The best courses you can play in Texas
As part of the relaunch of Golf Digest's Places to Play franchise, we are publishing guides to the top public golf facilities in each state.
In this collection, you'll find the best public golf in Texas—a golf-rich and very prideful state. That's deservedly so in Texas with a number of courses that make our 100 Greatest Public ranking.
Scroll on to read more about each of these public golf courses in Texas. And we hope you enjoy exploring our new Places to Play hub.
The Colony, TX
From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten: A decade after golf architect Tripp Davis created one of the finest replica courses in the country, The Tribute Golf Club on the shoreline of Lake Lewisville north of Dallas, he returned and built another 18 adjacent to it called Old American Golf Club.
The two have same architect, the same owner, a shared clubhouse and a shared shoreline, but they differ in many respects. The Tribute, a compact core layout with returning nines, duplicates famous British golf holes. Old American, a residential development course laid out in loop design—nine holes out and nine holes back, to maximize holes along the lakefront—was inspired by National Golf Links and Shinnecock Hills, so it also looks linkslike, with some scattered trees. But there are no template holes on this 18. Old American is a Tripp Davis original.
As befits a design by one of the more talented golfers among the golf architecture community, it features options and bunkers galore and holes that demand oodles of local knowledge. When it opened in 2010, Tripp told a reporter that Old American was, "the most strategic course I've done." Now over a decade later, I suspect he still feels that way.
Watch Golf Digest's 'Every Hole At' Series
From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten: A story about the late country music superstar Waylon Jennings comes to mind—when he was asked once to watch a tribute artist’s performance. The young singer looked like Waylon, sang like Waylon, had Waylon's mannerisms and stage presence. After the show, the kid asked the legend what he thought. You’re good, Waylon told him, but you’ll always be one hit behind.
So it is with The Tribute Golf Links, a Tripp Davis design on the eastern shore of Lake Lewisville, north of Dallas. It’s one of the best replica courses in the country, replicating 18 of Great Britain’s most iconic golf holes, as good a links experience as one could expect on Bermuda turf.
Some holes are more homage than duplicates. The par-3 fifth is Royal Troon’s Postage Stamp, and while architect Davis nailed the topography, the green is far bigger than the original, a grudging concession, I suppose, to the demands of public golf. Conspicuously absent from The Tribute is North Berwick’s par-3 Redan hole.
From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten: Stevens Park Golf Course, a municipal operation in a revitalized area of Oak Cliff just southwest of downtown Dallas, isn’t exactly a preservation of the past, but a celebration of it. The original design was by a pair of club pros, Jack Burke, father of 1955 Masters champ Jack Burke Jr., and Syd Cooper, father of Lighthorse Harry Cooper, one of those “best players never to have won a major.”
The course was built on land donated by Walter A. Stevens and his sister Annie Laurie in memory of their parents, Dr. and Mrs. John H. Stevens. In the early days, Stevens Park was a fun but funky affair, crisscrossed by so many hills, creeks, gullies, trees and city streets that one par 4 required a snap hook off the tee and three others demanded snap-slices.
In 2010, Metroplex course architect John Colligan and his then-associate Trey Kemp reconfigured the course, straightening holes and eliminating blind spots. They kept several original corridors, reversed the direction of seven holes and created eight fully new holes, increasing the length from 5,700 yards to about 6,300, a par 70.