For the 50+ Traveler

I’ve always heard one thing about golf in Texas: The municipal courses are amazing. And from my experience, that’s true. The municipal courses I’ve played in Texas are significantly better than the munis in my home state.

That means you will see several municipal courses on the list below. Texas has a lot of great private clubs (it feels like you can’t drive five miles in the Dallas-Fort Worth area without passing an incredible country club), but there’s also incredible public golf. And not all of it comes with Texas-sized fees.

The list below has nine courses that will leave you feeling like you should have paid more. These are the $100 courses that play like $200 rounds and $35 courses that seem like they should cost $70.

Note: I rate the cost of each course (for 18 holes, in most cases) in dollar signs from $ to $$$$.

  • $: $35 or less
  • $$: $35 to $65
  • $$$: $65 to $100
  • $$$$: $100 and up

1. Brackenridge Park Golf Course, San Antonio

Cost: $$$

We have to start with a muni. And what better course to kick us off than the oldest muni in Texas?

Brackenridge Park Golf Course has a long history which includes the PGA Tour. The Valero Texas Open is the sixth-oldest tournament on the PGA Tour, and its original location was this course. Both Byron Nelson and Sam Snead won the tournament when it was played at Brackenridge Park.

Plan for a full day here because it’s also the location for the Texas Golf Hall Of Fame. There’s tremendous golf history in Texas -- the first class inducted into the Hall Of Fame included Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, and Lee Trevino -- so take some time to check out the “walk of fame” section.

2. Teravista Golf Club, Round Rock

Cost: $$

Round Rock is located just north of Austin, so this is golf in the Texas Hill Country. And they boast views of 50 miles from some of the tee boxes, so this is not golf out on the plains.

But that’s not the best thing about Teravista Golf Club. If you’ve heard of the course before, it’s probably been part of a sentence like “Can you believe a course like this has rates like that?” Rolling hills, great greens, pristine conditions, and on a Thursday afternoon, you can get a 1:15 tee time for $39 (18 holes with a cart).

There’s a lot of great golf in the corridor between Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin. But you won’t find a single course in that area with better golf for the money.

3. Comanche Lakes Course At Squaw Valley GC In Glen Rose

Cost: $$

This is a popular destination for golfers in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, especially on the southern side of the Metroplex. Golf can get very expensive around Dallas, so a 60-mile drive to play an amazing course at Squaw Valley GC on a Saturday morning for $59 is worth the hour in the car. And if you’re vacationing in the Glen Rose area and don’t need to make the drive, even better.

There are two courses here, so play both if you can, but if you can only play one, make it Comanche Lakes. And if you’re over the age of 50, you qualify for the senior rates and can play this great golf course on a Friday morning for $36. Incredible.

4. Panther Trail Golf Course At The Woodlands Resort In The Woodlands

Cost: $$$$

Texas has so many great golf resorts. They can get pricey, obviously, so choosing a course to play at one of the resorts can be difficult. But in Texas, it feels like the Panther Trail course at The Woodlands Resort has to be the choice for a list like this.

I’m taking a trip to a golf resort in two weeks, and I’ll be paying $250 for each round. So the fact that a tee time can be had at Panther Trail for less than half of that means you’re getting an incredibly well-priced round. There are two courses at the resort, so if you have the time, play them both, but if you can only play one, make it Panther Trail. Texas golf at its finest.

5. Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course, Laredo

Cost: $$

Owned by the City of Laredo, “The Max” is yet another great municipal course in Texas. This course opened in 2012, so it’s not your average local muni owned by the parks department. It was designed by Robert Trent Jones II and is consistently rated as one of the top munis in Texas.

The course has very diverse tee boxes as well. It seems like many munis are set up with three tee boxes that make the course play either 5,500 yards, 6,000 yards, or 6,500 yards. The Max has five tee boxes that play anywhere from 4,700 yards to a beastly 7,200 yards. So pick out your tees and go take on The Max!

6. Butterfield Trail Golf Club, El Paso

Cost: $$$

One of Texas’s best golf courses is under new management and can now go back in your rotation! In August of 2020, Spirit Golf Management took over management of this course and has vowed to restore it to its original glory. Butterfield Trail Golf Club, which had been managed by the local airport authority, had closed at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic due to budget cuts. But now it’s back open.

This Tom Fazio design had been hailed as one of the top munis in all of the Southwest. It was a true shame to see it close. While it’s an unfortunate reality that municipal courses struggle to stay afloat during economic downturns, this one was especially tough given that it was consistently rated as one of the top courses in Texas. Now that it’s back open, get yourself to El Paso and go play!

7. Big Easy Ranch, Columbus

Cost: $$$$

This is a uniquely Texas experience. I don’t think you’ll find many opportunities like this anywhere else in the country. Big Easy Ranch is a “sporting club” where you can experience all kinds of outdoor activity. Try to picture this: You wake up in your luxurious cabin. After breakfast, you have a golf lesson scheduled with PGA Championship winner Hal Sutton. Then it’s time to shoot some clays on the gun range. After that, lunch prepared by the chef. In the afternoon, golf the Big Easy Ranch par-3 course (already ranked one of the top 10 par-3 courses in the world). Then it’s a dinner and wine tasting from the ranch’s award-winning wine selection. And if you still have something left in you, maybe a few more holes of golf before dusk.

Yes, the whole experience is an expensive trip, and this is a “best golf courses for the money” list. But the golf here is so unique that it must go on this list. Think of it as a weekend at a luxury sporting club with free golf, and note that the $$$$ rating is only because lodging is required.

8. Mustang Course At Ross Rogers Golf Complex In Amarillo

Cost: $

Another muni, another incredible golf deal. Of any golf course listed here, The Mustang Course at Ross Rogers Golf Complex is the cheapest. But that doesn’t mean bumpy greens and burnt-out fairways. This is great golf for a crazy-low price.

When I say crazy-low, I mean crazy. Get this: Depending on the time of day, you can walk the Mustang course on a Saturday or Sunday for $20. That’s the weekend rate! You can walk it during the week for $17. If you want to add a cart, it’s $15, so that takes you all the way up to $35 on the weekend. Play it three times for what you’d typically spend on a single round of golf.

9. The Bandit Golf Club, New Braunfels

Cost: $$$

Are you seeing a theme here? This is true Texas golf with courses named Mustang and The Bandit. The Bandit Golf Club is more great golf in the Hill Country just north of San Antonio. And since I’m mentioning San Antonio, making a golf trip out of the first course on this list (Brackenridge Park) and this course (The Bandit) sounds like the perfect weekend golf getaway.

The Bandit is the perfect course to end on. Great conditions, a great piece of property, and course fees that won’t break the bank. And if you have kids or grandkids you want to take golfing, even better -- The Bandit allows all kids under 18 to play for free when they accompany a paying adult. Two adults golfing? Add two teenagers to your group for free.