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This was the most-read women’s golf instruction story of the year


instructor demonstrating posture, grip and alignment

This women’s golf tip on the importance of posture, grip and alignment was the year’s most read.

Edie Wessel

Here at GOLF.com, helping you improve your game is one of our greatest priorities. And that’s why we try to get as specific as possible when it comes to the issues you face on the course.

Every Tuesday, we feature instruction especially for women, by our talented roster of female teachers. The tip below by Edie Wessel was published in September, and ended up being our most-read piece of women’s golf instruction in 2021. Here’s hoping it can help you enjoy the game even more in the coming year.

So cheers to more — and better! — golf in 2022. And make sure to stay tuned to GOLF.com (and our hub for everything related to the women’s game) for everything you need, from the latest tour news and features to instruction, equipment, apparel and more.

***

Those of us who play golf know we can get very analytical with our swings. The more we delve into the intricacies of it, the more complicated the swing becomes. Whether you play competitive or recreational golf, the more analytical you become, the worse you seem to play.

So, using the acronym P.G.A. — Posture, Grip, and Alignment, let’s get back to the basics. Remember, the basics of the golf swing are like the foundation of a house. If the concrete is not poured properly and the foundation has flaws, there will be problems in the structure and integrity of the house. The golf swing is no different. Without sound fundamentals, things will crumble quickly. 

Back to the basics 

As in any sport, posture is extremely important in golf. The correct address position provides the ability to turn the body and swing the club. While some people have physical limitations that can make the golf swing difficult, most players can set up to the golf ball in an athletic position. Your feet should be shoulder width apart, you need to tilt at the hips and gently flex your knees. Your arms should hang down loosely. 

Edie Wessel

As shown in the photo above, the spine should remain relatively straight, not too arched or rounded.  

Grip the club loosely in your fingers. For the right-handed golfer, your left hand should be placed so the “V” formed between your thumb and the index finger points toward your right shoulder. As the photo below shows, your right hand should gently fit below the left hand with the “V” also pointing to the right shoulder. For the left-handed golfer, the “Vs” should be pointing toward your left shoulder.

Edie Wessel

Alignment is one of the more challenging parts of golf, especially since every shot angle can be different. However, if you keep your alignment consistent on full shots, you will be more successful. Visualize railroad tracks.  One track is the target line where you want the ball to travel. The other line, parallel to the target line, is the line to which you align your body.  As shown in the photo below, your feet, hips and shoulders should be in line with each other and parallel to your target line.  

Edie Wessel

The beauty of golf is it is a sport for a lifetime. Whether you have been playing for 50 years or are just starting, keep it simple and remember the acronym: P.G.A.— POSTURE, GRIP, and Alignment

Edie Wessel, PGA, is the teaching professional at The Silverleaf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. 

To add more pop to your swing, get a driver fitting from the experts at 8AM Golf affiliate True Spec Golf.

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6 amazing bucket-list golf destinations, explained


Sand Valley golf resort in wisconsin

A view of Sand Valley Golf Resort in Wisconsin.

Evan Schiller

Welcome to GOLF’s Travel Mailbag, a series in which members of our staff field your course- and travel-related queries. Have a question for a future mailbag? Tweet us at @golf_com.

Which mega golf resort is right for me?

Per usual, a ton of our most recent batch of questions asked about golf’s mega resorts. The best time to go to Bandon? Cabot vs. Sand Valley? Pinehurst vs. Bandon? What resorts should I go to? These types of questions come in a lot. But without knowing all the relevant details — your budget, your schedule, the makeup of your group, your appetite for airport security lines, and so forth — it’s tough to narrow a response to a single suggestion. So we figured we’d create this handy explainer about the six resorts we receive the most questions about: Bandon Dunes, Cabot Links, Destination Kohler, Pinehurst, Sand Valley and Streamsong. Here’s hoping these details help clarify your thinking. Now the tough part: deciding where to go.

And if you’re looking for even more information on potential destinations, check out GOLF’s Top 100 Resorts page here.

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort (Bandon, Ore.)

How to get there: The closest commercial airport is in North Bend, about 30 minutes from the resort. But another popular option is to fly into Eugene. It’s a longer drive from there to Bandon (about 2 1/2 hours), but it’s also a bigger airport, with a far greater number of flights. Same goes for Portland, which is about a 4 1/2-hour drive.

Courses: Five 18-hole courses; one 13-hole par-3 course; and a 100,000-square foot putting course.

Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.

Getty Images

Restaurants: Five on site, ranging from refined to casual grab-and-go.

Why you should go: No destination in the modern era has done more to change the image of American golf than Bandon Dunes, where Mike Keiser proved that if you built it, they would come, provided that you built it really well. Nor does any property on the planet have a greater concentration of Top 100 Courses. Part of the fun of a trip to Bandon is weighing in on the requisite debate over which of the 18-holers reigns supreme — Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, Old MacDonald, or Sheep Ranch. You may even decide that the 13-hole Preserve is the one you love the best.

Insider’s tip: Like many top resorts, Bandon has been jam-packed of late. But even when every room is taken, slots are sometimes open on the tee sheet. In other words, you might still be able to book golf, with the option of renting a house nearby.

More: Visit the resort website here.

How to get there: The closest commercial airport is in Halifax, just under a four-hour drive from the resort.

Courses: Two 18-holes courses and a 10-hole par-3 course.

The par-3 16th at Cabot Cliffs.

Christian Hafer

Restaurants: Three dining options on property: a pub, a bar and a refined restaurant overlooking the water.

