DALLAS -- The Dallas-Fort Worth area has a wealth of good to really good public golf courses. But what may surprise you is that it has one of the best collections of municipals courses in the country. Both Dallas and Fort Worth proper have some pretty good munis, but even better are that many of the suburbs have some outstanding municipal layouts by some pretty good designers. Best of all, they're all very affordable. Here's a rundown of some my favorites:
Tenison Park in Dallas
Only a 10-minute drive from downtown Dallas, you'll find the 36 holes of Tenison Park, which traces its history back to 1924. The Tenison Park Highlands Course, which was redesigned by Weibring in 2001, is one of the most popular in the Metroplex. The 7,100-yard, par-72 layout features five lakes, 32 bunkers and Tif-Eagle greens among groves of hardwoods.
The facility's original 18 holes, the Glen Course, isn't too shabby either. Some pretty famous players, including Lee Trevino, used to find a few games at Dallas' first municipal golf course. In 1968, the Glen Course hosted the USGA Pub Links Championship.
Tierra Verde Golf Club in Arlington
Tierra Verde Golf Club, an Audubon Signature Sanctuary golf course designed by David Graham and Gary Panks, opened in 1998. Always in good shape, the par-72, 6,975-yard layout routes through a natural setting of wetlands, trees and meadows. Just as impressive, however, is the Ventana, which features an eclectic menu rarely found at public golf courses. In addition to the usual golf course fare of hot dogs and hamburgers, the Ventana Grille offers an array of gourmet tapas, stuffed peppers and chicken empanadas. The club even includes a lighted driving range.
Just a 15-minute drive from Cowboys Stadium, Grapevine Golf Course remains one of just a handful of golf courses designed by the Byron Nelson. It's such a good municipal that the staff here dislikes the connotation that often accompanies such facilities. In the late 1990s, the course was renovated and got a new nine holes, designed by D.A. Weibring, to bring the facility to 27 holes. The layout, conditioning and topography -- including elevated tee shots, streams and ponds -- say "upscale daily fee," but the prices and unpretentious service say otherwise.
Texas Star Golf Course in Euless
Only 10 minutes from DFW International Airport, Texas Star Golf Course is another DFW municipal gems. Designed by Keith Foster, this par-71 golf course measures just less than 7,000 yards. With plenty of elevation change and bentgrass greens, the golf course almost offers a Texas Hill Country feel. Foster made good use of Hurricane Creek, which plays an integral role on several holes, while other areas have something of a Scottish links flavor. A clubhouse with locker rooms, a grill and well stocked pro shop complete the experience.
Pecan Valley golf course in Fort Worth
In Fort Worth, there are a few munis worth checking out. Don't miss the courses at Pecan Valley, originally designed by Ralph Plummer in 1963. The two 18-hole golf courses are separated by the Clear Fork of the Trinity River. The River Course can play as long as 6,600 yards. Pecan Valley's Hills Course -- where the back nine were designed by Dave Bennet and added in 1982 -- is a little shorter than the River Course. Several hundred trees were been planted and are just beginning to mature.
Plummer also had a hand in Fort Worth's Rockwood golf course, but he did the upgrade on this 1938 John Bredemus design. The "Rock," as it's known, is a 6,430-yard par 71 and a great example of the old style of golf course architecture. It's also the home of the First Tee of Fort Worth and the Ben Hogan Learning Center, which opened in 2011. On the horizon is a new short course called "The River's Edge," being designed Colligan Golf Design.