Cover Story – Best of Public 2019

Cover Story – Best of Public 2019

2019 was a tremendous year for Dallas/Fort Worth golf. Favorable weather conditions and a Metroplex chock-full of talented agronomy teams kept courses fantastic throughout the year.

With that in mind, 2019 was one of the most competitive ever in AG’s annual Best of Public rankings. From Old American and Cowboys to Prairie Lakes and Bear Creek, the area is loaded with quality golf options for all budgets and skill levels. If you and your group are more interested in amenities than golf, AG has you covered there too, with “The List” of the best reasons to visit some of these properties.

We’re glad you chose to pick up a copy of our Best of Public Golf issue, but we would like to remind all of our readers that to each his own. We have our fair share of disagreements when we’re putting together these rankings, and we expect our readers to enjoy debating about which courses they prefer as well. But let’s keep it civil! Remember, we all have preferences on amenities, course conditions, routing and layouts. Not everyone appreciates a course for the same reasons. So, enjoy and don’t forget to give us your thoughts via social media. You can find us on Twitter and Instagram: @AVIDGOLFERDFW, or feel free to drop us a line at editor@myavidgolfer.com.

2019  Dallas • Fort  Worth  Rankings  WEST*
The West Courses                                           Rates          What we like about it
1    Cowboys Golf Club                                  $199.95        Still the gold standard for service and amenities.
2    Texas Star Golf Course                           $77.00        Texas Star enjoyed their best conditions in years. It is the greenest course we saw.
3    Texas Rangers Golf Club                        $119.00      Once the clubhouse is complete, this will be a serious contender for the top spot.
4    Bridlewood Golf Club                              $85.00        Conditions at this facility are consisitently good and this year was no exception.
5    Wildhorse at Robson Ranch                   $83.00        Perhaps the best conditions we saw. Looking forward to the new nine opening.
6    Southern Oaks Golf Club                        $55.00        Really good golf course that went through an ownership transition this year.
7    Split Rail Golf Club                                  $59.00        A true hidden gem that should be on everyone’s day trip list.
8    Tierra Verde Golf Club                             $74.70        Still a quality older brother to Arlington’s new jewel Texas Rangers.
9    Sky Creek Ranch                                      $89.00        Improved conditions and a challenging layout move this course up a spot for 2019.
10  The Golf Club at Fossil Creek                 $74.95        One of Arnold Palmer’s better designs, it also may be his best use of bunkers.
11  Grapevine Golf Course                            $60.32        Not the kept secret it once was, but still a great choice with a strong layout.
12  Tour 18 Dallas                                          $89.00        Improved conditions this year make Tour 18 a viable option.
13  Bear Creek Golf Complex                        $55.95        Popular spot with an old school layout in the heart of the Metroplex.
14  Waterchase Golf Club                              $69.99        Course is still great, but an improvement here and there could be made.
15  SugarTree Golf Club                                $49.00        A fun layout on the Brazos with a true country feel and fantastic greens.
Honorable Mention (Listed Alphabetically)
Canyon West Golf Club                                 $42.00        Good layout, nice driving range and fun elevation changes make this a great value.
Cleburne Golf Links                                       $43.00        A clean layout with great views of the lake, and not one unnecessary bunker.
Cross Timbers Golf Course                           $44.00        The layout of the course promotes great scoring opportunities, especially on the par-4’s.
Hawks Creek Golf Club                                  $77.00        The doglegs, creek and strategically placed bunkers make this course a challenge.
Hidden Creek Golf Course                             $44.00        A fine, tight layout that is consisitently in good condition and very walkable.
Iron Horse Golf Club                                      $59.00        Rumors of major renovation seem to be real and we will be looking forward to it.
Lake Arlington Golf Course                           $28.50        Bunker-less layout enjoyed its best conditions in years.
Mansfield National Golf Club                        $60.00        Solid layout where the par-5s allow long hitters to score.
Meadowbrook Golf Course                            $41.00        We love this layout and wish the City of Fort Worth would give it a bit of love.
Oeste Ranch Golf Course                              $39.00        Fun routing that features water hazards on nearly every hole.
Pecan Valley – Hills Course                           $34.00        Solid bones that provide a fun test for beginners.
Pecan Valley – River Course                          $46.00        Recent renovations are definitley maturing nicely.
Riverside Golf Club                                        $49.95        Two distinct nines and a very challenging 18th hole.
Rockwood Park Golf Course                         $56.00        Yardage from tips is 7,000+ yards and makes it a great challenge.