Why you should go: Tucked along the coast of a sleepy fishing village, Cabot offers great golf with a vivid sense of place. Both its 18-hole courses, Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs, are on GOLF’s list of Top 100 Courses in the World, though they offer something of a study in contrasts. Where Links is a layout of understated grace, Cliffs lives up to its billing with the eye-popping drama of holes etched atop towering seaside bluffs. Together, they rank among the finest one-two punches anywhere.

Insider’s tip: You’ve come this far. Go a little bit farther, taking an extra day to visit Highland Links, a public-access bucket-lister by Stanley Thompson, Canada’s Alister Mackenzie, a giant of Golden Age design. It’s about a 2 1/2-hour drive from Cabot, and the scenery alone is worth the trip.

More: Visit the resort website here.

Destination Kohler (Kohler, Wis.)

How to get there: The closest commercial airport is Milwaukee, about an hour from the resort, though many travelers also fly into Chicago’s O’Hare, which is just under 2 1/2 hours away.

Courses: Four 18-hole courses, a 10-hole par-3 course, and a two-acre putting course.

The Baths par-3 course opened this year at Destination Kohler.

Destination Kohler

Restaurants: Eleven, with varied menu styles and settings.

Why you should go: You’ve seen it on TV, most recently at this year’s Ryder Cup. But Whistling Straits is even more spectacular in person, a wild work of artistry and engineering by Pete Dye, stretched along a once-flat expanse of Lake Michigan shoreline. Its three 18-hole siblings — the Irish Course, and the River and Meadow Valleys at Blackwolf Run — are also Dye designs and dramatic and demanding as well. But you’ll also want to make time for the Baths, a par-3 course that plays nicely with a few clubs in one hand and a cold drink in the other.

Insider’s tip: The Kohler Swing Studio bar. For guests staying at the Inn on Woodlake, the Kohler Swing Studio Bar is a perfect spot to finish out the day with a beverage overlooking the lake or while smacking shots on Topgolf simulators. Great fun with a group.

More: Visit the resort website here.

Pinehurst Resort (Pinehurst, N.C.)

How to get there: The closest commercial airport is in Raleigh-Durham, roughly a 90-minute drive from the resort. Charlotte is also just two hours away.

Courses: Nine 18-hole courses, a par-3 course and a putting course.

An aerial view of Pinehurst No. 4.

Christian Hafer

Restaurants: Nine on property, ranging from white-tablecloth dining to a casual brewpub and barbecue joint.

Why you should go: For many travelers, the number-one reason is No. 2, the Donald Ross masterpiece and resort centerpiece that has hosted more elite championships than any course in the United States. History runs deep here. But to say the past is ever-present doesn’t mean the property is trapped in amber. Updates and fresh additions abound, from the Gil Hanse redesign of Pinehurst No. 4 to the opening of The Cradle, a nifty par-3 course, and a putting course called Thistle Dhu. Maybe more than any resort in the country, Pinehurst strikes a balance between sepia-toned tradition and currents of contemporary cool.

Insider’s tip: Whether you snag a tee time at No. 2 or not, carve out an hour to have a drink or bite on the massive porch of The Deuce, which overlooks the 18th green of No. 2. It’s the perfect gathering spot to unwind, recap your round and watch the poor souls try to get up and down to save par.

More: Visit the resort website here.

Sand Valley Golf Resort (Nekoosa, Wis.)

How to get there: Most travelers from outside the region fly into Chicago, Milwaukee or Minneapolis. Of those, Milwaukee is closest (about 2 1/2hours) and Chicago is the farthest (about four hours). The drive from Minneapolis is about three hours.

Courses: Two 18-hole courses and a 17-hole par-3 course.

An aerial view of Sand Valley in Wisconsin.

Christian Hafer

Restaurants: Four options on property, ranging from farm-to-table fine dining to a food truck, which parks by the Sandbox, the par-3 course.

Why you should go: Picture Bandon Dunes, relocated to the Badger State. Sure, Sand Valley has no ocean, and fewer golf holes. But the Keiser family owns it, and its courses, designed, respectively, by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, and David McLay Kidd (all of whom also worked at Bandon), reflect a similar modern-minimalist aesthetic, with emphasis on creative ground-game fun.

Insider’s tip: In addition to its courses, Sand Valley has 15 grass tennis courts, miles of hiking and fat-tire biking trails, and complimentary strength and stretching classes. It also has a culinary garden, a key component of the resort’s first-rate food and beverage program.

More: Visit the resort website here.

Streamsong Resort (Bowling Green, Fla.)

How to get there: The resort is roughly equidistant from the Tampa and Orlando airports. It’s about a 90-minute drive from each.

Courses: Three 18-hole courses, a 7-hole short course and a 1.2-acre putting course.

The Red Course at Streamsong.

Courtesy of Streamsong Resort

Restaurants: Four on property, plus three bars and lounges.

Why you should go: Conjure every stereotype of Florida golf — flat, lush, water-laden — and then imagine the opposite. Set amid the heaving dunes of a former phosphate mine, Streamsong offers the kind of rollicking golf that fans have come to expect from Gil Hanse, Tom Doak, and the duo of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the architects, respectively, behind the Black, Blue and Red Courses here. In keeping with its style of golf, the resort requires that you take a caddie and highly recommends that you walk, though carts are also available.

Insider’s tip: Can’t find the fairways? The resort has other target-based activities, including archery and sporting clays.

More: Visit the resort website here.

Need help unriddling the greens at your home course? Pick up a custom Green Book from 8AM Golf affiliate GolfLogix.

