The Dallas area is chock full of municipal courses for your golf dollar, but if you’re looking for cheap and challenging, the options can be limited. So, I would like to direct you to Lancaster and a hidden gem that not only maximizes your golf dollar, but also your creativity while managing a golf course. I speak, of course, of the lone Lancaster Municipal, Country View Golf Club.
At just over 6,300 yards from the tips, this course doesn’t punish the shorter hitter, but will challenge the thought processes of the advanced players who do hit it above average. The great equalizer at Country View are the elevated tee boxes and greens, which bookend tight fairways. This layout presents a true short-game challenge for even the advanced wedge-smith.
The opening hole is a slight dogleg right with a tiny pond just right of the fairway. This little water feature can reach out and grab a tee shot and get your round off to a rocky start, so favor the left center of the fairway. Enjoy your look at this green, as it is one of the last times you will see the entire flagstick as you navigate this course notorious for its elevated, table-top putting surfaces.
The second hole begins to highlight some of the tight driving holes at Country View, as the 150-marker is fully displayed about 250 yards out in the fairway. However, a miss left or right leaves a tumultuous approach through a narrow chute with water right of the elevated green. Find the fairway, and the club selection is a real nail-biter as the uphill shot to the raised putting surface can really be a conundrum. It is the No. 2 handicap, and when you play it, you can easily see why.
After the par-4 third hole, which again features a green that is about 20 feet above the fairway, we come to the opening par 5. No. 4 is more of a dump-and-chase type hole, as driver can be missed right, and if you aren’t blocked out by a collection of small trees, there is some room to operate. Anything in the fairway is great and leaves a reasonable chance to attack the green in two.
The first par 3 of the day arrives at No. 6. This is one of approach shots where you can see all the putting surface. Water all down the right also nudges its way in front of the green, but it only plays 180 from the back tees, so it is manageable. With a solid iron effort, this can be a simple par.
I think of all the holes at Country View, No. 7 might be the most serene. Tucked on the west side of the property nearest Tenmile Creek, this par 4 requires a pinpoint tee shot to access a green tucked through a narrow chute of trees. Take too much club off the tee, and balls can run through the fairway, making for an impossible, blocked-out second shot. If you find yourself in this position, you may end up having to chip the ball 40 yards backwards into the fairway for relief. An ideal spot off the tee is just beyond the 150 post, which will leave a clean view of the green. It’s a quirky hole, but one that I really enjoyed.
No. 10 is another hole where choosing the proper club off the tee is paramount. Big hitters can sling a high draw over the large tree on the left and get something up near the green, but again beware, as another table-top green awaits and can leave a very awkward chip with not much of the flagstick in view.
The stretch of 12-14 was probably my favorite stretch of holes at Country View. The par-4 12th features another tee shot that can be played conservatively toward the middle of the fairway, or with a more aggressive play over the large tree on the right on a line toward the green. Once again, the closer to the green you get, the more challenging the wedge shot; as this green slopes hard from right to left looking directly face-on from the fairway, but the aggressive line to the right leaves the green sloping away from the player, making it tough to get close.
No. 13 might be the tightest driving hole in the Dallas area. From the tee, there seems to be almost no landing area. This par 5 literally has the feeling of trying to hit a drive down a hallway. Should you miss left, there is OB, and miss right and there are trees that will likely mean a punch shot back to the fairway for your second shot. It’s a good hole, but very claustrophobic and difficult to manage off the tee box. The deep green also provides a challenge, so be sure to double- and triple-check your yardage if you choose to lay up to a good wedge number.
The final hole of this trio is a great par 3 over Tenmile Creek to a kidney-shaped green. Come up short and you will be reaching for another ball. There is some bailout long, but this leaves a difficult chip no matter where the pin is set.
The par-4 15th is another good little hole. A narrow fairway leads to a tucked, elevated green which can be tough to hit if you advance the ball too far off the tee. A long iron or hybrid might be a better play for the longer hitters here and, has been the case for the previous 14 holes, a precise short iron or wedge is necessary.
The most difficult hole on the course presents itself at No. 17. Although the landing area is more generous than most off the tee, the more you advance the ball toward the green, the more the fairway narrows. A 3-wood is a good play for the longer players, as water creeps in on both sides at about 260 yards. A well-placed tee shot leaves a short iron, but again players face an elevated green with water short, left and right. It’s a tricky club selection with trouble everywhere. It’s easy to see why this is rated as the hardest hole on the course.
The final hole of the day is a slight dogleg par 4 that works back to the clubhouse. The driving range is off to the left, and there is a small water hazard tucked in some trees to the right. The fairway is generous, and those who play a fade can benefit from the hole’s routing. I did find it a bit ironic that the 18th green is one of the few on the course that isn’t severely table-topped, almost as if the course architect wanted to give players a little bit of relief from the demanding approach shots at the last. It’s a pretty straightforward finishing hole and one where a par or better is attainable.
I must say, Country View is one of the most unique municipal courses I have been to in a while. The course conditions won’t change your life, by any means. There are no bunkers, and there are some holes that could benefit from some tree-trimming, but every approach shot gets your attention with the elevated greens. This is a wonderful budget course (just $45 bucks during prime time), with some holes that can really help you develop your short game and course management off the tee. There are some tight fairways that promote being able to hit it straight and plenty of game management tee shots where driver can be kept in the bag for a more conservative club selection.
The clubhouse is solid, with a nice patio that overlooks the course. There are plenty of food options and multiple beers on tap if you want to arrive early for lunch or catch some of the PGA TOUR event after your round on one of their multiple HD TVs. I recommend the 19th hole burger, which comes with your choice of cheese on a nicely toasted bun. If you are looking for something a little quicker as you make the turn, then try the “Lancaster Tiger Dog,” which is their jumbo hot dog. A buck of every dog sold gets donated to the Lancaster High School Booster Club. They also have a great Philly cheesesteak, or even a Buffalo chicken wrap. The food is as good as you will find at any municipal course in the Dallas area. The grill area can also be rented out for parties or company meetings, with their 120” projection screen at your disposal for presentations.
Overall, I enjoyed my first visit to Country View. The staff was friendly and helpful, and the course was enjoyable and challenging from tee to green. If you are in the market for a budget round that will improve your wedge game and is perfect for the beginner, then this is a track to add into your regular rotation.