The Golf Club at Champions Circle              $75.00        New owners putting all the money into hotel complex, but the course is worthy.
The Golf Club at the Resort                           $52.00        Some of the tightest fairways in the Metroplex, very playable if you are hitting your driver straight.
Whitestone Golf Club                                     $46.00        New management getting this course back to where it needs to be.
2019  Dallas • Fort  Worth  Rankings  EAST*
The East Courses                                                      Rates         What we like about it
1    The Old American Golf Club                   $150.00      Hosting an LPGA event keeps this course in immaculate condition.
2    The Tribute Golf Club                              $129.00      Can’t wait to see what the new owners do with the course after the first of the year.
3    Coyote Ridge Golf Club                           $75.00        Course is fun to play with one of the top clubhouses in the rankings.
4    Heritage Ranch Golf & Country Club      $80.00        Greeters in the parking lot are the best first impression on the list.
5    Tangle Ridge Golf Course                       $65.00        Risk-reward on finishing hole is a gambler’s dream.
6    Thorntree Golf Club                                 $49.00        Currently in private club condition, it stays a great value as long as it does.
7    Firewheel Golf Park, Bridges Course       $57.00        The last daily fee course left with bentgrass, and they are consistently great.
8    Frisco Lakes Golf Club                            $75.00        A popular golf course that will not beat you up.
9    Sherrill Park Golf Course, No. 1              $57.38        The renovation from a few years ago is really maturing well.
10  The Course at Watters Creek                  $59.00        A very popular course that is in consistently fine condition.
11  The Trails of Frisco Golf Club                 $59.95        Challenging layout that is better with a little course knowledge.
12  Indian Creek, Creeks Course                    $68.00        They recontoured the driving range so it will no longer flood.
13  The Bridges Golf Club                             $65.00        As the Metroplex expands, this course will naturally get more popular.
14  Pecan Hollow Golf Course                      $56.00        Big square tee boxes may be some of the best around.
15  Prairie Lakes Golf Course                       $50.00        BBQ at Eddlemon’s in the clubhouse is the cherry on top of a fun 27-hole layout.
Honorable Mention (Listed Alphabetically)
Buffalo Creek Golf Club                                 $64.00        Popular layout on the east side that needs a bunker update.
Cedar Crest Golf Course                               $43.00        Course renovation from a couple years ago has this city course back in good shape.
Country View Golf Club                                 $39.00        This course is really challenging because of the elevated and undulating greens.
Firewheel Golf Park, Old/Lakes Courses        $47.00        Good layouts that get a lot of play and need a bit of an update.
Grand Oaks Golf Club                                    $50.00        One of the few layouts in town with six par-5’s.
Lake Park Golf Course                                   $44.00        Underrated course with a driving range that has a great view of the lake.
Luna Vista Golf Course                                 $45.00        Full disclosure, the AG staff wears this place out to practice and play a quick nine after work.
Mesquite Golf Club                                        $49.00        For the price, these are some of the trickiest, slickest greens around.
Oak Hollow Golf Course                                $45.00        Course has some challenging holes and is more difficult than it seems.
Old Brickyard Golf Course                            $38.95        Quarry holes are the most picturesque with nice elevation changes.
Plantation Golf Club                                      $54.95        A tight layout that doesn’t require driver on many holes.
Ridgeview Ranch Golf Club                          $59.95        Well routed interesting par-3’s really highlight this track.
Riverchase Golf Club                                     $42.95        A year after being flooded, course was in remarkably good condition.
Rusted Rail Golf Club                                    $38.00        Noticeable improvements to course and amenities under new ownership.
Sherrill Park Golf Course, No. 2                    $42.22        Overshadowed by its older sibling, this course is still clearly a top value.
Stevens Park Golf Course                             $56.00        After a green mishap forced a summer closure, things are back to normal.
Stone River Golf Club                                    $42.00        Wide open course from 6,400 yards allows one to grip and rip it.
The Golf Club at Twin Creeks                       $52.95        Excellent layout that desperately needs some bridge renovations.
The Golf Club of Dallas                                  $59.95        If you’re looking to play an affordable Perry Maxwell design, look no further.
WestRidge Golf Course                                 $64.00        Tough year for greens but they are back to top standards.
Woodbridge Golf Club                                   $55.00        The dense foliage on the back nine make this a serene place to play.
*Highway 360 used as the dividing line between east and west.