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Golf.com

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.



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Undercover Caddie: A longtime resort looper’s friendly advice for all golfers | Golf News and Tour Information




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Expats: British buyers return to Spain ‘looking for golf properties’ | Travel News | Travel


Marc Pritchard is the sales and marketing director at Taylor Wimpey España and he told Express.co.uk that UK sales are on the rise again after Covid. Taylor Wimpey España sells properties across Spain including in the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca.

Pritchard told Express.co.uk: “UK buyers are clearly returning to Spain, based on our leads and sales figures.

“They led sales in October, buying more homes than any other nationality, and November has started strongly too.”

Although gaining Spanish residency has become more difficult after Brexit, many Britons are still looking to purchase second homes.

As British people can stay in Spain for 90 out of every 180 days, second home owners will still be able to spend several months a year at their property after Brexit.

READ MORE: British expat town in France sees drop in numbers – ‘rollercoaster’

Pritchard said: “In particular we’ve found UK buyers are seeking properties in the Costa del Sol, in a price bracket of €300,000 to €500,000 (£251,727- £419,545).

“We’ve seen an uptick in purchases along the Costa Blanca and on Mallorca too.”

Popular expat areas in the Costa del Sol include Fuengirola, Calahonda, Marbella and Estepona.

Recently, British expats have also been opting for hillside properties in towns such as Benahavis and Mijas.

DON’T MISS

British expats searching for a place in the Costa Blanca region often opt for the area around the popular tourist locations of Benidorm and Alicante.

Properties on the beautiful island of Mallorca are also growing in popularity with expats opting for easy beach access.

Pritchard told Express.co.uk that one particular type of property is extremely popular with British buyers.

He said: “Many Brits are looking for golf properties, with their extensive greenery and spacious surroundings.

“I think knowing that nothing will be built in front of you, as you are on a golf course, is a key part of the appeal, along with the picturesque, well maintained outlook.”

Golf properties have also soared in popularity in the sunny Spanish region of Murcia with Britons seeking great views.

The Costa del Sol is often known as the Costa del Golf due to the multiple golf courses along the coastline.

Gold properties normally come with an expansive terrace offering spectacular views of the golf course and beach.

Pritchard added: “We’ve also seen more British clients looking for properties in the €500,000+ (£419,00) price bracket recently, as these properties enable buyers to apply for a Spanish golden visa.”

A Spanish golden visa allows expats to gain residency in Spain if they invest in the country, which can include buying property.

Pritchard told Express.co.uk: “We’ve seen many more buyers from the UK take an interest in golden visas since freedom of movement was curtailed.

“Those with a golden visa can enjoy unrestricted access to Spain for as many days per year as they wish, just as they did prior to Brexit.”





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Golf tip of the week: Elevate the left shoulder to initiate the downswing | News, Sports, Jobs



Look at a golf magazine and compare the left shoulder position at setup and at impact.

The left shoulder should be higher at impact than it was at the address position, allowing the left shoulder to initiate the downswing forces the left hip to move out of the way automatically.

The shoulders are the primary sights on the body and determine the direction the ball will travel. The body should return to the address position in motion at impact, with the left shoulder higher and the hips more open, creating a free swing.

The shoulders move around the spine as a wheel moves around an axle.

There are two choices in which to move the wheel: Force the right shoulder downward or move the left shoulder upward. The latter works best.

For most golfers pushing the right shoulder downward will create a fat shot.

Don’t forget to enjoy this great game called golf.

Rick Musselman, a golf author and professional, owns Musselman’s Golf in Williamsport.



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Brandel Chamblee has plans for a women’s-first tournament golf course


Augustin Piza and Brandel Chamblee stand in tall grass at the Butterfly Effect / Desertica project

Brandel Chamblee, left, and his design partner, Agustin Pizá.

Pizá Golf

Picture a course that would double as a home for the finest women golfers in the world, a state-of-the-art facility that would be to the LPGA Tour what TPC Sawgrass is to the PGA Tour.

Like Sawgrass, it would be open to the public for a high-end fee. It would also host a marquee annual event, a Players Championship, of sorts, that would showcase the talents of top female players in ways never seen before, because, for the first time, every inch of the grounds would be designed specifically with their games in mind.

Sound good?

It does to Brandel Chamblee.

So much so, the Tour pro-turned broadcaster-turned-course architect tells GOLF.com, that he has set in motion plans for precisely such a place. The location, he says, would be Harlingen, Texas, a growing area in the southern tip of the state, just over the Mexico border.

Chamblee and Pizá’s course would sit on a parcel next to Treasure Hills GC, in Harlingen, Texas.

google earth

Chamblee says that city officials in Harlingen are on board with the idea. He says he has also discussed the project with LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan, and that she sounded “excited” by it.

An LPGA representative told GOLF.com that it was “too early to share a response.”

Though the concept has yet to take full shape, Chamblee says that construction could begin within the next six months and be completed within the next two years. The design would be a collaboration between Chamblee and the Mexican-born architect Agustín Pizá, Chamblee’s partner in a newly formed design firm.

Chamblee and Pizá have already been hired for another project in Harlingen, the redesign of a course called Treasure Hills Golf Club. Chamblee says that the women’s course would be financed by the same real estate firm behind Treasure Hills, and that it would sit on a neighboring parcel, within the same development.

“We are still in the early stages of defining shot values and specifics,” Piza says. “But we guarantee, [the course] will offer a carousel of emotions for the best women golfers in the world.”

Piza (foreground) and Chamblee on site at another of their collaborations, in Desertica, Mexico.

