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The best courses you can play in Texas

August 19, 2022

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.

TPC San Antonio: Oaks
Public
TPC San Antonio: Oaks
San Antonio
50 Panelists
TPC San Antonio’s Oaks course has hosted the Valero Texas Open since 2010. Playing through the dry outlands north of the city, the Greg Norman design is one of the most strategically compelling courses on tour with aggressive bunkering, some wonderful short par 4s and several uniquely demanding par 5s, including the 18th, one of the most underrated and frustrating closing holes the professionals play. --Derek Duncan, architecture editor
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Horseshoe Bay Resort: Ram Rock
33 Panelists
Host of the Texas State Open on multiple occasions, this Hill Country course is a demanding test—so much so it used to be called “Challenger.” Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., the par 72 is built in a counter-clockwise circle, causing several of the doglegs to favor a right-to-left-shape. Rugged rock outcroppings throughout the course, as well as an island green on the par-3 fourth, make Ram Rock a memorable place to play at Horseshoe Bay Resort, which features four 18-hole courses.
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Barton Creek Country Club: Fazio Canyons
54 Panelists
One of Texas' best golf resorts is the Omni Barton Creek, located just 25 minutes outside of Austin. The resort features four 18-hole designs, and the highest-ranked layout is the Fazio Canyons design, a former Golf Digest America's 100 Greatest Public winner. This signature Tom Fazio design, which offers scenic views of Austin’s Hill Country, will undergo a renovation beginning May 1, 2022.
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Golf Club of Houston: Tournament Course
36 Panelists
Formerly known as Redstone Golf Club, the Golf Club of Houston hosted the PGA Tour’s Shell Houston Open from 2002 through 2018 until the tournament moved to the municipal Memorial Park. The 7,425-yard layout, just minutes away from downtown, was designed by Rees Jones and David Toms and features multi-tiered green complexes and a number of water hazards.
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Pine Dunes Resort & Golf Club: Pine Dunes
Located about 100 miles outside Dallas, Pine Dunes is a hidden gem in a secluded part of East Texas. For less than $100 during peak season, golfers can experience this unique Jay Morrish layout—our Architecture Editor Emeritus Ron Whitten said “there’s nothing else like it in Texas.” Sandy waste areas with pines transport you to the Pinehurst area, and the design doesn’t feature many forced carries or water hazards, making it playable for all levels.
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Omni Barton Creek Resort: Fazio Foothills
Fazio Foothills is another former member of America's 100 Greatest Public, and the favorite among many at the Omni Barton Creek, though the Canyons course ranks slightly higher in our scoring criteria. The Foothills course, which used to host a PGA Tour Champions event and hosted the 2003 U.S. Senior Women's Amateur, underwent an update in 2017 to the layout, which tumbles and undulates down the rolling hills and around and over creeks.
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Black Jack's Crossing At Lajitas Golf Resort: Black Jacks
Built along the Rio Grande with stunning views of Big Bend National Park, Black Jack’s Crossing is the perfect combination of excellent golf, beautiful aesthetics and history. The course was named after a U.S. Army general, and its pro shop served as a trading post for cowboys and miners in the 1800s. As you play over ravines and navigate your way through rocky cliffs, don’t forget to stop and appreciate the story behind this unique piece of land.
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Wolfdancer Golf Club: Wolfdancer
Just 20 miles east of Austin, Wolfdancer Golf Club feels like two courses in one: The first 12 holes weave through the rolling prairie hills, while the last six are down in the river valley. With contoured greens and ample shot variety, this Arthur Hills design provides a memorable challenge.
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Butterfield Trail Golf Club: Butterfield
Situated against the backdrop of the Franklin, Hueco, and Sierra Madre mountains, this Tom Fazio design is a great deal for a solid test of golf: Tee times are just $40 with a cart. The course, cherished by community members, was set to close down during the pandemic until former PGA Tour player Todd Barranger helped lift the struggling track off its feet.
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Traditions Club: Traditions
Booking overnight accommodations at Traditions Club allows the public access to this 7,146-yard Jack Nicklaus design with views of Kyle Field and the university in the distance. Emphasis here is on accuracy instead of distance with water on 11 holes, forced carries on 16 of them and plentiful native vegetation throughout.
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The Quarry Golf Course: Quarry
Public
The Quarry Golf Course: Quarry
San Antonio
Designed by Keith Foster in 1993, this par 71 is defined by its fascinating history. The rock formations throughout the golf course date back to 1908 when the piece of land was home to the Alamo Quarry. Along with its unique story, the San Antonio course boasts dramatic cliffs with abrupt elevation changes.
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Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club: TPC Las Colinas
This par-70 resort course hosted the PGA Tour’s AT&T Byron Nelson for 35 years. Aesthetics are very high with several uses of very natural-looking water hazards/creeks that blend in seamlessly to holes. The Four Seasons feel is evident all around, especially with consistently good conditioning. Large green complexes put a premium on approach shots, and if the wind is up, this can turn into a difficult test.
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La Cantera Golf Club
Public
La Cantera Golf Club
San Antonio
Ranked Golf Digest’s Best New Public Course of 1995, La Cantera Golf Club is a beautiful Texas Hill Country course located on one of the highest points in the area. As you navigate the frequent elevation changes and tricky false fronts on this 7,001-yard par-72, look out at impressive views of the Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme park.
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The Rawls Course at Texas Tech
This was Tom Doak's first project after completing Pacfiic Dunes at Bandon Dunes Resort. The Red Raider course was created from a flat cotton field, but Doak's team transformed the land by moving 1.3 million yards of topsoil to create a stunning setting with incredible movement and natural-looking features. The result is one of the top university golf courses in the country.
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TPC San Antonio: Canyons
Public
TPC San Antonio: Canyons
San Antonio
This Pete Dye design is the sister course to the Valero Texas Open’s TPC San Antonio Oaks course. The 7,106-yard par-72 is a tournament course in its own right: It hosted a PGA Tour Champions event from 2011-15. Experience expansive views of a beautiful 700-acre nature preserve as you’re tested by the Canyons’ hilly terrain and signature Dye bunkering.
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The Old American Golf Club: Old American

