It’s no secret that DFW has plenty of great municipal options. All you need to see for proof is our November Best of Public issue that hit shelves a few weeks ago. Fort Worth, Arlington, Grand Prairie, and other cities have great courses for your average Joe or single digit handicap to enjoy. Dallas is no different, with multiple options for your golfing dollar. Stevens Park, Cedar Crest, Luna Vista and Keeton Park are all fun and enjoyable places to stick a peg in the ground. If you are looking for another option in Big D, then Tenison Park needs to be on your list of courses to try.
Tenison has a pair of courses, the more affordable Glen Course, which we will save for another time, and the Highlands course, which AG visited last month. D.A. Weibring renovated the Highlands back in 2001, and it is still holding up well. For a muni, The Highlands boasts great conditions, some well-placed water hazards, and bunkers where necessary, without bogging down the pace of play for the amateur player. The clubhouse is clean, well-stocked and has the Tenison Café, which has plenty of selections for a pre or post round snack or beverage.
If you want to hit some balls, Tenison has a driving range too for those who may just want to get a quick bucket after work or schedule a lesson to work on their game. A short game area and putting green make Tenison a great place for a quick practice session at lunch or on Saturday before you embark on the honey do list.
The Highlands Course at Tenison is a delight to play. Rolling parkland terrain with some elevation changes, four fantastic par-3s and some great amenities for anyone who is looking for a great Dallas layout that won’t bust the bank.
The opening hole on the Highlands course is a great precursor to the terrain you are about to see. The tee shot crests a hill and then disappears on the other side, leading to a downhill approach to a green guarded by a bunker on the right. The approach can be a bit tricky, as the ball will often lie on the downslope, making it tough to hit in the middle of the clubface.
No. 2 is one of my favorite par 3s in the area. Although it just plays just 144-yards from the tips, the overhanging tree and bunker on the left and the sloped hill to the right give this little hole an amphitheater look and a serene feel. Play this one to the middle of the green and watch the ball gently roll left toward the hole. It’s a testament to the fact that par 3s don’t need to be 200-yards to be great.
The first par-5 of the day comes at No. 3. It is a behemoth, playing at 625 from the diamond tees. Although long, the tee shot plays downhill with water on the right. Longer hitters need to be aware that the water is there, as those that play a cut can find it. Trees all down the left can devour pulled tee shots. The second shot, whether it be an attempt at getting home in two or a layup requires precision as the fairway narrows the closer to the green you get. It’s a good opening par-5 and one that can yield a birdie with a pair of good shots.
The fourth hole is the longest par-4 on the property. Playing at 452 yards, it’s a stern test for even the best ball striker, as most players will be hitting a mid or a long iron into the green, which is guarded by a bunker short and right of the putting surface.
The stretch of No. 5 through No. 7 is a great trio of holes. The par 3 fifth, plays back to the edge of the property as the green is surrounded by stately trees that shade the surface as you fire your iron toward the pin. No. 6 spins back around and heads back toward the clubhouse and is the second par-5 on the outward nine. It requires an accurate tee shot to avoid a fairway bunker on the right or O.B on the left. A meandering stream crosses the fairway about 50 yards short of the green, so those who wish to lay-up should be aware of its presence. There is also a cross bunker short and right of the putting surface that looks closer to the green than it is from back in the fairway. Find this trap and you will be left with the dreaded 30-yard bunker shot. It’s a great hole, and one that can add a birdie to the card with some quality shots.
No. 7 is one of my favorite holes at Tenison Highlands. This short par-4 features water all down the left, but those who want to be aggressive can challenge the green or get their tee shot to chipping distance. The hole only plays 330 from the tips, and right at 300 from the one-in tees. This is a great chance at a birdie if you are confident enough to swing the lumber off the box.
The eighth hole is a slight dogleg right that is 433-yards from the tips. It’s a generous landing area off the fairway, so players can give it a ride and try to squeeze some extra distance out to make the approach more manageable. A pair of bunkers guard the green complex, so be sure to avoid them or risk a tricky up-and-down for par.