Pizá Golf

Having worked on more than 50 projects on three continents, Pizá says that he had long been aware that most courses gave low priority to the women’s game, but that he’d “never made a real analysis of it” until he listened closely to Chamblee.

For the better part of a decade, in print, on air and in the Twittersphere, Chamblee has been vocal on the issue, calling out what he regards as problematic designs and setups for women.

In nearly every respect — hole length, fairway width, rough height, bunker depth, and on — he believes the venues are poorly suited to their purpose. Far from bringing out the best in women’s games, they often place women at a disadvantage.

As far back as 2012, Chamblee put a fine point on this perspective in a GOLF Magazine column that compared scoring averages on the LPGA and PGA tours; season after season, he wrote, with a litany of stats as backup, those scores were higher for the women. In Chamblee’s view, the discrepancy had nothing to do with ability (the women were every bit as skilled as their male counterparts; they just weren’t as strong) and everything to do with the courses they were playing.


gil hanse holding a course map

Walk a golf course with designer Gil Hanse and you’ll see the game differently

By:


Michael Bamberger



This imbalance had ripple effects, Chamblee argued, producing higher scores but also lower ratings.

“In a world of short attention spans and ever-decreasing space in the newspapers, all sports compete with one another for an audience,” he wrote. “Scoreboards should bleed red to garner the most interest and the LPGA has applied a tourniquet in the way of courses that are set up too hard.”

In the 10 years since that piece appeared, what has changed in Chamblee’s eyes is pretty much nothing. The women still post higher average scores than the men while playing courses too long for their games. Current LPGA setups average around 6,400 yards. Extrapolating from shot data, Chamblee says, that yardage should be closer to 6,100.

Distance alone, though, is not the only issue. The crux of the problem, Chamblee says, is that courses are designed for men from the start, with after-thought adjustments to accommodate women. Pushing the tees forward is a standard tactic. But, Chamblee says, that’s not a real solution. If anything, it sets off a negative chain reaction, creating layouts with awkward landing areas, odd angles into greens, hazards placed in spots that dim strategic options. You get the gist.

Every aspect of the design would pull from available performance data, such as average driving distances, shot trajectories and dispersion patterns.

The cumulative effect is to prevent women from going lower while robbing them of chances to dazzle crowds with their shot-making skills and derring-do. It’s tough to look heroic on a lay-up par-5, or to make a ball dance around the cup when you’re hitting your approach with a hybrid and not a wedge, as elite women players are so often required to do.

As a recent illustration of this theme, Chamblee points to the 2021 Augusta National Women’s Amateur, not an LPGA event but still an elite competition. On the 18th hole of the final day, two of the top three finishers, Karen Fredgaard and eventual winner Tsubasa Kajitani, found the first fairway bunker on the left off the tee. Fredgaard caught the lip on her approach and failed to reach the green, while Kajitani didn’t even try to get on in regulation. She laid up.

Contrast that with an iconic moment from the Masters.

“Most of us have little trouble conjuring the memory of Sandy Lyle flipping a 7-iron from that same bunker to 10 feet and making birdie to win the green jacket,” Chamblee says. “Is that because Sandy Lyle is more skilled than the best women players in the world? No. It’s because he’s stronger and can get the ball up higher and faster with a more lofted club.”

The course Chamblee envisions would, in essence, aim to level the playing field. Though he and Pizá have yet to draft a detailed blueprint, Chamblee says that he can picture the concept clearly. From the tournament tees, the course would stretch roughly 6,200 yards, with room for lengthening in the future (like the men’s game, the women’s game is ever evolving). Every aspect of the design would pull from available performance data, such as average driving distances, shot trajectories and dispersion patterns.


brandel chamblee sophia popov

If Brandel Chamblee were PGA Tour Commissioner, he’d change this rule first

By:


Dylan Dethier



“That means bunkers at appropriate yardages, appropriate width across the fairways, appropriate height of rough, and so forth,” Chamblee says. “We want approaches that allow the women to get the ball out on the green and spinning, providing the same excitement that the men provide.”

Among the goals would be to offer risk-rewards that he says are often missing in current LPGA setups, with drivable par-4s and reachable par-5s generating similar thrills to those produced by electrifying holes such as the 12th at Sawgrass and the 13th at Augusta.

Not that the course would be for women only. Its dimensions, Chamblee says, would also be well-suited to recreational male players, most of whom hit the ball no farther (and often shorter) than top women players. He wants a busy tee sheet for year-round public play.

Chamblee is aware that some critics may accuse him and Pizá of the architectural equivalent of “mansplaining” — just a couple of guys imposing their view of how things ought to be. But women, Chamblee says, will be involved in the project, too. One of Pizá’s longtime design partners is a woman named Avril Ortiz. She’ll have input. Chamblee says that a former LPGA star and World Golf Hall of Famer has also agreed to be involved, but that it’s too early to divulge her name.

Though courses for women have been built before, including a short-lived nine-holer at Shinnecock Hills that opened for play in 1893, male-female collaborations have been scarce outside of the husband-wife tandem of Pete and Alice Dye. One of the rare examples in the modern era is Amy Alcott’s involvement with Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner on the widely acclaimed Olympic Course in Rio de Janeiro, host site for the men’s and women’s competition in the 2016 Summer Games.

“This is the age of consideration, and it certainly feels like a time for women’s golf.”

Amy Alcott

Alcott says that Chamblee is spot-on with his analyses, and that broader social and cultural shifts have made the moment ripe for change.

