Texas top 10: Top public courses near Houston

My top 10 public golf courses in the Houston area

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Round Trip Feature: Houston

HOUSTON -- One of the great things about the host course for the PGA Tour's Houston Open is that it's open to the public. And although the rack rate, which includes a forecaddie, approaches $200 during prime season, Houston-area daily-fee golf might be among the most affordable in the country.

In fact, the Golf Club of Houston (formerly Redstone Golf Club) is the only daily-fee course in the area significantly over $100. Black Horse Golf Club and Wildcat Golf Club are right around $100 during peak times on weekends, but you can usually play them for less. Most quality courses in the Houston area are in the $40 to $60 range.

So if you're in town for the Houston Open or in the Bayoui City on business or pleasure any other time of the year, here are my picks for the top 10 courses in the Houston area, regardless of price.

For the most part, I kept the courses within a half hour or so of downtown, with the exception of The Wilderness in Lake Jackson, southwest of Houston.

A couple others that also might be worth the drive would include the very affordable municipals, Eagle Pointe Golf Club in Mont Belvieu to the east, and Moody Gardens Golf Course in Galveston.

Top 10 public courses in Houston

10. Augusta Pines Golf Club

Spring, Texas
This former home of the Insperity Championship on the Champions Tour is owned by one of the previous owners of Tour 18. But instead of 18 replica holes, Augusta Pines is inspired by Augusta National and Pinehurst to create an enjoyable championship test.

9. The Wilderness Golf Course

Lake Jackson, Texas
For those not familiar with the area, this Jeff Brauer-designed Audubon Sanctuary course qualifies as a hidden gem. It's a solid championship golf course on a beautiful piece of land with imaginative holes, including a par 5 that ends with a green that's 180 feet long.

8. Wildcat Golf Club's Highlands Course

There are two 18-hole courses at Wildcat, both designed by Roy Case, both built on a landfill and old oil field, and both feature great views of the city and NRG Stadium. The Highlands is links style and perhaps the better of the two courses, while Wildcat's Lakes Course, as you might guess, has plenty of water and actually a little elevation change.

7. Tour 18 Houston

Humble, Texas
This is the original replica course. And while there are other courses that have tried to mimic Amen Corner at Augusta, Tour 18 Houston might have the best rendition. Plus, there's the island green from the PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, church pew bunkers of Oakmont, The Blue Monster and many other fun imitations.

6. Meadowbrook Farms Golf Club

Katy, Texas
One of Greg Norman's better designs, Meadowbrook Farms made quite a splash when it opened in 1999. The layout features some of the area's best risk-reward holes, especially when it comes to the par 5s.

5. Memorial Park Golf Course

This original 1936 John Bredemus design in the middle of the city played host to the Houston Open from 1951 to 1963 and was wonderfully restored in 1995. Today, at more than 7,300 yards, this parkland layout is the home of the Greater Houston City Amateur.

Update: Learn more about the new Memorial Park Golf Course, designed by Tom Doak and now the home of the Houston Open.

4. BlackHorse Golf Club's South Course

Cypress, Texas
Another terrific, 36-hole facility, the South Course is more memorable of the two Jim Hardy-Peter Jacobsen designs northwest of Houston, primarily because of the quarry holes on the back nine. Always meticulously maintained, the facility also has excellent practice facilities, dining and a golf shop.

3. Woodforest Golf Club

Montgomery, Texas
Designed by local resident and former PGA Tour player Steve Elkington, Woodforest Golf Club, located just north of The Woodlands, just keeps getting better with time. The 27-hole facility has played host to numerous high-level amateur events and Champions Tour qualifying. It also just got a brand new clubhouse.

2. Cypresswood Golf Club's Tradition Course

Spring, Texas
Down to 36 holes after one course closed a few years ago, the pine tree-lined Cypresswood Golf Club has two solid layouts in the Traditions Course and Cypress Course. Both have played host to Shell Houston Open qualifier, but the Tradition Course, which has been the site of PGA Tour Qualifying tournaments, is exceptional with its beautiful routing, no homes and excellent conditioning.

(Note: Cypresswood has been closed because of damage by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, but is expected to reopen in April 2018.)

1. Golf Club of Houston Tournament Course

Humble, Texas
Although the course isn't very walkable, the host site for the Shell Houston Open has the best collection of holes of any daily fee in the area. It's also the best conditioned, especially in the spring right before and after the Masters, since it's heavily overseeded. Most importantly, architect Rees Jones created 18 memorable holes with plenty of water and a dynamite finishing stretch.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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The wilderness is definetly a hidden gem it’s my home course. It always has a different challenge everyday, nothing stays the same.

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I wrote this article before the renovations at Memorial Park and Gus Wortham. I play Gus Wortham regularly now and would put it near the top of the list too now. It's the new home of the Houston City Am, and the HGA does a wonderful job managing and maintaining it. In fact, it's their baby, and I hope they get to remake another Houston muni. They're building the new clubhouse out there right now, so it's only getting better.

Commented on

Gus wortham has improved a lot and the new clubhouse is nice. Played there last Thursday and the greens were rolling true and smooth. Club house just need to get cups for ice. Since they don’t want u to bring your own cups.

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What they have done to Gus Wortham is almost hard to believe. I’ve played over 150 courses, and on a recent trip out there...the greens were the fastest I’ve ever played. High Meadow Ranch is better than most on this list. Cypresswood Tradition doesn’t belong anymore. The newly updated Memorial, is a must play.

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Gus Wortham what an upgrade, great 1st 9 and over-all in my top 10 public courses.Much improved Memorial Park.

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The new Gus Wortham is awesome. I rank it ahead of Tour 18, Meadowbrook Farms and Wildcat Highlands. In fact, those three courses don't make my Top 10.

The Top 5 local courses are Cypresswood Tradition, Memorial Park, Woodforest, Wilderness and Golf Club of Houston Tournament Course (when it's in good condition).

The next best include Blackhorse South, Gus Wortham, Moody Gardens, High Meadow Ranch, Eagle Pointe and Woodlands Panther Trail.

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Mike I’m possibly putting together a trip in late October 2019 for a friends 50th. If you could suggest a hotel in the Houston area and courses to play, I would be most greaful. We are looking to play 4 rounds.

Many thanks

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I'd put High Meadow Ranch ahead of most on this list. I think it is a top 5 course.

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Totally Agree on the Wilderness. Not only is the course incredible but the staff .... wow. They have always treated us like family.

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My top 10 public golf courses in the Houston area