Updated February 2024 to update booking information.
So goes the saying, everything is bigger in Texas. I drove across the state one time and it was a multiple–day endeavor – I drive pretty fast too. On this particular trip, there wasn’t any time for golf. It was nothing more than gas stations, rest stops, fast food, and a couple of fleabag motels.
With that being said, I have spent some time in Texas playing golf. Most of it has been in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but I’ve sprinkled in some other rounds elsewhere too. With that being said, there was no way I could come up with a list of the top ten public courses in the state without some help.
As always, you guys came through and the list below is a culmination of our efforts. So, without further ado, off we go.
Moody Gardens Golf Course
If you’ve never been to the city of Galveston, you’ve got to go. Located south and east of Houston, this island gulf town is rich with a culture all its own.
What drew me to Galveston more than anything was a tip from a reader about Moody Gardens Golf Course. Always up for an adventure I had to go check it out… I wasn’t disappointed.
Owned by the city, this Jacobsen-Hardy design has some of the purest Paspalum fairways I’ve ever played. If you miss hit a shot out here, it’s no one’s fault but your own.
The setting is right on the water and tropical breezes remind me of some far off place, warm and tropical. Don’t get too relaxed though, those same winds can make shot and club selection difficult.
If you’re in the area, Moody Gardens is a must play for a reasonable price.
Butterfield Trail Golf Club
I’ve only spent a brief time in El Paso and regrettably, I haven’t played Butterfield Trail. From what our readers tell me however, it’s out of this world.
Surrounded by natural dunes and native South Texas shrubbery, Butterfield Dunes offers the discerning player a real test. With that said, the track is playable for everyone thanks to variable tee options.
I’m told the wind blows out here too, so taking an extra club and swinging easy is the way to go.
Even though the layout is more open than other courses, you’ll have a tough time if you veer too far offline.
What locals love most about the course is the variety of shots you can play around the green. Tightly mown runoffs and surrounds, allow you to choose anything from the good ‘Ol Texas wedge to the lob wedge.
The rates here are undeniable as well. For just $40, you can play 18 holes during the fall and winter months.
The Wilderness Golf Course
I can’t figure out why the Wilderness isn’t more famous than it is. Called ”the best kept secret in Texas”, this track was voted the #7 Top Course in the U.S. by Golf Advisor in 2018.
When you arrive at this course, the western-style clubhouse will take you back to an era of rough and tumble cowboys. And that’s exactly how it’s meant to be here.
Once you’re out on the course, you won’t see any houses or signs of human development other than a perfectly manicured golf course.
Set in the wetlands of the Jackson Lake area, you might want to bring an extra sleeve of balls out for this round. Trouble abounds.
The amenities here aren’t those of the fancy resorts and country clubs some people prefer. However, the charm of The Wilderness lies in its quality and simplicity. That’s how they like it. And trust me, everything here is top-notch.
The Resort Course at La Cantera
The resort at La Cantera is something else. Located in San Antonio, there are 36 holes of championship golf. While the Palmer Course is a treat to play, the Resort Course is arguably the better of the two.
Home to a PGA Tour event for some 15 years, this track is demanding all the way around. Narrow fairways are bordered by wastelands full of prickly plants I can’t name, and you surely don’t want to venture into.
The green complexes are big and undulating. Be prepared for some long putts that require creativity.
Aside from the golf, the accommodations and amenities are to die for. This is a spot you can bring the family and not be bored. Just be sure to make some time for yourself on the golf course.
Tempest Golf Club
Tempest Golf Club is my personal favorite public golf course in East Texas. The feedback I received seems to match.
Rated the “#2 Golf Course in the State”, this course, which opened in 2018, has exceeded everyone’s expectations and then some.
Here, generous fairways appear to give you plenty of room off the tee. While that holds true, elevation changes and undulations make for some challenging lies.
Once you get to the green, don’t rest easy as the surfaces are quick and tough to read.
