An introduction to Austin Texas
Austin is dwarfed in size by the likes of Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, yet it’s the capital city of this remarkable state. And there are some damn fine golf courses in Austin.
Austin is known worldwide as the ‘Live Music Capital of the World’. This is due to its vibrant music scene pivoting around blues, rock and country. It also has a burgeoning arts scene which really is the heart and soul of the city.
The city is located two hours drive from San Antonio and three hours from Houston. You don’t quite realise how far away it is from some of the major cities of Texas.
See also: What are the best golf courses in Texas?
Although the eastern part of the city is pretty flat, to the west there are the rolling hills right on the edge of Texas Hill Country. It is predominantly in the western part where some of the finer golf courses are located.
Within the city, there are some great things to see and do. For art lovers, look no further than the Blanton Museum of Art within the University of Texas campus. And for party lovers, head down to 6th street where there are plenty of bars, live music and shops.
Yet it is also an outdoors lovers state. What better than walking round Zilker Park and on a hot day and diving into the refreshing Barton Springs Pool. Of course, there are tons of other cool things to do in Austin. But for now let’s get into the golf courses near Austin.
The best golf courses in Austin Texas
Barton Creek Country Club (Fazio Canyons & Fazio Foothills)
Within the scenic rolling foothills to the western edge of Austin, you will find this superb golf club. It is part of the five star Omni Barton Creek Resort.
There are actually four golf courses here. These are the Fazio Canyons, the Coore Crenshaw layout, the Palmer Lakeside (actually located 25 miles up the Colorado River) and finally the signature course, the Fazio Foothills. And it is fair to say, all four are superb.
Both Fazio courses are generally regarded as being the better two. Although we could debate this long into the night and preferably over a cold beer.
Throughout the Canyons course, enjoy stunning scenic views of Austin Hill Country and Short Springs Ranch. The theatre really unfolds as the fairways emerge from the mature red oaks and sycamore trees.
So finely in tune with the surrounding environment, this was the first resort course in Texas to be awarded the Audubon International Signature Sanctuary. From the back tees, the course stretches to nearly 7,200 yards challenging the best golfers out there.
Despite the fact this is a resort course, it is without doubt one of the best golf courses in Texas. The other great news, it is open to the public, just like all three other courses here.
The Fazio foothills is yet another gem and it really is difficult to separate the two Fazio courses. Another raking in accolades, Golf Magazine ranked it as one of the best golf courses you can play in Texas.
This really is a spectacular course to play. There are elevated tee boxes with magnificent views, narrow weaving fairways, and greens protected by waterfalls, cliffs and creeks. It certainly puts a premium on shot-making.
The Fazio Foothills course has hosted numerous PGA events including the PGA Cup, the inaugural Women’s PGA Cup and played host to the Champions Tour Legends of Golf tournament in the early nineties.
Both Fazio courses are sensational and without a doubt should be on your list of golf courses to play near Austin.
Wolfdancer Golf Club
The fantastic Wolfdancer golf club is a public golf course onsite at the luxury Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa. It’s about a half-hour drive to the east of downtown Austin.
The course is routed across hilly terrain with the Colorado River running along one side of the course. From here the land climbs upwards into a plateau. For half of the course you’ll find yourself surrounded by dense woodland. Whilst the other half is played on the open plateau.
The course was designed by Arthur Hills, a man involved with over 200 courses throughout his 50 year career. From the back tees Wolfdancer stretches to over 7,200. Yet with a choice of different tee boxes, all abilities are welcome.
For a public course, this is classy and a great option. Some of the holes on the back nine are top class and would be up there amongst many of the best golf holes in Austin. One thing you can be assured of here is that you’ll have a great time, with no two holes the same.
Austin Country Club
On the banks of the Colorado River with the Pennybacker Bridge as the backdrop to the club, sits the venerable Austin Country Club. Venerable, because the club has been here since the 19th century, founded in 1899.
The 180 acre property which houses the country club has bags of natural beauty. There are canyon views and vistas across the surrounding countryside. Although this wasn’t always the case. The club changed location a couple of times before settling on its current Davenport Ranch property.
The course is great, designed by Pete Dye with a variety of styles. Water plays a big part, be it carries over water or water running the length of the fairway. Canyons that come into play like on the 8th hole, as well as a ravine which front the 12th green.
As a sign of how highly regarded the course is, in 2016 it was the host venue for the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. This was where the Australian Jason Day prevailed after a gruelling few days.
University of Texas Golf Club
The superb golf course here at the University of Texas was designed by Bechtol Russell Golf Design and opened for play in 2003.
The club is located to the west of central Austin, just north of the Colorado River. It is just where climb up into the Austin Hills towards Lake Travis. This really is a wonderful spot, dense in undergrowth and it is in this landscape that the fairways were routed. The club borders the Balcones Natural Wildlife Preserve and from various vantage points there are gorgeous views of Lake Austin.
The course stretches to just over a mighty 7,400 yards and is a beast from the back. Not just navigating the pure length but knowing when to pull out the driver or when to hit it safe. There are an impressive six tee boxes to choose from though, so most levels of golfer are welcome.
The green complexes are one of the main appeals, with many slightly elevated and beautifully framed by pristine, contoured bunkers. For those looking to practice their short game, try the 6-hole par 3 short course. It was co-designed by Jordan Speith and called the ‘Speith Lower 40’.