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.

 

Read Whitten's complete review here.

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Brackenridge Park Golf Course
Public
Brackenridge Park Golf Course
San Antonio
Home to the very first Texas Open in 1922, Brackenridge Park is a tree-lined city-park course with tee times starting at only $53. In 2008, a restoration and rerouting brought the municipal track back to its original 1916 A.W. Tillinghast style. Located just north of downtown San Antonio, Brackenridge is now the site of the Texas Golf Hall of Fame.
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Tempest Golf Club: The Tempest
Public
Tempest Golf Club: The Tempest
Gladewater
A major transformation turned the former site of Southern Hills Golf Club into a new premier East Texas semi-private course accessible to the public. Architect Jeff Brauer kept the same corridors of the course, carved into huge pines on gently rolling land, but rebuilt green complexes in unique shapes.
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Barton Creek Country Club: Crenshaw Cliffside
Part of the major renovations at Omni Barton Creek totaling more than $150 million included an update to the Coore and Crenshaw layout, which opened in 1991. (The resort also added three pools, including an infinity pool looking out over its golf courses.) Though the land on the two Fazio courses is much more rolling and interesting, Bill Coore and Austin native Ben Crenshaw created some interesting putting surfaces which will make all resort guests think.
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Cowboys Golf Club
Public
Cowboys Golf Club
Grapevine
The first NFL-themed course, Cowboys Golf Club features Dallas Cowboys lore all over the property. Super Bowl trophies, rings and Cowboys memorabilia line the clubhouse, while the course features stone markers with facts about the team’s history. The Jeff Brauer design winds through Grapevine Lake Spillway, about 20 miles from AT&T Stadium, boasting undulating greens and hilly terrain.
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The Tribute Golf Links
Public
The Tribute Golf Links
The Colony

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.
 

Read Whitten's complete review here.

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Memorial Park Golf Course
Public
Memorial Park Golf Course
Houston
A significant renovation was completed by Tom Doak (in collaboration with Brooks Koepka) to transform the old municipal course at Memorial Park into a layout worthy of being a PGA Tour venue. Originally built in 1912 at a hospital near Camp Logan for recovering soldiers to use, architect John Bredemus redesigned the course in 1935 and added a second nine. Now with signature Doak green complexes, Memorial Park is once again a must-play in the state.
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Stevens Park Golf Course
Public
Stevens Park Golf Course
Dallas

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. 
 

Read Whitten's complete review of Stevens Park here.

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Texas Rangers Golf Club: Texas Rangers
The product of a partnership between Arlington Golf and the Texas Rangers, this MLB-themed course opened in February 2019. Designed by Arlington native John Colligan on the site of the old Chester Ditto municipal course, Texas Rangers Golf Club takes advantage of 55 feet of elevation changes on the property and boasts large undulating greens. On the first tee, check out the “On Deck” circle, where players can blast one last drive into the practice range before they hit their first shots.
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Crown Colony Country Club
A top-five course in Texas in Golf Digest's rankings in the 1980s and 1990s, this Robert von Hagge design still holds a reputation as being one of Texas' best options for public players. Stay-and-play options offer unlimited golf. Tucked away in the East Texas pine trees, this difficult course with small green complexes and deep greenside bunkers will challenge every level of player.
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