“This is the age of consideration, and it certainly feels like a time for women’s golf,” Alcott says. “It’s an idea I’ve been trying to get out there — that if you just throw tees out there and call them women’s tees, your course is going to be poorer for it. But beyond that, think about it from a marketing standpoint, and the ways that courses, especially resorts, are missing out.”

The Texas project, should it come to pass, would not be Chamblee and Pizá’s first crack at a course for women. Their maiden collaboration, called “The Butterfly Effect,” now underway in Desertica, Mexico, is a 24-hole resort layout composed of four six-hole loops, one of which has been designed specifically for women.

“We’re getting some good experience,” Chamblee says.

Chamblee hopes that the Texas course will inspire top women players to relocate to Harlingen, in the same way that many members of the PGA Tour have gravitated to the area around Ponte Vedra, Fla. He wants to attract emergent talent, too. To that end, Chamblee says that he envisions an elite junior golf school on the site, a kind of national academy, akin to what exists for girls in Sweden and South Korea.

He and Pizá are dreaming big.

Some things still need to fall in place for all this to happen. But Chamblee is bullish on the prospects, and, he says, he and Pizá intend to move forward with the design whether or not the LPGA gets behind it.

Beyond that, he adds, “We will continue to push for an LPGA event there indefinitely.”

A better fit for women, better late than never.

“The whole idea is to make a positive contribution to the women’s game,” Chamblee says. “I think this would be a good start in that direction.”

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Golf.com

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.



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The Best Public Golf Courses in Texas – Texas Monthly


It was right around the turn of the twentieth century that Texas discovered oil—and golf. The gushing wealth created by the former helped spread the “Royal and Ancient Game,” as the state’s golf association described it in its founding 1906 mission statement. What began in the private, linen-suited confines of country clubs in Beaumont, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Waco, has since grown to more than nine hundred courses, many of them open to the public, and many of those regarded among the best in the country. This list of nine (which will, of course, be updated by next month to include eighteen) represent the best of public golf across Texas. These courses are beautiful representatives of their respective regions, challenging for experienced players, not too daunting for beginners, and all at a great value. For new arrivals to Texas or to golf, and for experienced golfers seeking a fresh adventure, allow us to suggest some of our favorite courses around the state.

BlackHorse Golf Club


Cypress

This 36-hole course is wedged inside the BlackHorse Ranch community, about 35 minutes northwest of downtown Houston. The ample homes that occasionally appear along the fairways give it a country-club feel, as do the steep greens fees for prime tee times. But you get your money’s worth at this beautiful Jacobsen-and-Hardy-designed course that’s an homage to the region’s wetlands. Even better, the choice of six tee boxes makes it accessible to even the humblest duffer.

Start with the more-forgiving North Course. Most of the holes are fairly straightforward. The course opens and closes with broad, rippling fairways that are forgiving, but only up to a point: the long, wispy rough can devour wayward balls.

The South Course makes up for its shorter length—7,191 yards from the tips compared to the North’s 7,301—with a more-demanding layout. Water is a constant companion: seven holes include water features running along most or all of their respective fairways, and a winding creek occasionally comes into play. The sixteenth and seventeenth holes are especially memorable. The former, a short par four, dares big hitters to drive over a beautiful marsh, and the following par three is effectively an island—a wooden bridge just above the waterline takes you from tee box to green. The spectacular wetland landscape provides more than enough consolation for any splashed shots.

The pro shop is well stocked, and Roper’s Grill offers comfortable indoor and outdoor seating where you can enjoy the Big Jake cheeseburger (named after the course designer), or a variety of sandwiches and generously portioned salads, along with beer, cocktails, or wine. —Josh Alvarez

Greens fees: $49 to $145. Fees include practice balls and golf cart.

Best Public Golf Courses in Texas Memorial Park
Memorial Park Golf Course.Josh Alvarez

Memorial Park Golf Course

Houston

Bayou City golfers should count themselves lucky, if not spoiled. It’s rare to have a municipal course that’s fun, meticulously maintained, conveniently located—fewer than six miles west of downtown—and affordable. (Non-Houston residents, by comparison, must surrender their wallets to play.) Don’t bother with the $16 cart fee; this course offers an easy, enjoyable walk, and regular rainfall often means you would have to confine the cart to the paths.

Renowned designer Tom Doak teamed up with four-time major-tournament winner Brooks Koepka to renovate the 85-year-old course, which reopened in 2019. It’s now one of the country’s few PGA-certified munis, and hosts the Houston Open. Mere mortals need not fear: while playing from the tips stretches the course to a whopping 7,432 yards, one tee box down reduces it to a manageable 6,553 yards that are appealing to both scratch golfer and hack alike.

Those who fear the sand will rejoice at seeing fewer than twenty bunkers during the round, but in exchange, players must carefully navigate grass hollows, deep ravines, and thick Bermuda grass that clutches balls when they miss the fairway. Make use of the double-decker driving range to get your iron distances nailed down, because the greens can be unkind to shots that might be serviceable elsewhere. A prime example is the par three number seven, which slopes right to left toward a bunker and front to back toward a ravine. A precise, soft shot to the front allows the ball to release and stop before trouble. After the round, head over to the Becks Prime located on-site and treat yourself to the Bill’s Burger or the bacon cheeseburger, which Texas Monthly ranked a top-ten burger in the state. —Josh Alvarez

Greens fees: $15 to $140.

