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San Antonio Golf

San Antonio's golf boom isn't a boom so much as it's a slow-detonating charge. There hasn't been a huge explosion of golf courses in a very short period of time; rather, there's been consistent growth since the early 1990s.

And during that time, San Antonio has turned into one of the top golf destinations in the U.S., not just for its selection of excellent courses, but because nearly all the courses that have been built during that time are public courses. More are on the way. The PGA of America is building its second PGA Village - featuring two top-tier courses and a resort hotel - in San Antonio, with opening projected for 2006.

San Antonio's geographic location - straddling the Balcones Fault, the demarcation line between South Texas scrub brush and Central Texas' Hill Country - makes for a great variety of golf course designs.

The San Antonio municipal course in Brackenridge Park is the oldest municipal in Texas and site of many historic Texas Opens. It doesn't make our Top 10 list, but it's worth a visit if you're interested in playing where Hagen, Hogan and Nelson played.

We should mention another municipal that doesn't make our Top 10 list, but only because of conditions. Cedar Creek Municipal is a fantastic layout, one of the best layouts in town. But it's in a location on the city's Hill Country edges that is experiencing a lot of growth, driving the native wildlife out onto the course. Feral hogs periodically tear up large chunks of turf at Cedar Creek. But if you happen to catch the course in good shape, you'll be very happy you played. Judged strictly on layout, it's one of the best munis in the Southwest.

Below are our picks for the Top 10 public courses in San Antonio area, along with some honorable mentions and a list of the municipal courses in the area.

(Note: Green fees are rated as $, $$ or $$$; $ denotes a course in the least expensive third of courses in the area; $$ in the middle and $$$ in the most expensive third. Actual rates may vary seasonally or from year to year, so always make sure you know the actual rates before going to a course.)

1. Pecan Valley Golf Club ($$$)
Site of the 1968 PGA Championship, Pecan Valley - designed by Press Maxwell - is built in a former pecan orchard. Large, majestic trees throughout; fast, challenging greens. A collection of 18 great holes. Southeast of Downtown.
• Phone: (210) 333-9018 | Web site

2. The Palmer Course - Westin La Cantera Resort ($$$)
Not as well known as La Cantera's other course, The Palmer Course opened more recently and was designed by Arnold Palmer. Stunning scenery and spectacular views. Warning: This is one tough course. Lots of holes play uphill and there are many blind shots. If you're not a low-handicapper, bring lots of balls. Northwest, near Fiesta Texas.
• Phone: (800) 446-5387 | Web site

3. Hill Country Golf Club - Hyatt Hill Country Resort ($$$)
This understated, elegant Arthur Hills design likely won't wow you the way La Cantera's courses do. It's just a great, all-around golf experience. Lots of trees, with the back nine particularly tight, and tricky greens. Northwest, near Sea World.
• Phone: (210) 647-1234 | Web site

4. Canyon Springs Golf Club ($$)
This course's reputation has risen and fallen with its conditions. But new owners acquired the course in 2003, restoring conditions to match its layout. Choose tees carefully - there are quite a few forced carries over thick vegetation.
• Phone: (210) 497-1770 | Web site

5. The Resort Course - Westin La Cantera Resort ($$$)
The Resort Course is home to the PGA Tour Texas Open and famous for its elevation changes. Many holes play downhill from tee-to-fairway or tee-to-green. On the "Cliff Hole," golfers tee off from an 80-foot limestone cliff. Plays easier than its yardage due to many holes playing downhill. Northwest, adjacent to Fiesta Texas.
• Phone: (800) 446-5387 | Web site

6. The Bandit ($)
About 30 minutes from Downtown in New Braunfels. Regularly regarded as one of the best bargains in the area, a great course with a moderate green fee. Also known as one of the more challenging courses in the area. New Braunfels (northeast).
• Phone: (888) 923-7846 | Web site

7. SilverHorn Golf Club of Texas ($$)
SilverHorn is sometimes overlooked in discussions of the best San Antonio golf, but it shouldn't be. It's a classic course tucked away in secluded corner, not too far from the airport, that always features great conditions and interesting holes. North Central.
• Phone: (210) 545-5300 | Web site

8. The Republic ($)
One of the newer courses in San Antonio immediately gained a reputation for excellent conditions. It features wide fairways and big greens on most holes, so scoring is possible. And the par-5s are all excellent risk-reward holes. Southeast of Downtown.
• Phone: (210) 359-0000 | Web site

9. Olympia Hills Golf Course ($)
A municipal course owned by the San Antonio bedroom community of Universal City, most of Olympia Hills is cut from the trees and hills just off Interstate 35 on the Northeast side. Some great views from elevated tees, and all the par-3s play downhill.
• Phone: 210-945-4653 | Web site

10. Tapatio Springs Resort ($$)
Located in Boerne, about 20 minutes outside San Antonio, Tapatio Springs boasts three nines. And each one is pretty with plenty of trees and hills. But the "Ridge" nine is particularly known for great scenery. Boerne (northwest)
• Phone: (800) 999-3299 | Web site

Honorable Mention
• The Quarry ($$$)
• River Crossing Golf Club ($$) (Spring Branch)
• Woodlake Golf Club ($)
• The Buckhorn ($) (Comfort)
• Golf Club of Texas ($$)
• Cedar Creek Municipal ($)

Area Municipal Courses
• San Antonio
  Cedar Creek
  Mission del Lago
  Olmos Basin
Note: All of these are excellent courses, but conditions can be spotty, especially at Cedar Creek, Riverside and Brackenridge.

• Universal City
  Olympia Hills

• New Braunfels
  Landa Park

• Seguin
  Starcke Park

• Kerrville

• Fredericksburg
  Lady Bird Johnson

Back to Texas Golf Homepage

For more about golf in this area, visit San Antonio Golf.

Visit the Texas Golf blog for more information about golf in Texas.


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