With a course like this, no wonder the University of Texas continues to churn out quality golfers!
Spanish Oaks Golf Club
Just to the west of the city, is the wonderful yet private Spanish Oaks golf club. It is routed on incredibly hilly terrain climbing into the Austin hills.
The course was designed by Bobby Weed, a man who learnt his trade working for the renowned Pete Dye. At Spanish Oaks he has done a tremendous job balancing the need for a top class golf course and the demands of the residential developer.
Any property surrounding the course is by and large out of view. Alongside this, Weed has masterfully used the movement in the land to route a wonderful variety of holes.
The course has won huge acclaim for how sensitive it has been towards the surrounding environment. During the build, the layout was delicately routed to preserve as much of the pre-existing vegetation as possible.
Carts are pretty essential when playing, as the terrain climbs and drops but don’t let that put you off. Spanish Oaks is a top drawer layout and one of the best golf courses in Austin, Texas. It is well worth playing if you get the chance.
Horseshoe Bay (Summit Rock)
This super popular vacation resort on the shores of Lake Lyndon B. Johnson is a good hour from central Austin. But in some ways this is perfect as you are away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Acclaim has been steady for the resort. It was awarded as being ‘One of the Best Golf Resorts in the Southwest’ by Golf Digest. And Golf Magazine named it part of the ‘Top 100 Golf Resorts in North America’.
The resort is upmarket, with numerous modern villas and suites to choose from with some great dining options. And the resort really steps up with its golf offering with three championship golf courses to enjoy. Add to this the signature course, which is unfortunately members only, Summit Rock.
The three courses open to the public include Ram Rock, Apple Rock and Slick Rock. Each of them was designed by the iconic Robert Trent Jones Sr.
But it is the superb Jack Nicklaus signature course, Summit Rock, the stand out track here. The course was named ‘Best New Course in America’ by Golf Digest. So good is Summit Rock, it is regularly considered as one of the best golf courses in Texas.
The scenery when playing is simply stunning as it winds through the rolling topography and stands of Texas Live Oaks. There are elevated tee boxes, notably the 3rd with magnificent views across Hill Country, as well as large raised greens.
Austin Golf Club
Just under an hours drive from downtown Austin, is Austin golf club, an enigma amongst golf courses near Austin. The club keeps its head under the radar, doing no promotion or publicity. It doesn’t even have a website.
The course opened for play in 2001 and was designed by the prolific Ben Crenshaw. His long-term colleague Bill Coore did however support in the project. The idea behind the course was simple; design a top class golf course purely for the benefit of the membership.
There was no residential estate as part of the project, no additional amenities or country club style service. The clubhouse is unpretentious and simple. This is all about the game of golf and nothing else.
From the tee box, there is little to overly worry the golfer. Wide generous fairways with few hazards. Yet it is without doubt the outstanding green complexes which stand out. Beautifully contoured and lightning fast, they have been expertly sloped.
This is without a doubt one of those courses where time spent on the practice green is far more worthwhile than on the range.
Hills of Lakeway (Hills)
The Hills of Lakeway is a private member community, located to the west of Austin. It is literally just off the shores of Lake Travis.
As with most of these exclusive communities, there are all the amenities you would expect. Tennis courts, fitness classes, swimming pools, restaurants and of course not forgetting the golf.
Golf is a big deal here. So much so, there are four courses onsite. The Hills, a Jack Nicklaus signature course, Flintrock Falls which is a collaboration between Jack Nicklaus and his son Jackie. Yaupon and Live Oak are the other two.
Without doubt, both Nicklaus designed courses, the Hills and Flintrock Falls, are the better ones with most people attesting to the Hills being the finest of the lot. The Hills was actually the first course opened and features tree-lined fairways, copious bunkering and at times, creeks and ravines which need to be negotiated.
With six tee options on each hole, the course is open to all abilities. Although with the less challenging Yaupon and Live Oak, a narrow and shorter course, these might be more suitable to higher handicappers.
Escondido Golf & Lake Club
And so to the last on our list of golf courses in Austin Texas and it packs a punch. Escondido golf course is part of a private gated community south of Lake Lyndon B. Johnson to the west of Austin, a good hour outside of the city.
Escondido golf course is surrounded by courses part of the Horseshoe Resort we looked at earlier, but without a doubt Escondido stands proudly above arguably all of those courses for quality.
It is a Tom Fazio design, which opened for play in 2006 and measures over 7,100 yards from the back tees. Every attention to detail is on view here. On arrival valet is expecting you. There is a bar and steam room in the fully-equipped men’s locker room. They even have one of the best halfway houses in the country called the Smoke Shack which serves up all kinds of treats including brisket tacos!
The course is divine, immaculately maintained across rolling hills and granite outcroppings. The fairways weave through majestic mature oaks and over spring-fed creeks. Like many of Fazio’s greatest designs, the course really does reflect the natural beauty of the environment.
What is the best golf course in Austin, Texas?
The best golf course in Austin Texas, is the outstanding Escondido Golf & Lake Club. It is located south of Lake Lyndon B. Johnson an hour to the west of Austin. It was designed by Tom Fazio and opened for play in 2006.
How many golf courses are there in Austin Texas?
Within 20 miles of Austin Texas, there are 39 golf courses. Within the city itself, there are 28 golf courses including a mixture of private and public courses.