Cover Story – Best of Private Golf 2024

Cover Story – Best of Private Golf 2024

Best Overall Country Club 2024

Once again for 2024, Northwood Club holds AVIDGOLFER’s top spot for best country club in the Metroplex. Northwood has everything, from its modern, beautiful clubhouse to a world-class golf course. Conditions are always stupendous, with its rolling parkland architecture and one of the most scenic tee shots you will find in the state, the par-5 14th. The course is also one of the few in DFW with major championship provenance, as it played host to the 1952 United States Open, won by Julius Boros, who outdueled Ed Oliver and Ben Hogan, who was looking to capture his third consecutive U.S. Open title. Architect Tripp Davis spearheaded a renovation of the course that was completed in 2018, and the overall aesthetic and playability is now off the charts. There is a reason membership at Northwood is not only exclusive, but difficult to attain, as prospects for a full golf membership can wait close to a decade before they are admitted. 

There are many fine courses in the area, but for a great overall vibe, amenities, food and beverage (their signature Love in a Cup cocktail is hard to beat), and a golf course that we argue could be played every single day without growing bored of it, make Northwood the gold standard for country clubs not only in Dallas, but in the whole state.

Best Overall Golf Club 2024

With Dallas National set to undergo a major renovation beginning any time now, Preston Trail claims the top spot for best golf club for 2024. Preston Trail is a veritable who’s-who of the most prestigious and powerful members of the Dallas community. Stories from Preston Trail are legendary, from Mickey Mantle reportedly once playing a round completely in the buff, to other high-profile members enjoying the perks of the men’s only atmosphere. It’s an exclusive fraternity, and should you be fortunate enough to become a member, the experience is unparalleled. 

The course is sublime in every way, combining classic architectural elements strewn across a parkland, vista-laden course that can’t be beat for overall playability and extraordinary fun. The agronomy is off the charts, even with the challenging North Texas weather patterns. Tees, fairways and greens are sublime, and with the course seeing fewer than 10,000 rounds a year, that’s going to remain the case year in and year out. 

Preston Trail also features one of the best clubhouse atmospheres around, with nobody under 21 allowed on the property, executives can conduct business and remain unfetrered by excessive noise or activity. The only thing more legendary than the tales from the course at Preston Trail, is the lunch, which is said to be the best of any club in town … and we can confirm that it is indeed world class. 

Preston Trail is a course that is tough to play for the common man, but if you can get out there, it’s the total package.

Best Country Club Platinum Category • $100,000 and up

Brook Hollow Golf Club 

Vaquero Club

Shady Oaks Country Club 

Royal Oaks Country Club 

Bent Tree Golf Club 

Lakewood Country Club 

Brook Hollow Golf Club is one of the most prestigious clubs in Dallas, and if you ever get a chance to play there, you will immediately see why. The old-school clubhouse is gorgeous on the inside, with every amenity one would want in a great club. The bar area is a callback to the past, with a wonderful, classic vibe and a staff that will make you feel like the most important person on Earth. The course is simply sublime, with magnificent architectural elements and green complexes that challenge even the best short game. From a course design standpoint, this is arguably one of the best courses in the entire state. If you ever fall into an invite to play, it’s truly a drop-everything place to experience. 

Vaquero Club recently reopened after a major renovation. Early returns from most members we spoke to were overwhelmingly positive. This course boasts some of the best overall course conditions you will find anywhere, and we expect that to continue to be the case as the new turf continues to mature over the coming months. The clubhouse at Vaquero is second to none, with one of the most amazing locker rooms anywhere in Texas. Vaquero’s on-course comfort stations have also been updated and feature just about anything you could ever want while playing. Adult beverages, sodas, coffee, snacks, and just about any sweet you might have a hankering for. It is truly a club that caters to your every desire. 

What can we say about Shady Oaks Country Club that hasn’t already been said by those over on the west side of the Metroplex? Shady has long been the best overall club in Fort Worth, with its great history, phenomenal greens and the best short course in the area. The back-to-back par 5s on the inward nine are a little strange, but overall, the course is always in magnificent shape, and you will immediately fall in love with Shady’s “Little 9,” which can not only refine your short irons and chipping, but also settle some wagers or birth new ones among the members. The clubhouse is amazing, with plenty of nods to Ben Hogan, who called Shady home for years. With Colonial renovating, Shady may have some competition for best in Fort Worth next year, but for now it is still the gold standard in Panther City. 