Brackenridge Park

San Antonio

Brack,” as it’s lovingly known to locals, is regularly listed among the best public courses in the U.S., and for good reason. It’s a treasure, both for its rich history and the challenge it offers at an attractive price. Host of the Texas Open for many decades, the course was designed by the famed architect A. W. Tillinghast, whose resume includes such U.S. Open venues as Baltusrol and Winged Foot. Located just two miles north of the Alamo, Brackenridge opened in 1916 in a sparsely inhabited area where, according to a plaque, construction workers were menaced by “wolves, bears and other critters then native to the area.”

Measuring just 6,200 yards, the course plays longer, thanks to strategic placement of bunkers, trees, doglegs, ponds, and creeks. Many of the greens are narrow, elevated, and guarded by traps, including at the signature eighth, a lovely and wicked 188-yard par three. The greens sometimes suffer from extensive traffic, especially during dry periods. They’re best in the fall, when many San Antonians are drawn away from the links by football and hunting.

The pro shop offers a full range of ammo and armor, plus sandwiches and beer. Golfers can warm up at the Polo Field Golf Center’s driving range just a mile to the north. Many local golfers buy a membership that offers discounts on the city’s eight courses, including Brack. —Dan Goodgame

Greens fees: $24.50 to $62.

Best Public Golf Courses in Texas La Cantera
The Palmer Course at La Cantera.Courtesy La Cantera Resort & Spa

The Palmer Course at La Cantera

San Antonio

One of the most challenging and scenic golf properties in the San Antonio area, the Palmer is consistently ranked as one of the best resort courses in the U.S. Located twenty miles northwest of downtown, it sprawls along a hilly rim that overlooks much of the city. The course features dramatic elevation changes, which pose a special challenge when the wind is up. There are admirably few blind shots—at least if you stay in the fairway, which you need to do here. The rough can be punitive during wet spells or when it’s mowed taller before tournaments. On one such day, my foursome lost a half dozen balls on shots just a couple of yards off the fairway. The greens here are consistently true and are faster than most in the area.

Opened in 2001, the course was designed by the late, great Arnold Palmer, and measures about 6,900 yards from the tips. Beneath its many hills are streams and ponds, some fed by handsome man-made waterfalls, including on the signature fourth and eighteenth holes.

A driving range is available on site, as is a well-stocked pro shop and a handsome full-service restaurant and bar with commanding views of the course. Two great times to visit are in late October and early March, when pulses of monarch butterflies often migrate through the Palmer course on their way to and from their wintering grounds in Mexico. —Dan Goodgame

Greens fees: $59 to $159.

Grapevine Golf Course

Grapevine

In a state with so many fine, and even historic, parkland municipal courses, Grapevine stands out. One reason is that the great Byron Nelson influenced its design. Another is that the 27-hole property sits astride Grapevine Lake, giving the place an aura of intimacy and tranquility, most notably on the Pecan nine, where some holes play under and along the lake’s dam. Grapevine’s holes wander in every direction, and each is unique. A round here is a pleasant expedition, full of surprises and delight.

Grapevine represents, for the most part, a gentle test. That is not to say it’s easy. But it is, in the best sense, simple and sensible. Everything fits. Take the par-four fifth hole on the Pecan nine: 405 yards from an elevated tee, moving right to left toward a vaguely reverse-Redan green. It’s scenic, strategic, and, if you fancy, heroic. And, as on a handful of other holes on the Pecan and Mockingbird nines, you feel that you’re all alone with an alley of oaks. The affordability of the course is a bonus. —Kevin D. Robbins

Greens fees: $19 to $43.

Best Public Golf Courses in Texas The Rawls
The Rawls Course.Courtesy of The Rawls Course at Texas Tech University

The Rawls Course

Lubbock

If a mark of an outstanding golf course is its relationship and fidelity to its elements, The Rawls Course on the Llano Estacado just might be the most Texan course in the state. Designed by Tom Doak and opened in 2003, the acclaimed home course of the Texas Tech golf teams confronts players with two prominent features of northwest Texas: level land and a firing wind.

Doak rearranged more than 1.3 million cubic yards of topsoil to dimple the space with endless bumps and ripples. Tall, wispy grasses thrive in the rough between generous fairways, helping to define them amid the flat landscape. The result is a vexing and invigorating golf experience that summons the seaside links of Scotland. The wind that typically scrapes the High Plains can ratchet up the difficulty of keeping balls in position at Rawls. Low, running shots are the ticket here. The few Afghan pines on the course provide little shade or protection from the wind. There are just enough of them to serve as shot targets. Use them prudently to avoid the course’s rough and its 97 craggy bunkers.

The fourteenth hole, a 506-yard par-four, features a yawning fairway with a deep bunker standing sentry inside the left-to-right bend in the landing zone for tee shots. The approach plays slightly uphill to the most compelling green on Rawls (which is saying something, because they’re all inspiring). The front of the putting surface falls left into a hollow. A modest saddleback in the middle rises to a narrow plateau at the back, with two gaping bunkers on the left, and a generous bailout area on the right. Setting up a birdie putt here of any length is an achievement. And for most golfers, so is a bogey.  —Kevin D. Robbins

Greens fees: $39 to $91.

Rockwood Golf Course

Fort Worth

In 1933, John Bredemus, the mystical, Princeton-educated math professor turned course architect credited with the creation of Fort Worth’s Colonial Country Club, also fashioned eighteen holes along the West Fork of the Trinity River. That course, Rockwood, just five miles north of Colonial, served for decades as a decent municipal for those without the wherewithal to join a private club.

Then, in 2015, the city of Fort Worth paid Colligan Golf Design, which had restored the Brackenridge Park course in San Antonio, more than $5 million to revive Rockwood. Better money was never spent. Rockwood reopened in 2017. Everything was new: tees, greens, fairways, bunkers, and drainage. Yet the new design felt respectful of the old one.