BEST OVERALL CLUB

Surprise, surprise! Once again in 2019, Cowboys Golf Club is atop our rankings for the best overall public golf facility in DFW. I know it seems repetitive, as Cowboys has been in the No. 1 spot for as many years as it’s been open, but the more things change, the more they stay the same. Cowboys has been and is still the gold standard for which all other golf properties strive to replicate. From the great clubhouse to the wonderful food and beverages to the course itself, Cowboys brings the heat time in and time out. The course is scattered about an undulating piece of property that allows players wonderful vantage points of holes below. The fairways and greens are consistently great, even in years where competing courses may be struggling. Although 2019 was a great year for courses around the area, to be the champ, you have got to beat the champ. And we have yet to see a course that can K.O. this titan of Dallas-area golf. Kudos, Cowboys Golf Club. You’re once again at the top of the mountain.

Top Elite Courses

($80 and Above)

Bridlewood Golf Club (West)

Heritage Ranch Golf & Country Club (East)

Old American Golf Club (East)

Sky Creek Ranch Golf Club (West)

Texas Rangers Golf Club (West)

The Tribute Golf Club (East)

Tour 18 Golf Course (West)

Wildhorse at Robson Ranch (West)

Bridlewood Golf Club provides consistently great service and overall course conditions. Timber Creek and 25 acres of lakes gives players of any skill level a firm but fair test. If you haven’t seen Bridlewood, it’s among the best you can play in the area.

Heritage Ranch Golf and Country Club is a wonderful experience for those on the eastern side of the Metroplex. A 24,000-sq. ft. stately clubhouse overlooks a wonderfully designed 18-hole course. The layout features oak, pecan and cedar trees that wonderfully frame strategically placed water features. Rolling hills add to the experience as players must factor in shots based on the changes in elevation. From the time you arrive, Heritage Ranch has a country club feel. From the greeters in the parking lot to the staff in the pro-shop, you’ll be treated as if you were the only player on the property.

Old American Golf Club has quietly become one of the best courses in the area. This was year two for OA to host the Volunteers of America LPGA event, and this time around the weather cooperated and really showcased what a tremendous property this can be. At one time, Old American was considered to be a bit too difficult for the average golfer, but flooding a couple years back offered the club an opportunity to soften the course a bit and make it more manageable. The changes have been well received and Old American is now at the top of the mountain on the East side.

After a renovation two years ago, Sky Creek Ranch Golf Club underwent a few growing pains. As they often are, the new greens were firm and fast, which kept some players from enjoying all this course has to offer. After some more maturation, however, Sky Creek is now back where it belongs toward the top of the Elite category. Some tough par-3s compliment a well-routed course.