Royal Oaks Country Club just re-turfed the entire course, and as that new turf settles in, we expect the course to be better than it was … and it was already fantastic. The layout does feature some quirky holes, but they will make you think and help develop your course-management skills. The clubhouse is massive and gorgeous, with great food and a dynamite overall vibe that caters to those older members as well as the young executives. Plus, you just might see one of the best golfers on the planet, as this is Scottie Scheffler’s home course.  

Bent Tree Country Club is the total package for great golf, great atmosphere and a great clubhouse. Bent Tree offers a massive driving range and a new short game area that opened just before our rankings last year. The course is tight but has more user-friendly greens than some of the other high-end courses in Dallas. Plus, they have one of the most beautiful holes in Dallas, the par-3 14th. The clubhouse at Bent Tree is a few years old now but remains one of the biggest and best in the area, with a fantastic gym, dining and locker rooms. It is also a great family club. 

Lakewood Country Club is a perfect property for those over on the east side of downtown. The bent grass greens roll beautifully. This is a smaller piece of property, but they have still managed to stretch the course to over 6,700 yards, and the dynamic bunkering can be difficult to navigate. The clubhouse has a great vibe, with a good number of younger members always ready for patio drinks and watching players come in on No. 18. Lakewood has 8½ tennis courts, three swimming pools, a fitness center and a variety of club events and dining options. 

Best Country Club Elite Category • $50,000–$100,000

Gleneagles Country Club

Stonebriar Country Club

The Nelson Golf & Sports Club 

River Crest Country Club 

Gleneagles Country Club features two superb courses, the King’s Course, and the Queen’s Course. A recent renovation on the King’s side has this property as one of the best in the Invited portfolio. Both courses are fun, with some creative, winding architecture that zigzags through neighborhoods and across the rolling, tree-lined meat of the property. The clubhouse at Gleneagles is huge and always buzzing with activity, as their large membership enjoys dining, tennis, pickleball, swimming or the fitness facility. This club has it all and is also a pretty solid value for what it offers. 

Stonebriar Country Club is another Invited property that consistently dazzles and, like Gleneagles, has a pair of courses, fitness center, aquatics, dining, and racquet sports. The Country Club Course, designed by Joe Finger and Ken Dye, was hailed as the Best New Golf Course in the Nation when it opened, and the Fazio Course speaks for itself, designed by one of the most renowned architects on the planet. The recently renovated greens and bunkers have only enhanced this great golf course. Overall, this is one of the best properties for the money in DFW. 

The Nelson Golf & Sports Club still thrives in Las Colinas almost a decade removed from hosting The Byron Nelson. As you can see, the club features new branding, named for Mr. Nelson, as well as new logos and new management, which continues to improve the overall aesthetic of the club. New management has put plenty of assets into updating the fitness facilities, which has made it one of the finest in the state. 

River Crest Country Club in Fort Worth boasts some of the best greens and green complexes in the area. With Shady and Colonial, sometimes River Crest can get lost in the shuffle of great clubs in Tarrant County, but believe us, it is every bit as fun, and the conditions are always sublime. They have every amenity you would want, with racquet sports and a great pool scene. Plus, Crestival might be one of the best member-guest tournaments anywhere in the state.  

Best Country Club First-Class Category • $20,000–$50,000

Las Colinas Country Club

The Lakes at Castle Hills

The Clubs at Stonebridge Ranch 

Dallas Athletic Club

Mira Vista Country Club

Ridglea Country Club

Canyon Creek Country Club

Denton Country Club

The Clubs of Prestonwood

Heath Golf and Yacht Club

We are a few years removed from the renovation at Las Colinas Country Club, and it has really settled in and made this one of the better overall properties in the area. It is not only convenient for just about anywhere you might live in the Metroplex, but the course is fun, gettable and has fantastic Zoysia fairways. The host course of the Invited Celebrity Classic, LCCC is one of the more appealing clubs for those wanting a great overall value with all the amenities to please the whole family. 