A walk on Rockwood reminds us that an American municipal golf course from the 1930s can use modern technology—improved irrigation, better agronomy, finer sand—and still pay proper homage to its roots. While the bones of the original Rockwood remain strong, the Colligan restoration sharpened subtle play angles, whittled interesting landforms into the broad Rockwood fairways and planted new bunkers in strategic locations.

The tee of the lovely par-three eighth hole takes you to one of the highest points on the property. From there, you see downtown Fort Worth—and the 142 yards from the back tee to a massive green in the shape of an amorphous arrowhead, with a spacious false front just beyond a bunker that looks a lot closer to the green than it really is. The shortest hole at Rockwood, framed beautifully by its three balanced bunkers and two lone trees, is an ode to a time when length wasn’t all that mattered. (Pro tip: don’t leave it short.)

Rockwood is exactly what a classic municipal golf course should be: engaging, modest, seductive, and just plain fun. —Kevin D. Robbins

Greens fees: $11 to $45.

Falconhead Golf Club

Austin

Located on Austin’s fast-growing western edge, just half an hour from downtown, this course offers a challenging but fair Hill Country golf experience. Designed by architects at the PGA Tour Design Center, it takes advantage of the varying elevations found across the area’s natural rolling landscape. Note that there are five sets of tees that can stretch the course to 7,181 yards or shrink it to 5,170, affording a fun experience for players of most all levels.

The second hole, a par four, is ranked the toughest on the course, with its downhill/uphill layout. The front nine closes with a trio of fine holes: a par four that is drivable for those who can hit it long and straight, a scenic par three that features a tee shot to a cantilevered green that is slightly elevated and protected by a creek on its right side (pro tip: err to the left), and a long par five that climbs (and climbs and climbs), requiring a blind approach shot to a green that runs away from the fairway. The fun continues on the back nine.

Arrive early to take advantage of Falconhead’s practice facility, which includes a driving range, pitching area, and putting green. One row of practice mats is set beneath a shady canopy, and the range offers Toptracer mobile capabilities, so be sure to download the app. After your round, take advantage of Talon’s Bar and Grill, which features a lovely covered patio exposed to refreshing Hill Country breezes. —David Courtney

Greens fees: $39 to $89.

Vaaler Creek Golf Club

Blanco

With beautiful vistas; meandering creeks; and winding fairways lined with plentiful live oak, cedar, and mesquite trees, Vaaler Creek epitomizes the best of Hill Country golf. The full eighteen-hole course opened in 2009, just six miles southeast of Blanco and about an hour’s drive from Austin and San Antonio. It serves as the centerpiece of the 1,100-acre Rockin’ J Ranch residential development, but much of the course rests amid secluded natural beauty with nary a home in sight—or in danger of errant shots.

Named for Jack Vaaler (an Army buddy of the development’s owner and a recognizable name in the San Antonio golf community), the course features well-kept MiniVerde greens, with Bermuda 419 and TifSport grasses throughout. The two nines form a figure eight laid out over gently rolling terrain that formerly served as ranchland. The clubhouse, small but functional, is located in a renovated 1860s ranch house—with a large added deck that is shaded by ancient oaks.

Vaaler presents just enough bunkering and water to keep any player’s attention, but even from the back tees, which stretch the course to 6,864 yards, Vaaler offers a pleasant round for most skill levels. The signature eighteenth is a par four featuring a severe dogleg that descends leftward down to a large pond. It leaves the golfer with a demanding shot over the water to a green that is protected on the backside by a large bunker. Here and on others of the greens, distance control is key. —David Courtney

Greens fees: $18 to $79.



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3 Golf Courses to Visit This Fall and Winter​




Oconee


Courtesy Reynolds Lake Oconee

Oconee course

Escape to the secluded woods of central Georgia, adventure to inland Florida or tee off in southern Utah’s high-desert at these three destinations with 18-hole courses that both challenge and excite golfers. The best part: Their usually sunny winters allows golfers to tee it up throughout the season.

1. Greensboro, Georgia

Location: 81 miles northwest of Atlanta

What it offers: As they do at Augusta National, host of the annual Masters Tournament, azaleas bloom by the thousands at Reynolds Lake Oconee, a luxe golf destination in the picturesque Georgia pines along Lake Oconee’s sprawling, serpentine shoreline. Four of Reynolds’ five resort courses, about an hour west of Augusta, rank among Georgia’s top courses, with each presenting a variety of architecture, topography and shot-making challenges.

The portfolio’s crown jewel: Great Waters, a Jack Nicklaus-crafted masterpiece renovated in 2019 that hosted the LPGA Drive On Championship last fall. Half of its holes are on Lake Oconee — none until No. 9 — and none better than No. 11, a drivable downhill par 4 that demands accuracy, enticing players to go for the green from the tee. From beginning to end, the back nine plays like a dream as every hole (except No. 10) hugs the water, with Nos. 14 and 17 — both par 3s — playing over coves with a gallery of boaters and swimmers cheering on golfers.

The other courses in the Reynolds lineup will impress you, too. At the National, three nine-hole layouts are painted with the ingenious brushstroke that is a Tom Fazio-stamped golf course, where tabletop greens, undulating fairways and more than 100 bunkers accentuate Georgia’s natural scenery. For another strong test of your game, the Oconee Course, adjacent to the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, checks all of the boxes, especially the lake-guarded ninth hole. The Preserve offers a fun and casual six-hole alternative — called the Quick Six — where no hole tops 130 yards and rounds finish in less than an hour. And don’t overlook the Landing, Lake Oconee’s original course, which was renovated in 2013. Known for its fast greens and Scottish traits, the Bob Cupp design is forgiving off the tee and, according to Wes Forester, Reynolds’ director of golf, is the collection’s “most underrated course.”

