country Club is a 27-hole delight spread over the Biloxi, Augusta, and Charleston courses for three distinct, challenging plays. Mossy oaks, blooming azaleas, and eyepopping Bermuda greens define this East Texas golf experience, one you won’t want to miss.

LONGVIEW: Just short of the Louisiana border, you’ll find East Texas treasures like Pinecrest Country Club, the oldest course in the Piney Woods region. A former cow pasture converted to a nine-hole course with sand greens in 1921 and updated to a full 18 by Press Maxwell in 1959, Pinecrest is a challenging course, especially on the front nine.

MONTGOMERY: On the west banks of Lake Conroe is this sleepy town, with practically more golf courses than full-time residents. La Toretta is a fantastic stay-and-play option for Piney Woods travelers, featuring 18 holes carved through swaths of towering East Texas pines. Jeffrey Blume had a hand in both La Toretta and the neighboring Bentwater Country Club , an exclusive 54-hole club with features like pine-straw roughs, bone-white bunkers, and a three-acre lake defining the Miller Course.

THE WOODLANDS: The Club at Carlton Woods is one of only two properties in the world containing both Nick Fazio and Jack Nicklaus-designed courses, both of which have received numerous accolades since opening in 2001 and 2005, respectively. With lush greens and creekside views, play either—or both!—for an exclusive, luxurious round.

Road Trips

In the vast expanse of East Texas you’ll find some of the most unique terrains in the state. If you head northeast toward the Louisiana border, you’ll come across courses in small towns like Bullard, Jacksonville, Lindale, and Gladewater, which collectively comprise what is known as the Azalea Golf Trail, named so for the ubiquitous sprouting pink shrubs you’ll encounter along the way. You’ll find no shortage of delightful courses along the Texas/Louisiana border, like The Challenge at Gladewater and, both at the trail’s starting point in Lindale.

And just north of Houston, in towns like Conroe and Huntsville, you’ll find a wonderful, diverse set of 9-hole, pre-war munis and country clubs, easily accessible from the Bayou City. Enjoy the small-town charm of Montgomery, along the banks of Lake Conroe, a golf mecca in its own right, with a dozen or so historically significant, and sparkling, new courses—impressive for a town with a population of under 1,000.

The Woodlands is a thriving, fast-growing master-planned community just outside the city limits, characterized by thick pine forests and world-class, professionally designed, luxurious country clubs and resorts, like Canongate and The Woodlands Country Club.

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