The Lakes at Castle Hills is low-key one of the most challenging courses you may not be familiar with. Multiple sets of tees can extend this course to a white-knuckle 7,300 yards to a more manageable 6,500 from the member tees, and each hole prioritizes creative thinking and shot making. It’s a wonderful option, with an aquatic center with resort-style swimming pool, tennis center and a 4,300-square-foot fitness and wellness center. It has everything you might want, all at a great initiation and monthly dues. 

The Clubs at Stonebridge Ranch is a great club for those looking for a club with all the amenities at a reasonable price. The Ranch Course boasts 27 holes that feature some fun green complexes that will challenge your short game. The Dye Signature course is everything you would expect from a Dye layout. Tough, but can yield some birdies for those hitting it well. The Hills is preparing a multi-phase renovation beginning soon and will continue through early 2025.

Dallas Athletic Club has two courses, and the Gold Course recently reopened after a renovation to rave reviews. There is a great, youthful membership due to the very affordable initiation and dues. You would be hard-pressed to find a better club with major championship provenance in the state, as DAC hosted the 1963 PGA Championship, which was won by the GOAT, Jack Nicklaus.  

Mira Vista Country Club is another Fort Worth Club that is on the verge of some major changes. A complete renovation is rumored to begin later this year, which will overhaul this Tom Weiskopf/Jay Morrish design. The course has been around since 1987 and has long been an enjoyable option for those in west Fort Worth who wanted something more affordable than Colonial, Shady Oaks or River Crest. The clubhouse is large and has a fantastic men’s locker room, which also boasts the single-best milkshake you will find on the planet Earth. We’re looking forward to the renovation and can’t wait to see the results. 

If you want 36 holes and a wonderful, family friendly club, then Ridglea Country Club in Fort Worth is worth checking out. They have the North Course and the South Course, and the experience is different with each. The North Course is near the main clubhouse and is considered the family course. The South is a short drive away and offers one of the best overall spots for pace of play. The South Course also has a great men’s grill and bar. The fitness center at the Family Course and main clubhouse has been renovated, and the 19th hole at the Family Clubhouse is also new and improved. It’s a great overall club for the price.

Canyon Creek Country Club in Richardson is another great example of the way Invited Clubs invests and improves their stable of properties. The course has been completely renovated, and the early returns suggest it’s something special, especially at the current price point. Three swimming pools, including a family, Olympic-sized and an adults-only option, make this a wonderful club for those blistering summer months. Dining, tennis and pickleball are all available to members, making this a great complete club for men, women and families. 

Denton Country Club is one of our favorite layouts in the northern part of the area. Nestled in the rolling terrain of Argyle, DCC boasts some majestic views that dazzle as you play their par-71 course. Though it can be tight off the tee, solid ball-strikers have the opportunity to score on their lush greens, which always seem to roll with solid speed. Tennis, aquatics, fine dining and other fabulous amenities await members who choose to join.  

The Clubs of Prestonwood is another of Invited’s properties and has a pair of courses. The Creek Course is a little quirky but has a fabulous clubhouse with great food and a younger, vibrant atmosphere. The Hills Course is a layout that is difficult to tire of, with a lot of scorable holes and interesting design elements. As a full member, you can play both, but there is also the option to join just the Hills, which is a wonderful value for those who just value golf and don’t need the extra membership perks.  

Heath Golf and Yacht Club has been a part of the DFW golf landscape for a few years now, and the property is booming with activity as homes continue to fly up in and around the development. The clubhouse offers lake views, and members can even dock boats and meander up to the clubhouse for dinner, drinks or a nice dip in the pool. The course is a Roy Bechtol design, which are few and far between in the area. The 18th hole is a great par 5 that features an amphitheater green surrounded by trees that makes this a great place to watch as members finish up their rounds. 

Best Country Club Mid-Priced Category • $5,000–$20,000

Trophy Club Country Club

Hackberry Creek Country Club

Brookhaven Country Club 

Rockwall Golf and Athletic Club 

The Retreat 

Trophy Club Country Club has two courses, the Hogan and the Whitworth, named for Ben Hogan and Kathy Whitworth.  They also have a huge clubhouse, along with tennis, pickleball, swimming, dining and fitness. There is a nice mix of younger and experienced members to make this a great spot for young execs or those looking to play golf after retirement. A large range and a massive putting green on property will also keep your game sharp. 