Insider tip: Fine-tune your swing and golf equipment with a master club fitter and builder at the Kingdom at Reynolds Lake Oconee, one of only two such TaylorMade facilities in the country. The Kingdom this year added a second club-building trailer that uses the same state-of-the-art technology Tour players use.

What you’ll pay: Great Waters starts at $195 in low season. You’ll pay the least, $40, at the Preserve.

Where to stay (splurge): Renovated in 2020, the 257-room Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, blends upscale living with Southern hospitality. Pamper yourself at the spa, hit its 21 miles worth of hiking trails, and imbibe in its lobby Barrel Room, manned by certified bourbon stewards. From $459

Where to stay (save, if you’re with a group): Spread across 374 miles of scenic shoreline, Reynolds Lake Oconee Cottages are ideal two-, three- and four-bedroom options for sharing during golf getaways with friends and family. From $460.



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Startling renovation has transformed this city course into public golf heaven


Corica Park is a bright spot in muni renovations.

Corica Park’s North Course promises to bring the goods, blending old-school with new-school.

Courtesy Corica Park

With golf enjoying an historic boom and tee times seemingly as scarce as aces, any increase in supply is a cause for celebration. 

When that supply is at a top-notch, bargain-priced muni, in the heart of a congested, golf-mad region, well, consider us euphoric.

So it has been of late for Bay Area golfers dialed into the goings-on at Corica Park, a 45-hole facility just east of San Francisco that is fast becoming one of the country’s marquee municipal complexes, up there in the conversation with the multi-course likes of Bethpage State Park and Torrey Pines.

Already home to the recently redone South Course, a Rees Jones design that channels the spirit of an Australian Sandbelt layout, and a newly reworked nine-hole par-3 course that offers a similar style of golf, in miniature, Corica Park is about to unveil the latest phase of its property-wide renovations.

This coming Thursday, the front nine of the North Course opens for play.

Like the South Course prior to its overhaul, the North Course used to be pancake-flat, with little more than two feet of elevation change across its entire footprint. To kickstart the transformation, Greenway Golf, the golf management company that runs Corica Park, brought in a planet’s worth of sand (okay, 15,000 truckloads, if you want to be more literal), the prized leftovers from big-dig construction projects in San Francisco.

Then it set Marc Logan loose.

A 58-year-old Australian who began his career a half a lifetime ago on the turf-care team at Royal Melbourne, Logan is not a superintendent, a general contractor, or a course architect. He is all of the above, evidenced by the myriad roles he has played on the job.

Not only did he install the North’s new irrigation and drainage systems, along with other critical infrastructure. Logan also handled the agronomy and the redesign, sticking largely to the original routing while transforming every hole into a vastly improved version of its former self.

The details on the North Course are coming in nicely.

Courtesy Photo

To anyone familiar with the old North layout, the result is unrecognizable, in a very welcome way.

Like its sibling, the South Course, the North is meant to play firm and fast, with bouncy, drought-resistant turf, but it’s not intended as a tribute to the Sandbelt. It draws clearer inspiration from Golden Age designs in this country and their antecedents across the pond.

Consider the fairways, which are wide but dramatic and strategic, with flat landing areas flanked by humps and hollows, and swatches of fescue guarding the margins. Though losing a ball is unlikely, finding the sweet slot can take some doing. It’s not matter of rearing back and blasting. Let a tee shot stray and you’re apt to be confronted with an awkward lie or a less-than-ideal line to your next target. Bunkers, though few, have steep, riveted faces. Sideways is often the only way out.

At a shade over 3,000 yards, this new nine isn’t long, but distance isn’t always the best defense. Nor is it the most interesting.

Corica’s North Course has nine holes open for play beginning in mid-October.

Courtesy Photo

“So much of golf these days is about length, length, length, but that’s not what this is about here,” Logan says. “I’m not out to punish the player who hits it long and straight. But if you hit it long and crooked, you’re not going to have an advantage over the guy who knocks it shorter but takes the right line. I was trying to level out the playing field.”

In a cap-tip to the Golden Age giant CB MacDonald, Logan has enlivened the design with template-like holes. Template-like, he says, because they aren’t faithful replicas but renditions, relying on elements of iconic designs. While 4th hole is a par-3 you could fairly call Redan-ish, given its canted green and fronting bunker, the 5th, a par-5 with a gulley running through its putting surface, carries echoes of a Biarritz.

Logan will have even more of this in store (a double-plateau green; a postage stamp-like par-3) when he finishes work on the back nine next year. In his original plans, all 18 of the North were slated to be done by now, but then, of course, the pandemic intervened, sending golf participation through the roof even as it gummed up construction projects. 

So, nine new holes it what Corica has for now, and that’s a whole lot better than nothing, especially nine holes as fine as these. No wonder the buzz around this week’s ribbon cutting.

“Be happy—play often,” reads the slogan on the North’s new scorecard. Words to live by.

Now, let’s see what the tee sheet allows.

This is part of our Muni Monday series, spotlighting stories from the world of city- and county-owned golf courses around the world. Got a muni story that needs telling? Send tips to Dylan Dethier or to [email protected] and follow Muni Mondays on Instagram.

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A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.





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