San Antonio's top golf courses for shotmakers

SAN ANTONIO -- Use all the shots in your golf bag on your San Antonio golf vacation. It's what Ben Hogan would have wanted.

With a storied history hosting many of Texas' great legends such as Hogan, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead and Ben Crenshaw, the Alamo City has a rich pedigree as a stage for some of the state's top shotmakers.

Today, the legacy of challenging golf is alive and well in the Hill Country courses around San Antonio. A new era of course design has arrived in San Antonio, adding more length and golf on more severe, rocky terrain. A.W. Tillinghast's torch at Brackenridge Park has been carried on by such designers as Pete Dye, Greg Norman, Arthur Hills and Randy Heckenkemper.

A golf trip to San Antonio will reveal who the true players are, especially if the Hill Country breeze is prevalent and your group books a tee time on one of these top golf courses for shotmakers.

TPC San Antonio AT&T Oaks Course

The new Valero Texas Open host on the PGA Tour is already earning infamy: Miss a shot at the TPC San Antonio AT&T Oaks Course, and you could score a Kevin Na-like 16 on the ninth hole or any other 17 here.

Designed by Greg Norman with player consultant Sergio Garcia, deep bunkers, tight fairways and well protected, multi-level greens are ever present throughout what can be proclaimed as Texas' toughest new golf course that is available to guests of the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort.

Save par from a deep fairway bunker on the Oaks, and consider yourself in rare company.

It's not often a Pete Dye-designed course is built as the easier of two at a golf club, but Dye's AT&T Canyons Course next door does offer a little more room off the tee, plus more elevation change compared to the gently rolling Oaks. But it's still one of the area's toughest.

Silverhorn Golf Club

With tree-lined fairways and a wealth of water and sand, Silverhorn Golf Club will challenge even the best swings Texas has to offer.

The course rolls more subtly through traditional parkland terrain with oaks and cactus, rather than some of the more severe and rocky Hill Country plays in the area.

Architect Randy Heckenkemper called upon PGA Tour pros Willie Wood and Scott Verplank for assistance in creating a test that would satisfy low-handicappers at Silverhorn. The result is a 6,922-yard course with a 138 slope from the championship tees.

Hill Country Golf Club

With greens guarded tightly by bunkers, lakes and creek beds, 27-hole Hill Country Golf Club at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort will demand the best from shotmakers.

Arthur Hills-designed greens can be tough to reach safely, thanks to their various shapes, steep run-off areas and trouble surrounding them. Here, they can be especially challenging to hit in regulation, even with a short iron.

Top resort amenities and conditions, including golf cart GPS, will ensure shotmakers can be precise with their approach shots.

Palmer Course at Westin La Cantera Resort

The PGA Tour may have played the Resort Course at Westin La Cantera for 15 years at the Texas Open. But the Troon Golf-managed staff at 36-hole La Cantera will unanimously agree it's the newer Palmer Course that is the tougher play at this Hill Country Resort.

While the Resort Course has wider landing areas and more opportunities to bump-and-run shots to the green, there is little room for error both off the tee and around the greens on the rough and tumble Palmer terrain. Several uphill, blind tee shots and elevated greens put real premium on ball striking.

If you can thread the needle with a driver on certain holes, you could very well set up some pitch-and-putt birdie tries.

Canyon Springs Golf Club

With a round beginning with two longhorn cattle sending you off to the first tee, and culminating with a towering waterfall behind the 18th green, they do things big at Canyon Springs Golf Club.

The course, designed by Thomas Walker (formerly of Gary Player Design), is a qualifying site for the Champions Tour's AT&T Championship and features a mix of trees and more open links-style terrain to navigate.

The 7,000-plus-yard course features greens of every shape and size, sometimes as long as three clubs deep, with some difficult pin positions.

Brackenridge Park Golf Course

Not every shotmakers course has to be a 7,000-plus-yard brute. For a step back in time, check out restored Brackenridge Park Golf Course. This municipal gem designed by A.W. Tillinghast dates back to 1916 and is the original host of the Texas Open.

Following a major renovation project, 21st century golfers will still need precision and accuracy to find the elevated greens and find fairways lined with mature trees that, at times, will require a ball-shaped on demand for Position A.

Find a way to play the par-4 16th hole, which has both a tree in the fairway and a creek running across, and consider yourself a true San Antonio shotmaker.

Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for GolfPass and was the founding editor of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at @btuck34.

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San Antonio's top golf courses for shotmakers