Hackberry Creek Country Club is a great option for young executives who office or live in the middle of the Metroplex. The course is a fun Byron Nelson design, and initiation and dues are affordable for anyone looking for a value option that is easily accessible. The clubhouse has plenty of great food and beverage options, and the property also has eight tennis courts, 16 lighted pickleball courts and a family aquatics center. Hackberry has it all and it’s not super pricy. 

Brookhaven Country Club is another reasonably priced Invited club. With three courses, The Master’s, the Championship and the President’s, there is plenty of variety to test your game. Brookhaven is known as one of the courses Jordan Spieth played religiously glowing up, making this a great place to play for those wanting to walk in the steps of a local great. The family friendly atmosphere is known far and wide as the pool more resembles a resort during the summer months as it is buzzing with activity. For young execs with kids, you simply won’t find a better overall property. 

Rockwall Golf and Athletic Club is a few years removed from a complete green renovation, and the update has really paid off. The greens and fairways at Rockwall are really good, which makes the course a joy to play. The first tee shot alone is worth the price of admission, with a stunning elevated tee box that overlooks Lake Ray Hubbard. In addition, there are indoor and outdoor tennis courts, and multiple dining and cocktail options, including Nineteen, The Pub, The Champions Room, Vionette’s Veranda, Sol/Luna Deck, and Crown Room.

The Retreat is a great resort-like property down in Cleburne. You can join The Retreat, but you need to be a property owner. Once you are, dues to the 18-hole championship course are very reasonable, and you also get access to the pool, fitness center, parks and the playground for the kiddos and more. If that weren’t enough, Cleburne offers a quaint, downhome atmosphere where time seems to stand still. 

Best Country Club Value-Priced Category • Under $5,000

Eldorado Country Club

Diamond Oaks Country Club 

Walnut Creek Country Club

Oakmont Country Club

Hurricane Creek Country Club

Shady Valley Country Club

Eldorado Country Club is a great option for value up in the McKinney area. The course is worthy, with some tight fairways that require keeping it straight. A fun, youthful membership keeps the course and clubhouse busy, but it’s a good club for those not looking to break the bank and still experience the country club life. 

When we last checked on Diamond Oaks Country Club, they were getting ready to open their newly renovated clubhouse. After taking a peek earlier this year, we are very impressed. The new clubhouse is a total gamechanger, really making this one of the most complete affordable clubs if you are on the west side of the area. The course itself had a great 2023 condition-wise, with a lot of really fun holes that you won’t grow tired of playing. There are so many great clubs in the area, so Diamond Oaks probably doesn’t get the credit it deserves, but we absolutely love it for its value. And if you are looking for a club to join that won’t break the bank, you will, too. 

Walnut Creek Country Club is the lone country club in Mansfield, which has become a bustling suburb over the last two decades. Two courses, the Oak and the Pecan, offer a variety of challenging holes that will require every club in your bag. The clubhouse and outdoor pavilion are perfect for your tournament or corporate outing, the 19th hole has a great, youthful vibe, and the pool is perfect for kids and adults to enjoy during the steaming summer months. Overall, this property is affordable, and has every amenity you would want in a great club.

Oakmont Country Club in Corinth features 51 bunkers and six water features scattered across the 18-hole layout, making it a challenge for anyone. Their champion Bermuda greens provide excellent putting surfaces that add a premium to rolling the rock. Invited has spent some money here over the last half decade, and the results are showing. It’s a fantastic entry-level course for those looking for a value club in that area. 

Hurricane Creek Country Club might seem like it’s off the beaten path a bit, but as the Metroplex continues to rapidly expand north, it’s now a real player for those looking to live out of town, but still have a reasonable commute to the communities north of Dallas. The course has some of the most dynamic elevation changes you can find at this price point, and the membership is a great combination of young execs and older members, all of which are welcoming to a great time both on and off the course. At this price point, you will love this club should you be looking in the area up north. 

