11 of Texas’ best exclusive golf courses that you’ll probably never play

Texas

Texas has a fine selection of private golf courses worth adding to your bucket list.

Unfortunately, most of the general public will never get to play many of them – although some might be easier to play than others.

In most instances, though, you will need to either be a club member or their guest to play these amazing layouts

11 The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch

This exceptional course is known for its cascading water elements, difficult play, and amazing 25-mile views of the Guadalupe River Valley.

Encircling the 7,450-yard course that winds through the valley filled with oak trees below is a series of hilltops that make up the golf community’s boundary. Velvet greens and emerald fairways flow between organic limestone gorges.

With a 780-acre expanse to work with, Nicklaus created a brilliant routing that both preserves and enhances the native grasses that are so distinctive to this part of Texas, while also embracing and capturing the natural splendour of the Hill Country.

10 The Club at Carlton Woods Nicklaus Course

When the Carlton Woods Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course was opened in 2001, it received immediate acclaim and garnered rave reviews.

The expansive teeing grounds and landing areas loop around lakes and parklands, and the greens have an interesting design of undulation and bunkering, all specially designed by Jack Nicklaus.

Golf Digest ranked the Nicklaus course as the No.3 Best New Private Course in the United States and the “Best New Private Course in Texas” when it first opened for play. In his distinguished career, Jack Nicklaus ranked his course at Carlton Woods one of the Top 18 Course Designs he created.

9 Austin Golf Club

For a private facility Austin Golf Club is surprisingly spartan in its setup with no golfing estate surrounding the course and also not much to speak of in the way of a clubhouse. This course is about the pure golfing experience, not the frills.

Laid out across Texas Hill Country terrain, this course is characterised by an abundance of live oaks, cacti, native grasses and scrubland, with its modest clubhouse sited at the highest point on the property.

Changes in elevation, clever bunkering and variations in green size all add challenging elements to a stunning Texas parkland course.

8 Trinity Forest Golf Club

Less quintessentially Texas but loaded with golfing charm as it pays tribute to the great British and Irish layouts with a links-style course on a rolling meadow with tall native grasses and dramatic bunkering and green complexes.

A classic Crenshaw-Coore design the course itself will provide a challenge for even the best players from the tips.

Bill Coore compared this layout to Pinehurst No 2 and while we won’t sign off on that completely, the designer does know best.

In typical links fashion, this is a thinking golfer’s course with plenty of creative obstacles despite a lack of any great tree growth on the course itself.

7 Spanish Oaks Golf Club

Spanish Oaks, which also debuted to high praise as one of the greatest private courses in the United States and for its sensitive use of the land, is a superb example of the ground-breaking designs of Bobby Weed, the former architect of the PGA Tour.

The course makes use of reclaimed water and its design helped the native grasses of the area rebound after years of erosion had left the landscape stark.

Weed’s design takes advantage of the hills that cover the property and have made this a challenging but enjoyable course through a beautiful landscape.

6 Brook Hollow Golf Club

Constructed over what was once undulating, open country, the verdant acres of the Brook Hollow course are regrettably encircled by urban growth on every side as a result of Dallas’s unstoppable westward expansion.

Even though Brook Hollow is surrounded by new housing that moves at an unrelenting pace, this traditional parkland layout is nevertheless a haven of tranquillity inside its boundaries – a true haven for golfers seeking to escape the activity of the outside world.

Ben Hogan and other shot-makers have long savoured this course since it only has two straight holes on the scorecard apart from the collection of par threes.

5 Colonial Country Club

Marvin Leonard, a self-taught golfer whose interests extend well beyond the fairway, created Colonial Country Club in 1936. Leonard researched every facet of the game, from the design of the courses, down to the individual grass blades and sand grains.

Motivated by perfection, Leonard set out to design his own championship- and club-level course that would test and motivate players of all skill levels.

Gil Hanse began meticulously renovating the historic site in 2023 and offers a demanding yet deeply enjoyable golfing experience that is sure to inspire admiration.

4 Preston Trail Golf Club

Preston Trail Golf Club may raise a few eyebrows being this high on a list given its reputation among golfers is mixed. Notable criticisms are that the club is stuffy and the course conditioning doesn’t always match its reputation for excellence.

However, the course has been a strong favourite with golfing media and features in virtually every top ten list that covers the state of Texas.

The course’s best feature, White Rock Creek, crosses the property and is brought into play during a round several times, but most notably at the 422-yard 7th, which doglegs to the right, along the edge of the stream itself.

3 Bluejack National

Featuring the first and only private Tiger Woods-designed golf course in the United States, the world-renowned Bluejack National golf course features one cut of velvety Zoysia grass and is challenging but playable for every skill level of golfer.

With ample space at the front to encourage the ground game, the majority of the new TifEagle greens are lie-of-the-land designs rather than elevated platforms hidden behind sand barriers.

In addition to offering golfers intriguing short-game alternatives – such as the ability to play the bump-and-run shot – large, closely-mown green surrounds also generally lack fairway rough, which gives players recovery options and quickens play.

This course might be the best in Texas for mid to high handicappers.

2 Dallas National Golf Club

Tom Fazio said: “If Dallas National were the only course I ever designed, I feel I would have had a great career.”

The course is stunning and thrilling, set in a limestone canyon that plunges down and across ravines to higher plateaux landing sites.

The naturally flawless conditioning, expansive views over Dallas, and the lack of any housing on course makes for a delightful difference and a true sense of retreat.

Sadly the great course is largely kept under lock and key with the club having a particularly restrictive visitors policy.

1 Whispering Pines Golf Club

Whispering Pines is consistently ranked as the best course in the Dallas region by the local media, and the club’s dedicated staff is responsible for its immaculate condition, which is further enhanced by the fact that it is closed for play for half the year.

A modest membership at the club ensures that the course maintains its condition brilliantly and that exclusivity is what those members are willing to fork over their hard-earned dollars to play.

The 400-acre property housing Whispering Pines course is surrounded by lakes and winding rivers. Chet Williams oversaw the Nicklaus design project, and he made excellent use of the land’s natural contours, particularly on the last six holes that play along to Lake Livingston and Caney Creek.

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