Introduction to Tyler
In this blog post we’re going to explore the golf courses in Tyler, Texas. Otherwise known as the Rose City, Tyler is located in the north east of the state.
The closest major city is Dallas, being about an hour and a half’s drive away to the west. That said, you can fly straight into Tyler as it has its own airport on the city limits.
The city of Tyler was actually named after the tenth president of the United States, John Tyler. Tyler held office from 1841 to 1845 but was only ever meant to be the vice-president. President William Henry Harrison died 31 days after assuming office, with Tyler subsequently stepping in to take his place.
One of the reasons Tyler is so well known nationwide, is due to the role it plays in rose production and cultivation. In fact, it’s not just known as Rose City, but the Rose Capital of America. You’ll also find in the city, the country’s biggest rose garden.
This 14-acre attraction has a mind-blowing 35,000 rose bushes with some 500 different varieties on show.
Other than this you’ll find in Tyler a laid back city that’s easy to explore. There is a great food scene with plenty of outdoors activities and places to visit.
There are also some decent golf courses in Tyler, which we’ll get into now.
See also: What are the best golf courses in Texas?
The best golf courses in Tyler, Texas
Willow Brook Country Club
To the west of Tyler is the private member’s club of Willow Brook Country Club.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, as the city was growing in stature, there was a perceived need for a country club. The likes of Dallas and Fort Worth had a number but there were none in Tyler.
So in 1921 a group of local businessmen and citizens founded the club. And in 1922, a rudimentary nine-hole golf course opened for play.
Some fifteen years later, the great A.W.Tillinghast visited the club. Amusingly, he was highly critical of the design whilst many of his recommendations were fortunately taken on board. But it wasn’t until 1953 that the club eventually laid claim to a full 18-hole layout.
The Texan course architect Ralph Plummer was brought in and designed the routing we largely have today. Since then a number of tweaks and updates have happened. In the 1980s Joe Finger, and more recently Tripp Davis, both made a number of changes to ensure Willow Brook confidently stepped into the twenty-first century.
The rolling hills and tree-lined course has played host to a number of events. The most high profile of these includes the Eisenhower International Golf Classic. This was a one-day pro-Am just after the Byron Nelson PGA Tour event which featured a number of the Tour’s best players.
All in all this is a fine parkland course featuring a number of elevations. Water hazards appear on a few holes, whilst the bunkering is fairly prominent. The elevated greens will tend to be where you lose a number of shots if you don’t club appropriately.
The Cascades Golf & Country Club
To the south west of the city on the bank of Bellwood Lake, is The Cascades Golf & Country Club. This superb member’s club is regularly voted amongst East Texas’ best golf courses.
The course opened in 1956 and was originally known as Briarwood Country Club.
Major changes happened in 2002, with the course being redesigned by Mark Hayes. Hayes was an Oklahoma golf product playing regularly on the PGA Tour. It’s fair to say he was better known for his golfing achievements than his design work. But that’s not to say his designs weren’t high class.
The Cascades Golf & Country Club is immensely playable, measuring 6,944 yards from the back tees. The course meanders through an elegant plot which is both tree-lined and at times hilly. Fairways play both uphill and downhill although generally speaking, the greens are fairly flat.
The course is highly rated by the PGA, having selected it to host a number of Texas State Opens. Throughout the round you’ll encounter some fifty-odd bunkers and no less than ten water hazards.
And keep an eye out for the immense clubhouse, undoubtedly one of the finest you’ll find in Texas.
Hollytree Country Club
The fantastic Hollytree Country Club is just a ten minute drive south of downtown Tyler.
Yet another private member’s club, the superb course opened for play in 1983. The design was a collaboration between Bruce Devlin and Robert Von Hagge, the same duo responsible for many highly regarded designs worldwide.
They have a reputation for designing challenging courses and Hollytree Country Club is no different. So much so, the club has been chosen to host some top amateur and collegiate events.
One thing you simply can’t forget to mention when discussing Hollytree is water.
The wet stuff comes into play on the vast majority of holes. And we’re not talking little ponds or snaking creeks (although there are a handful of these). We’re talking large lakes which run the whole side of the hole or which need to be carried from the tee.