If there has been a more anticipated grand opening than Texas Rangers Golf Club, we can’t remember it. In all likelihood it may have been when it’s fellow pro sports branded Cowboys Golf Club opened back in 2001. Now almost two decades later, Rangers becomes the first course branded in partnership with a Major League Baseball franchise. A complete overhaul of the old Chester Ditto course in Arlington, John Colligan and his Project Architect Trey Kemp hit an absolute home run (pun intended) with this layout. The course is fair, with large fairways and some gettable par-5s. It has been so well-received that it was awarded a 2020 Korn Ferry Tour event. The Veritex Bank Championship will be held April 16-19 with a purse of $600,000. The only missing piece to the Rangers Club is the yet-to-be-completed clubhouse. Ground has been broken and construction is expected to be complete sometime early next year. Once the whole facility is finished, look for this new exciting course to start contending for the top spot in our annual rankings.

The Tribute Golf Club has long been one of the most fun courses in the area. The replica holes of across the pond are always entertaining for players of any skill level. With the course being right near Lake Lewisville, there are many occasions where the wind blows, and you really get that feeling of British Open golf. If you’re looking for a course to impress clients or somewhere for that birthday foursome, it doesn’t get much better than The Tribute.

We’ve always maintained that Tour 18 Golf Course in Flower Mound is one of the most fun rounds you can play in DFW. With replica holes from Augusta National, Southern Hills, Oakmont, Medina, TPC Sawgrass, Pine Valley, Doral and more, you really get the feeling of how some of the most recognizable holes in the United States play. Over recent years, management has really focused in on making the course a top-notch facility again and the hard work is starting to pay dividends. Tour 18 is returning to glory and is still a great round to squeeze into your rotation.

Wildhorse at Robson Ranch might not be a course than many are familiar with. This Denton property featured some of the best course conditions we saw this year. The clubhouse is clean and luxurious. Robson has a downhome country club feel that the general public rarely gets to experience. This course is definitely worth the trip to Denton.

Top Luxury Courses
($70-$79)

Coyote Ridge Golf Club (East)

Frisco Lakes Golf Club (East)

Texas Star Golf Club (West)

The Golf Club Fossil Creek (West)

Tierra Verde Golf Club (West)

When you think of luxury, you think of great amenities. Coyote Ridge Golf Club has just that, from the greeters in the parking lot, to the fantastic menu of food for players pre- or post-round, everything about this place is two thumbs up. Course conditions are always a cut above and the greens never disappoint. What’s not to like?

Frisco Lakes Golf Club has two distinct nines that make it challenging for any player. Heads up for the seventh and eighth holes, both of which feature water. Sure, these holes are great to look at, but on a windy day, they can certainly give you a handful. Frisco Lakes is a popular destination that won’t take a chunk out of your finances. If you only budget for one nice round a month, Frisco Lakes is a fantastic option.

After what we saw at Texas Star Golf Club in 2019, it’s truly hard to wrap our minds around this course only being in the Luxury category. In reality, the City of Euless could probably charge $15-$20 more in greens fees and they would still fill up the tee sheet. Texas Star was undoubtedly the greenest course we saw this year, a sentiment that was reinforced by talking to several regulars that frequent this public facility. Although the clubhouse could use a bit of sprucing up, the course was country club quality in 2019 and is a must-play at this rate.

The Golf Club at Fossil Creek in Fort Worth is one of the few Arnold Palmer designs you can play in the Metroplex and its steadily great conditions make it a great option for those in Fort Worth. Anyone looking to improve their iron game can benefit from a spin through Fossil, as these tiny greens will really test your approach shots from any distance.

Now that the new Texas Rangers Golf Club is up and running, Tierra Verde Golf Club is no longer the hot destination for those looking to play in the mid-cities. However, this is still a fantastic facility with a three-hole short course, lighted driving range, fantastic restaurant and 18 great golf holes. Just because Arlington got a new shiny toy doesn’t mean you can’t still play with the classics and Tierra continues to be one of the best courses in the area.