No. 9 climbs a hill back toward the clubhouse and is an aesthetically pleasing hole with the tree framed fairway and the colorful shrubs and Crepe myrtles behind the green. Avoid the two fairway bunkers on the left for the best chance to hit the green in regulation. You may also consider wind direction and elevation on the approach, as taking an extra club may be necessary to get your shot up the hill.
The back nine at Tenison features more stunning elevation change, and you get a nice dose of it on the opening hole. No. 10 is basically No. in reverse, with the tenth tee just a few feet from the ninth green and the green back down the hill near No. 9 tee. The trouble here is the cross bunker on the right side of the fairway which will leave an awkward yardage from the sand. As with the opening hole on the Highlands course, you can find yourself with the ball on the downslope in the fairway, so clean contact can be tricky.
No. 11 is a long, sweeping dogleg right par 5. A good line is carving a fade off the far end of the maintenance shed and letting it catch some additional roll with the gentle downhill pitch of the fairway. The second shot on this hole looks like a painting with the green tucked back in a grove of massive hardwood trees. An aggressive play can lead to a birdie, but wayward shots can pinball among the trees and lead to some borderline impossible recovery efforts.
For my money, the twelfth hole is one of the most difficult on the property. Any golfer will tell you that one of the most difficult things in the game is hitting the ball dead straight. And this hole is about as straightforward as you can imagine. It seems so easy, but its deceptively long and the fairway is much tighter than it appears from the tee. It’s a tough customer for those who play a sweeping ball flight. The approach is no bargain either, as there are a pair of bunkers short of the green and there isn’t as much room beyond the green as it appears from the fairway.
No. 13 is another gorgeous par-3 at Tenison and the start of a fantastic six-hole finish to the course. Named “Augusta” because of its resemblance to the famous twelfth at Augusta National, this hole is all carry over water, so short is dead, making this a tough club selection depending on pin placement. A two-tiered green can be tough to two-putt if you find the wrong section.
No. 14 through No. 16 really display some of the great changes in terrain on this piece of property. No. 14 goes straight up to the crest of a hill, so if you can find the fairway, the second shot is a real bear, as the change in elevation can really make this a tough club selection. The green sits in a bowl atop the hill, so chipping can be tough from around the putting surface. It’s rated as the No. 4 handicap on the course but trust me… it will give you all you want. It’s a truly challenging hole for any skill level player.
Fifteen tees just a few yards from fourteen green and heads back down the hill players just navigated. This is a true grip it and rip it hole, as longer players can start shots over the treetops on the left and hit one up near the green. Avoid the pair of fairway bunkers on the right, but most of the longer players will cut off the slight dogleg and take them out of play.
No. 16 is the last of the par-5s at the Highlands. This hole again features an uphill challenge. Trees line both sides of a narrow fairway, making this a tough customer off the tee. The left center of the fairway leaves the best angle for an attempt at getting there in two, but it’s tough as there is at least a club of uphill to contend with. It’s one final legit shot at a birdie.
The par-3 seventeenth hole is an uphill 209 yarder with a green that angles from front left to back right. It really favors those players who like to play a cut shot. There is a bunker short and right of the green, so make sure to add a club to stay out of it.
The final hole at Tenison Highlands is one of Weibring’s best challenges. Playing as the No. 2 handicap, this requires a threaded needle tee shot, with O.B. right and a fairway bunker left. The best play is hitting it right at the fairway bunker with a very slight cut shot. You really want to be on the left side of the fairway to get the best look at a well-protected green. The approach is interesting though, as it plays downhill, giving players a good look at their target. It’s a solid final test.
Overall, Tenison Highlands is a fun layout with some holes that can yield some birdies and some surprises. It’s great for those players who are looking for a good challenge at a decent rate, or even the more seasoned player who is trying to refine club selection and short game. With five sets of tee boxes, any level of player is bound to make this course as fun or as challenging as it needs to be. Dallasites have plenty of options when comes to municipal golf, but Tenison Highlands is certainly right there at the top as far as great courses that keep golfers and their wallets happy.
Tenison Park Golf Course
3501 Samuell Blvd
Dallas TX, 75223