An introduction to Texas

The Lone Star State is the second biggest state in the U.S. after Alaska. It also has the second largest population after California. 

This vast state is over 268,000 square miles! Surprisingly, despite being considered as a desert state alongside other southern states such as Arizona and New Mexico, only 10% of it is desert. The largest landmass in Texas is actually forests, grasslands, former prairies and coastline.

The biggest (most populous) city in Texas is Houston. It is right on the eastern coastline over Galveston Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. Following Houston, you have San Antonio and Dallas-Fort Worth as the next most populous.

No surprise then all the best golf courses are concentrated around these three major cities. There is one exception, with some great golf courses in Austin just to the northeast of San Antonio.

See also: What are the best golf courses in Austin, Texas?

The best golf courses in Texas

Escondido Golf Club

This Tom Fazio design is a good hour’s drive from downtown Austin. Just follow the Colorado River up towards Lake Lyndon B. Johnson. This is a popular retreat with numerous holiday homes, rentals, the large Horseshoe Bay Resort, water activities and golf.

Escondido golf club is part of a private gated community. It is literally surrounded on all sides by other golf courses, all part of the Horseshoe Bay Resort. But Escondido is a stunner, a gorgeous design and without doubt one of the best golf courses in Texas. 

The first thing which elevates Escondido is its first-class service. Upon arrival valet will be awaiting you. Amazingly there is a bar and steam room in the men’s lockers. And it has one of the best halfway houses in the nation. 

The second thing which elevates Escondido is without doubt the golf course. Fazio has done an amazing job working with the natural environment. Immaculate fairways beautifully weave across rolling hills and through granite outcroppings. 

There are oaks and spring-fed creeks jutting in and out of play. And at over 7,100 yards from the backs, this is no pushover.

Colonial Country Club

This is a golf club with a fascinating history, one which sounds so far-fetched it can’t be true. Well I can assure you it is.

The story starts back in 1927. 32 year old Marvin Leonard, a member at River Crest golf club up the road in Fort-Worth, began taking more than a part-time interest in golf. Leonard studied not just how to improve playing the game, but also golf course design. 

His studies led him to read about the types of grasses used to turf golf courses. It was at this point he discovered Bentgrass.

Bentgrass was rarely used in the U.S. at the time preferred instead for the springy and more durable Bermuda grass. Whilst Bentgrass was said to be as smooth as a billiard table, it was temperamental in the heat. 

Cutting a very long story short, the clearly well-off Leonard decided to purchase land and build his own golf club. The simple aim, aside from owning his own club, was to establish Bentgrass greens.

Even the story for the layout was radical. Two different architects submitted a number of designs for the course. Leonard then chose the final-18 from those designs and the course belatedly opened for play in 1936.

Fast forward to today, Colonial Country Club exists due to this one man. Particularly his strong-willed determination to have a top class golf course made with Bentgrass greens. 

The club hosted the U.S. Open in 1941 and the U.S. Women’s Open in 1991. It’s without doubt a shot-makers course, not one where you need to smash the driver on every occasion. The greens are tight and will penalise sloppy approach play.

Bluejack National Golf Course

Bluejack National Golf Club - Photo credit Roger Horrie
Photo Credit Roger Horrie

A good hour’s drive northwest from central Houston, is the outstanding Bluejack National Golf Course. It’s a private residential club with a whole host of facilities and amenities onsite. These include the first Tiger Woods designed golf course in the U.S.

The site is blissful, 767 acres of rolling wooded hills close to Montgomery. This really is far away from the bustle of a megacity. There are a handful of lakes which come into play, none more so than on the wonderful 12th hole. It s 180 yard par 3 over water which is reminiscent of the 12th at Augusta.

There are a multitude of tees on each hole making the course accessible to all levels of golfer. There is also no rough, replaced instead by one cut of smooth Zoysia grass. Yet another feature which improves the playability. 

If you do get the chance to visit and play Bluejack National, make sure you jump on the Playgrounds. It’s a superb 10-hole short course also designed by Tiger and an absolute blast.

Brook Hollow Golf Club

Brook Hollow Golf Club, Texas, Photo credit Scott Dorn
Photo credit Scott Dorn

A short drive from downtown is one of the finest golf courses in Dallas. Head northwest until you reach the Lovefield neighborhood and here you’ll find the immense Brook Hollow golf club . 

Over the years the course has both enjoyed and suffered from numerous make-overs. Yet at it’s heart it is an original A.W.Tillinghurst design which opened for play in 1921.

The choice of this site was fortuitous being as most of the soil which surrounds Dallas is clay-based. Whereas the site for Brook Hollow was purposely chosen due to being sand-based, allowing the fairways to drain easily. Word has it A.W. Tillinghurst himself chose the location.

Sadly, over time this once rural location has slowly been swallowed by the urban spread of Dallas. Drab commercial buildings are visible from a number of fairways. Yet this doesn’t and shouldn’t detract from the course and challenge on offer.

In 2020 the course received significant investment. Keith Foster was employed to reestablish many of the original Tillinghurst design features alongside some of his own personal enhancements. The subsequent renovation is masterful. 

Brook Hollow will without a doubt continue to reclaim its position as one of the best golf courses in Texas.

Black Jack’s Crossing Golf Club

Black Jacks Crossing Golf Club, Texas

Now when we’re talking about golf courses which are going to blow your socks off, welcome to Black Jack’s Crossing. This absolute blast of a course is as isolated as it gets, on the U.S./Mexico border down by the Rio Grande in west Texas. You’re gonna be driving for some time to get here.

But by god the drive is worth it. The course is located on the Lagunitas golf resort which is tucked between the Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park in the rugged desert landscape.