And once you think you’ve successfully avoided the water, you’ll be confronted with a well-protected green complex. This is really challenging stuff and target golf at its finest despite being just 6,805 yards from the back tees.
Aside from the golf, the club is home to a large swimming pool and a multitude of tennis courts.
Peach Tree Golf Club (Oak Hurst Course)
Between Bullard and Flint, some twenty to twenty-five minutes south of central Tyler, is Peach Tree Golf Club.
The course originally started life in 1984 as a nine-hole executive length design. This was essentially built for beginners and high handicap players.
Some time later the course expanded to 18-holes whilst in 1993, the club built a new 18-hole layout, the Oak Hurst course.
The Oak Hurst is a full-length championship design, built to complement what was already there. It was designed by Carlton Gipson, who had a modest career designing courses, albeit most of which are focused around the Houston area.
Sadly in 2018, the original executive length course closed with the club instead focusing all their efforts on maintaining and running the more popular Oak Hurst.
The unheralded design features plenty of movement and undulations. There is also a nice variety of holes. Some make their way through thick woodland whilst others feature generous fairways allowing you to let rip with the driver. Expect plenty of water, bunkers and undulating greens.
The Oak Hurst Course is good fun and unpretentious. Without doubt one of the best public golf courses in Tyler, Texas.
Pine Springs Golf Club
From one fantastic public golf course to another, this time we look at Pine Springs Golf Club.
Pine Springs is located to the north of Tyler, not far from Owentown. On a map it looks far but it is only a ten to fifteen minute drive.
This is a beautiful area, isolated from the noise and bustle of modern life. Surrounding the course is thick woodland with not a residential property in sight.
The course opened in 1999 and was designed by the relatively unknown Michael Evans. Evans designed a par-72 course which from the back tees measures 6,509 yards.
The layout is not overly taxing, probably not one a lower handicap player would find too troubling. But it makes up for its lack of strategic challenge in the site’s natural beauty. Elegant pine tree-lined fairways, gently rolling hills and pristine lakes of which a fair few come into play.
But please don’t think this is just a gentle walk in the park. Oh no. There are some tricky holes and enough risk and reward shots to really test your course management and pure ability.
For a public golf course, the condition is superb. Both fairways and greens are more often than not, in great condition, a strong reputation the club has built over the years.
Emerald Bay Club
As far as locations go, there are very few golf courses in Tyler which can match Emerald Bay.
The course is partly on the mainland and partly on a peninsula which projects itself into Saline Bay. The bay itself is an off-shoot of the vast and pristine Lake Palestine, a stunning lake to the south west of Tyler.
Emerald Bay is a 355-acre private golf community built around an 18-hole championship course. Opening in 1972, the course measures just over 6,600 yards from the back tees.
Maybe not the longest of all courses but there is plenty to get you in trouble. Water comes into play on nearly half the holes, with par 3s over water as well as tee shots and approach shots all needing to carry it.
Many of the holes are tree lined whilst the rough can at times be brutal. This is certainly not one for the faint hearted.
This is a great course but knowing a member is your only way to play here.
Eagle’s Bluff Country Club
Last on the list but by no means the least, is the superb Eagle’s Bluff Country Club. This is without a doubt one of the finest private golf courses in East Texas.
Just like Emerald Bay Club, Eagle’s Bluff Country Club is located on the shores of the glistening Lake Palestine. Beautifully scenic, this idyllic location is just a half hour’s drive from downtown Tyler.
Eagle’s Bluff is a private retreat offering the ultimate in lakeside living. 462 acres of verdant scenery full of ancient trees, serene lakes and meandering creeks. This place is special.
The 18-hole championship golf course opened just before the turn of the century in 1999, having been designed by Carlton Gipson. Routed across the gently rolling terrain, it is characterized by the century-old oaks and numerous water features.
Water is in play on over half the holes. Whilst at times narrow tree-lined fairways with multiple bunkers require absolute accuracy off the tee.
So good is the course it has been lauded with praise by many of the major publications. GolfWeek Magazine has recognised Eagle’s Bluff among ‘America’s Best Residential Golf Courses’. Similarly, Dallas Morning News named it the #1 Private Golf Course in East Texas.
Gipson may not have designed hundreds of golf courses throughout his career. But with a portfolio including Eagle’s Bluff, he may not mind!