Courses and Travel

The Top Texas Tour Venues That You Can Play -- Ranked!

Shell Houston Open a Last Minute Tune-Up for Masters
The Shell Houston Open provides all players a last chance to fine tune their game before heading to Augusta National next week, and some players a chance to still get there.

Austin Country Club proved a handsome, worthy test last week for the PGA Tour’s WCC-Dell Match Play. Unfortunately, you can't tee it up there unless you’re a guest of a member. This week, the PGA Tour goes public at the Golf Club of Houston, home to the Shell Houston Open. Later this spring, the PGA Tour delivers two additional Texas tournaments at venues that welcome outside play, the Valero Texas Open at the TPC San Antonio and the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship in suburban Dallas, where resort guests can tackle Nelson’s old haunt, the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas. Here are the top eight Texas Tour courses, past and present, that you can play.

1. Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa (Fazio Foothills), Austin;; $120-$250


Home to the Senior set’s Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf from 1990-1994, the original of Barton Creek’s courses saw the teams of Lee Trevino/Mike Hill and Dale Douglass/Charles Coody both win twice. A longtime member of GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play, this 1986 Tom Fazio design climbs out of valleys and plunges into woods before concluding with the memorable par-5 18th, a favorite hole of George W. Bush, which tangles with a natural limestone cave.

2. TPC San Antonio (AT&T Oaks), San Antonio;; $229-$299


Guests of the next-door JW Marriott have access to the home of the Valero Texas Open, though this home is not always welcoming. Just ask Kevin Na, who made a 16 on the par-4 ninth in 2011. It’s imperative to be precise on this Greg Norman/Sergio Garcia collaboration, so it’s no surprise Adam Scott won the first edition played here in 2010. Slender fairways, steep bunkers, topsy-turvy greens and abundant oaks contribute to the challenge.

3. TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas, Irving;; $120-$215


Las Colinas has played host to the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship since 1983. In 1987, architect Jay Morrish retrofitted the Las Colinas Sports Club into a TPC layout and since then, winners have included Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Keegan Bradley. Guests of the on-site Four Seasons enjoy a stellar closing stretch, including the strategy-laced, water-guarded par-4 14th and the dramatic gallery favorite par-3 17th, redesigned by D.A. Weibring to bring the lake closer to the action.

4. Golf Club of Houston (Tournament), Humble;; $99-$240


A modern bomb-and-gouge track by Rees Jones (with David Toms consulting) that’s set up at tournament time to mimic Augusta National, its winners since it debuted in 2006 include Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and Hunter Mahan. Formerly known as Redstone, this wide yet watery layout closes in big-boy fashion, with a 481-yard par-4. A lake left, and a bunker right squeeze the landing area, though even if you split the middle, liquid disaster still lurks for the pulled approach—just ask 2014 victim Matt Kuchar.

5. La Cantera Golf Club (Resort), San Antonio;; $79-$140


Former University of Texas great Justin Leonard triumphed three times over this Tom Weiskopf/Jay Morrish creation that played host to the Texas Open from 1995 through 2009, twice shooting 19-under-par 261 in the process. La Cantera’s front nine is backdropped by a roller-coaster at the Six Flags Amusement Park next door, which illuminates the fun factor here. Wide fairways and large, if shallow splashes of sand lead to aggressive play, such as in 2008, when Zach Johnson closed with 62-64 to win.

6. Brackenridge Park, San Antonio;; $50-$75


This 1915 A.W. Tillinghast-designed muni hosted 21 Texas Opens, beginning with the first edition in 1922. Walter Hagen, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson are among the Hall-of-Famers who captured titles here, but the most historic feat occurred in 1955, when Mike Souchak set the all-time PGA Tour scoring record with a 27-under-par 257. Architects John Colligan and Trey Kemp recently restored the flat-bottom bunkers and re-routed the back nine to bring oaks, pecans and the San Antonio River more into play.

7. TPC San Antonio (AT&T Canyons), San Antonio;; $179-$259


Another Tour-worthy layout available to JW Marriott guests, this Pete Dye/Bruce Lietzke creation was a recent venue for the PGA Tour Champions San Antonio Championship. Wider and hillier than its AT&T Oaks sibling, many of its holes overlook a 750-acre nature preserve. Fred Couples won the inaugural here in 2011. David Frost, Kenny Perry and Michael Allen have triumphed since then.


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