Shady Valley Country Club is the only country club in Arlington, and it continues to impress with its reasonable dues and rock-solid amenities. The course has gotten a reputation for being very tight off the tee, but some recent tree-trimming has opened it up, making it a bit more forgiving. It’s also very walkable, for those who value getting those steps in, instead of taking a cart. The clubhouse is nice, with solid food and a nice bar area with windows overlooking the course. If you are in Arlington, Shady Valley is an affordable option, with a nice group of loyal members, many of which have been there for years. 

Best Golf Club Platinum Category • Over $100,000

Trinity Forest Golf Club

Maridoe Golf Club 

There is every other golf club in Dallas, and then there is Trinity Forest Golf Club. The course is, without a doubt, the most unique in the area, with its links-style Coore-Crenshaw layout and the thinking man’s way to play every single hole. While this layout is non-traditional, especially for this area, we absolutely love it and think it’s about as underrated as it gets for overall playability and the multiple options each hole offers to score. The clubhouse is amazing and modern, and the practice facility is one of the best in DFW. They also have one of the most loyal memberships around, who have nothing but great things to say about the course, clubhouse and overall hospitality. 

Maridoe Golf Club is a relative unknown to most in the Metroplex. Located in Carrollton, this course will test the best players in the world, with many local pros who are either members there, or routinely play there, to test their games on one of the toughest layouts in the state. The clubhouse and locker room are great, and the food is gourmet, but this club is mainly about one thing … golf. The practice areas are second to none, and the course is challenging even to the most refined players. Maridoe has also long been seeking to host a professional event, and that just may happen later this year, as the LIV Tour is rumored to be hosting a tournament there in the early fall. Stay tuned …

Best Golf Club Elite Category • $50,000–$100,000

TPC Craig Ranch

TPC Craig Ranch is one of our favorite overall clubs year in and year out. Since the property took over as the host course of the CJ CUP Byron Nelson, conditions have been consistently fantastic, and the course aesthetic is marvelous with the limestone peeking from the banks of Rowlett Creek as you make your way across this par-72 Tom Weiskopf design. A massive practice area is also a highlight, making this a great club for those who like to beat balls in their spare time. The clubhouse is solid, with everything you need to prepare for your day on the course. 

Best Golf Club First Class Category • $10,000–$50,000

Timarron Country Club

Lantana Golf Club

Gentle Creek Golf Club

Southlake’s Timarron Country Club features a fantastic Byron Nelson-designed course that meanders through water features and has some great elevation changes. Great turf conditions and strategically placed bunkers add to the challenge, and the 18th is one of the better finishing holes in the Invited Club’s stable of courses. The vibe is fun, inviting and is a great hang for those in the Southlake vicinity. It’s a great total package of amenities, golf, friendly members and staff … plus, the price is very reasonable for what you get. 

In 2002, Lantana Golf Club opened to rave reviews, and to this day, it still gets them. Lantana has a great parkland-style golf course that is playable and enjoyable for those who grind away to stay as a scratch player, or those who just want to have some fun in the sun and don’t care what they shoot. A recently renovated clubhouse turned this into a club that you wanted to belong to into a club that you need to belong to. Arcis has done a fantastic job with this property, and we think you will agree. 

Gentle Creek Golf Club, which is now an Arcis Golf property, is making improvements bit-by-bit. The course has a lot of character, including a great par-3 ninth hole that is a carry over water. The clubhouse renovation is underway and expected to be completed in the coming months. A fitness center and dining are also part of the new clubhouse plans. 

Not Rated for 2024

Dallas National Golf Club

Dallas National is preparing to undergo a $30 million renovation, and we can’t wrap our heads around what it might look like when that’s complete. The course and facilities were already beyond spectacular, so now we wait to see what the future holds. 

Colonial Country Club

CCC’s Gil Hanse’s renovation is nearing completion, and early returns look spectacular. We can’t wait to see the finished product when they open for the Charles Schwab Challenge in May. 

Dallas Country Club

DCC underwent an extensive course renovation in 2023 and just reopened in November. We are eager to see the updates to not only the golf course, but the Sports and Tennis Centers, as well.