Top Premium Courses
($60-$69)

Grapevine Golf Course (West)

Indian Creek – Creeks (East)

Tangle Ridge Golf Course (East)

The Bridges Golf Club (East)

Waterchase Golf Club (West)

Although the secret has been out on Grapevine Golf Course for a while now, this 27-hole facility is still one of the best value muni’s in the area. Grapevine has fun routing with nice fairways, greens and bunkers. You will definitely appreciate how the City of Grapevine is able to maintain a course at this quality at the price point they charge. Not sure how they manage it, but hopefully they continue.

For the third straight year, the Creeks Course at Indian Creek finds itself on the list of top premium courses. A very convenient location makes this a great place for your group to meet for a round if you’re all coming from different areas. If Gary is from Fort Worth, Sal is from Denton, Jeff is from Dallas and Barry is from Duncanville, Indian Creek will be a similar drive for all. At less than $69, there is plenty of value as well.

Tangle Ridge Golf Course in Grand Prairie has long been a favorite of ours here at AG. A top-flight friendly staff is always ready to take care of your every need. The golf course is loaded with elevation changes and every hole is unique, making this one of our favorite courses to play year in and year out. It sounds simple, but the scented ice towels during the summer are just one example of how Tangle Ridge makes you feel like you’re playing country club golf at a municipal rate. If you haven’t already, add Tangle Ridge to your rotation.

The Bridges Golf Club in Gunter could maybe be considered outlying, but it’s still only about 50 miles from DFW Airport, so we can definitely include it in our discussion. This Fred Couples design is one of the finest golf experiences in North Texas. Greens are great, sand traps are well maintained and there is a nice restaurant on property if you want to grab a bite before you head back south to Dallas. Overall, it’s worth the hour drive.

Although Waterchase Golf Club is working on 20 years without an actual clubhouse, it’s still a great spot for those looking for a golf-centric experience.  A winding front nine that features both tree-lined holes and links style layouts gives way to a back nine has three par-5s and three par-3s, so there is a chance for some tweeters as you work your way around. Sure, the clubhouse isn’t much to speak of, but the course is always great.

Top Mid-Priced Courses
($56-$60)

Bear Creek Golf Complex (West)

Firewheel Golf Park – Bridges Course (East)

Pecan Hollow Golf Course (East)

Sherrill Park Golf Course – No. 1 (East)

Split Rail Links & Golf Club (West)

The Course at Watters Creek (East)

The Trails of Frisco (East)

Bear Creek Golf Complex is a fan favorite and must-play golf course for all central DFW residents. With two 18-hole layouts that do a good job of utilizing the subtle elevation changes, both the East and the West courses are enjoyable to play. An expansive clubhouse that services both layouts means there is always plenty of activity around this property. Bottom line, the West course is our favorite, but both present challenges and a fun afternoon of golf.

Firewheel Golf Park Bridges Course boasts Bentgrass greens and even though that’s really all you need to say to get people through the doors, there is some more to this facility than just great greens. Subtlety in the fairways makes approach shots complex, strategically placed bunkers add some intrigue and large mature Oak trees frame the course wonderfully.

Pecan Hollow Golf Course has everything you want from a quality daily fee course. A lighted driving range, well-manicured bunkers, fairways and greens and an often-overlooked highlight are their perfect tee-boxes. Level and square, you’ll never feel like you’re hitting off hardpan. Originally designed by the great Don January in 1973, D.A. Weibring updated the layout in 2011 and it has been a large part of the Plano golf landscape ever since.

The No. 1 Course at Sherrill Park can best be described as “classic”. The layout is a timeless, old school assembly, rejuvenated by a multi-million-dollar renovation three years ago. The course has now settled back in and is the best municipal course the City of Richardson has to offer.

If you want a links-style course with a country feel, then look no further than Split Rail Golf Links in Aledo. Just about 20 minutes south of Downtown Fort Worth, this course opens with some links style holes before giving way to some tree-lined beauties on the inward nine. Conditions were top notch this year, with even staff claiming it is the best it has been since the course opened in 2002.