Even though the club is proud of its private membership, they welcome the public with open arms.
If you find yourself anywhere near the town of Gladewater, carve out some time for a round at this gem.
The Links at Land’s End
I’ve spent a good amount of time bass fishing on Lake Fork. What I haven’t done is play The Links at Land’s End. I’ve heard nothing but good things though.
As this course’s name would suggest, the layout is literally surrounded by water. In fact, water comes into play in 12 out the 18 holes.
Verdant fairways, white sand bunkers, and unbelievable views are what make this course so special.
While length off the tee is always an advantage, it’s not the end-all-be-all out here. Instead, keeping the ball in play is the key to scoring well.
Locals call the greens some of the best in the state and I have no reason to doubt them.
Only a short drive from Dallas, the Links at Land’s End is easily accessible and well worth the drive.
The Rawls Course at Texas Tech
I’m still not quite sure what a Red Raider is, but I know there’s a lot of them in Lubbock, the home of Texas Tech University.
Opened in 2003, this Tom Doak design is a masterpiece of golf architecture. Even though this track lacks a lot of trees, you don’t want to miss the fairway as the native fescue isn’t much fun to play from.
With that being said, the ball goes a long way here. The elevation is over 3,200 feet. Make sure you hit a few balls and dial in yardages before you put a peg in the ground.
My favorite hole is the signature par five 18th. A 4.5-acre lake guards this hole from the fairway all the way to the green. If you choose to go for the green in two after a good drive, you’d better have your Big Boy pants on. With the lake on the right and expansive bunkers short, this green is well protected to say the least. Should you happen to pull it off, it’s the stuff legends are made of – at least with the guys in your group.
Cowboys Golf Club
If there’s one thing people are more religious about than religion in the Lonestar State, it’s football. Specifically, the Dallas Cowboys.
That’s why it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the city of Grapevine is home to the only NFL-themed golf course in the country.
At Cowboys Golf Club, they don’t root for anyone else. In fact, you’ll be reminded of the league’s most beloved team around every turn.
The golf course is everything you’d expect too. From the first tee to the 18th green, you’ll find yourself immersed in a fun challenge that has plenty of risk and reward.
Make sure to stick around for a bite to eat and libation when you’re done.
And by the way, if you plan on playing here on Sunday before a home game, I suggest you make your tee time now.
Delaware Springs Golf Course
If you’re looking for a great round at an affordable price, look no further than Delaware Springs.
A classic Texas hill country design, this course will test you off the tee. Narrow fairways, water hazards, and fairway bunkers place a premium on accuracy.
Once you get to the green, make sure you know where the pin is. If you get short-sided or above the hole, the fun has only begun.
The amenities here are nothing special, but more than serve their purpose.
A great value and quality round that quietly exceeds expectations.
Kissing Tree Golf Club
I wish I had a romantic story to share about Kissing Tree Golf Club, but I don’t. What I can tell you is that it’s one of the most underrated layouts in hill country.
Located in the town of San Marcos and opened in 2018, Kissing Tree works with the land, not against it.
Here, uneven lies and elevation changes reign supreme. If it’s your first time around, I’d suggest taking conservative clubs and sight lines from the tee. While you might be tempted to cut some corners, don’t do it. I know from experience.
Taking that into account, the golf course is in front of you. There aren’t too many guesses about where you’re supposed to go next.
And at $45 for 18 holes, I’m playing here every chance I get.
Still in its infancy, my guess is that Kissing Tree will only continue to gain popularity. There’s no reason it shouldn’t.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Texas, both driving and playing golf. But the truth is, I haven’t even scratched the surface. What I can tell you is that great golf is plentiful, football is like religion, and the people are some of the nicest you’ll ever meet.
While I don’t have any ex’s that live in Texas like George Strait sings about, there’s no doubt I’ll be back soon. If you have suggestions or thoughts about where our readers should play on their visit, leave us a like and comment below. So long for now, Cowboy.