The course was designed by the eight-time member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, Lanny Wadkins, also winner of the 1977 PGA Championship and this really is spectacular. With the mighty backdrop of the imposing mountains, Black Jack’s Crossing weaves its way slowly upwards into the hillier terrain, through rocky outcrops and desert landscape.

There are some stunning holes, well worthy of pulling out the camera to snap a few photos. The 6th hole, an uphill par 4, the 5th hole, a par 3 and the 8th hole with its elevated tee box are all some of the highlights in an already impressive rota of high points. 

There is a reason nearly every mainstream golf publication rates this as one of, if not the best public golf course you can play in Texas.

Austin Golf Club

This is a special place where golf is placed on a pedestal and nothing is allowed to obstruct from the most simple of pleasures, enjoying a round of golf on a special golf course. Welcome to Austin Golf Club.

There is a real mystery which surrounds Austin golf club, for starters the fact there is no website and very little written about it online. The course opened for play in 2001 and was designed by Ben Crenshaw, who during the project got some help from his long-term partner Bill Coore. But at its heart, this is a Crenshaw project.

The idea was simple here – build a golf course purely for the pleasure of its membership. Not overly challenging, but beautiful and enjoyable. It is said Crenshaw would spend days and days here tweaking, refining, and improving.

The course allows you to pull out the driver, with open fairways gently rolling through the lightly wooded terrain and not overly penal. The real attraction though are the first-class green complexes. You absolutely have to be on your A-game with your approach shots, and that’s before you start putting. 

Whispering Pines Golf Club

Whispering Pines Golf Club, Texas

A good 88 mile drive north of Houston towards the town of Livingston in Polk County, take a left towards Trinity and you’ll soon arrive at Lake Livingston. Right on the northern shore of the lake, is the wonderful and secluded Whispering Pines golf course.

This is a gorgeous location; 400 acres of lake views, pine woodlands, creeks, dunes and ample wildlife. As such Whispering Pines is primarily a woodland course, which was a design led by Chet Williams of Nicklaus Golf Design. The course in its current guise opened for play in 2000.

From the back tees, it is close to reaching an impressive 7,500 yards! The front-nine kicks things off relatively serenely, with some solid play and positioning required to score well. 

Yet it is on the back-nine that the course really comes alive. The closing five holes are up there as some of the best in all of Texas with the iconic 15th hole, a short par 3 over gator-filled water to a well protected green is just immense. 

Year on year Whispering Pines golf club gets recognised as not just one of the best golf courses in Texas, but one of the finest in the nation.

Boot Ranch Golf Course

Boot Ranch Golf Club, Texas

Deep in the heart of Texas Hill Country, is the awesome Boot Ranch golf course. It is around an hour and a half’s drive from both Austin and San Antonio. This is a private golf course limited to members only unfortunately.

This part of Texas is deeply rooted in German tradition and aside from Napa Valley, is the second largest wine-growing region in the U.S. Just 10 minutes away is the city of Fredericksburg, a city known for its wineries in this part of the world.

The course is part of a large exclusive residential community, with large plots dedicated to each house. The clubhouse is immense, set on slightly higher ground overlooking the 34 acre practice area as well as most of the surrounding course.

The landscape is pure bliss, with the Hal Sutton designed course weaving majestically through hills and across canyons, without forgetting the stunning views. There is such movement in the terrain, fairways are at times carved into the rolling hills and ridges. 

Boot Ranch regularly gets recognised as one of the best golf courses in Texas. It is also one of the finest residential golf courses in the country.

Dallas National Golf Club

Dallas National Golf Club, Texas, Photo-credit-Scott-Dorn
Photo credit Scott Dorn

To the west of downtown Dallas towards Mountain Creek Lake, is the divine Dallas National Golf Club, set on a beautiful wooded piece of land.

This is a club made for the golf purists, with impressive practice facilities. There is the 130- yard wide practice range, which has the essential tee at both ends. Add to that the bunkered practice greens, another short-game practice area and six putting greens.

The course itself is just sensational and it is without doubt one of Tom Fazio’s masterpieces. The man has many courses in America’s Top 100 golf courses, but this is up there with the best of them.

The layout is largely influenced by the fact the site is a limestone canyon, so elevations play a central role. There are ravines, elevated tee boxes and plateaued fairways. Thick woodland means few fairways are visible from one another and with no residential property lining the course, this is seclusion at its utmost, a premium so close to a major city.

The condition is immaculate, as to be expected. And at just over 7,400 yards, it is a beast.

Cordillera Ranch

The first Jack Nicklaus signature golf course in Texas Hill Country, the Golf Club at Cordillera Ranch is something special. 

Special not just for the fact the Golden Bear himself gave this his seal of approval, but the fact the surrounding landscape is divine. There are breathtaking views of the Guadalupe River Valley with cascading water features dotted all over the place. 

The Cordillera Ranch is a master-planned community, set within 8,700 acres of stunning countryside. The simple objective here is to offer a range of luxury facilities for its members. This includes amongst others, a river club, an equestrian club, a tennis & swim club, and the list goes on. In all there are seven different clubs.

But central amongst this is the 7,450 yard championship layout, which meanders through the oak valley which itself is surrounded by a chain of hilltops. Any residential properties lining the course are hidden back enough that they don’t impact the character of the design. 

What is the best golf course in Texas?

The best golf course in Texas is the private Whispering Pines Golf Club. The club is located north of Houston and was designed by Chet Williams of Nicklaus Golf Design.

How many golf courses are there in Texas?

Within the state of Texas there are just over 900 golf courses. This includes a mixture of private and public golf courses with most located around the major cities. The are Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin.

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