The Courses at Watters Creek is one of the most complete golf facilities in the area. They have a great 18-hole layout, but also one of the best practice facilities you will see at a daily fee course, with a driving range, multiple putting and chipping greens, a nine-hole course of par-4s and par-3s, and a separate six-hole short course. If you live in the area, it’s an absolute no-brainer to get out of the house and kill some time polishing your game.

The Trails of Frisco is another popular destination for local golfers. As the population boom continues north of Dallas proper, this will become an even more popular spot. The Trails of Frisco will test every club in your bag with some great doglegs and blind shots. A little local knowledge can really help navigate this great layout.

Top Value Priced Courses
($55 & Under)

Prairie Lakes Golf Course (East)

Southern Oaks Golf Club (West)

SugarTree Golf Club (West)

Thorntree Golf Club (East)

Often overshadowed by Tangle Ridge, Grand Prairie has another great golf option. With 27-holes to pique your interest, Prairie Lakes Golf Course is a true hidden gem. With some great holes along Mountain Creek Lake, Prairie Lakes can be a real test on days where the wind blows. Add a great dining experience in the clubhouse with Eddlemon’s Barbecue and you have the makings of a great afternoon on the course.

Southern Oaks Golf Club has seen their share of ups and downs in the past, but despite all the odd happenings at this property, they churn out a great golf course year after year. Just DAYS after our 2018 Best of Public issue hit shelves, employees of Southern Oaks showed up to work to see a chain link fence surrounding the property. The course had closed overnight without warning. Fast forward to another change in ownership, which moved the clubhouse to the smaller tennis facility that stands behind what once was the jumping off point, and things are basically back to normal. Although the bar and restaurant are gone, the course is still fantastic, and we hope it stays that way.

SugarTree Golf Club is another course that, depending on where you hitch your wagon in the Metroplex could be a hike. If you’re on the Tarrant side, then SugarTree will set you back about 45 minutes give or take, but from North of Dallas, you could be looking at upward of 90 minutes. Regardless of the commute, SugarTree has some of the best greens we saw in 2019. Pair that with a true down-home feel, some great views of the Brazos River and a fantastic rate and this course is absolutely worth a little bit of a hike.

Thorntree Golf Club is entering year two since becoming a public track. If it’s country club golf you’re looking for at a truly mind-blowing rate, then Thorntree is a must-see. This layout is one of our favorites in the area, and now that the daily fee golfer can get on the property and check it out, you’re fresh out of excuses.

Best Outlying

Pine Dunes Golf Club ($89)

The Links at Land’s End ($89)

Squaw Valley Golf Club ($62)

Pine Dunes Golf Club in Frankston might be one of the best golf values in the state. The course is surrounded by majestic pines that make you feel as if you’re in the deep woods of Georgia. The echo of shots ring through the trees providing a sensory overload. Now be aware, the clubhouse is no frills, so it’s likely your group will play and then be back on the road shortly after the round.

The Links at Land’s End is on a beautiful piece of property overlooking Lake Fork. The views are amazing, the visible wildlife is abundant and many of the holes play right along the water. Another huge plus? Once you are done playing, Lake Fork boasts some great fishing. So, take a trip up, do some early morning angling and then tee it up in the afternoon.

Squaw Valley Golf Club in Glen Rose has two top of the food chain golf courses– Apache Links and Comanche Lakes– that are framed in by mighty Oak trees and the majesty of Squaw Creek, which winds its way around the property.We suggest making the drive on a long summer day and playing 36 holes.

Not Ranked

Although Irving Golf Club is now open, the course will need a bit of time to mature and we felt it would be best to wait until 2020 to officially rank this Colligan Golf renovation. Suffice it to say, however, this is another quality redesign from John Colligan and Trey Kemp. The same design team that brought us Texas Rangers Golf Club and the renovation at Rockwood Park in Fort Worth. IGC is a fun track and worth your time.

The Lakes Course at Indian Creek is expected to open sometime in November 2019.

Currently Being Renovated

None