Now that college football season is underway, that doesn’t mean the clubs have to go away – far from it. Many Texas colleges and universities have superb golf just minutes from the stadium.
So, pack the clubs alongside the portable grills and other tailgate goodies, and tee it up at these courses before the big game.
The capital city is known for so many things that sometimes its excellent golf scene gets overlooked. That’s hard to fathom, especially with the likes of Barton Creek, Grey Rock and Wolfdancer in the area. Tee times will be a premium on game day weekends at those courses and at the University of Texas Golf Club, a private club where big money donors and the powerhouse Longhorn golf teams play.
Who knew that the mighty Brazos River would be a fertile ground for not one, but two college football juggernauts? In Waco, Baylor fans arriving early to see their nationally ranked Bears can tee it up at Twin Rivers Golf Club, a Peter Jacobsen/Jim Hardy design that is home to the school’s golf teams. Down Highway 6 in the Bryan/College Station area, the Aggie faithful are coming in droves to not only see how Texas A&M fares in the Southeastern Conference, but also to check out the revamped Kyle Field. For golf in and around Aggieland, our pick is Traditions Club. While Traditions is private, there are ways for the public to play there – most notably, staying in the Cottages just steps from the clubhouse. And next year, Traditions Club visitors can stay at the Stella Hotel, a stylish and modern hotel that will offer exceptional amenities.
The Metroplex is home to three major college football teams – North Texas, Southern Methodist and Texas Christian – and will be the site of many high-profile games, thanks mostly to TCU’s expected national championship run. Thankfully, there is no dearth of exceptional golf options in DFW. Those headed to Denton to see the North Texas Mean Green should play Old American Golf Club, on the shores of Lake Lewisville. Close to the SMU campus are two municipal courses – Tenison Park and Stevens Park – while those in Fort Worth wanting to mix fairways with football should make a tee time at either Texas Star in Euless or Tierra Verde in Arlington.
The desert setting makes trips to El Paso – and specifically to the Sun Bowl to see the UTEP Miners play – a treat. It also makes golf in far West Texas feel like Arizona golf, with desert scrub lining most fairways. The top course in El Paso is Butterfield Trail, a Tom Fazio design near the airport that ranks among the best layouts in Texas. Another attractive golf option is Painted Dunes Desert, which sports 27 holes designed by Ken Dye and Jeff Brauer.
Both the Houston Cougars and Rice Owls should generate a lot of excitement this season. Golfwise, the buzz in the Houston area usually centers on Memorial Park, a splendid layout in the heart of town that features a running trail forming its perimeter and Beck’s Prime restaurant right of the 10th fairway. Further away from the U of H and Rice campuses – but worth the drive – is The Golf Club of Houston, site of the PGA Tour’s Shell Houston Open. Everyone likes to play where the pros play.
Perhaps just as electric as the Texas Tech Red Raider offense is the golf experience on the Rawls Course. Designed by noted architect Tom Doak, the Rawls Course mimics land south and east of town, where the Great Plains suddenly begin falling into the valleys and canyons that lead to the Caprock region. The course has been a great recruiting tool for the Red Raider golf teams, and is a must-play whenever in Lubbock.
Texas Hill Country
Both San Antonio and San Marcos are home to two upstart FBS teams (University of Texas-San Antonio and Texas State) who also are developing a heated rivalry along the Interstate 35 corridor. What both alumni bases can agree upon, though, is that the Hill Country boasts the best golf courses in Texas. San Antonio has plenty of options within the city limits such as La Cantera (featured in our Road Trip article), TPC San Antonio and Brackenridge Park, and some noteworthy outlying layouts like The Bandit and Plum Creek, which are also near San Marcos. And, if you happen to score an invite to the highly acclaimed Clubs of Cordillera Ranch, jump on it. The Jack Nicklaus Signature layout in Boerne boasts one of the most beautiful par 3s in the state.