HOUSTON -- The Houston area has just one golf course that's routinely more than $100 to play, and that's the Golf Club of Houston's Tournament Course, the host course of the Houston Open set up to emulate conditions at Augusta National in an effort to lure more top-ranked players to Houston.
So golf in Houston is fairly affordable, but some courses are more affordable than others. In fact, they're bargains.
With that said, though, I need to differentiate between cheap golf and bargains. There are plenty of courses that cost less than $50 to play, but many of them lack the conditioning and layout that makes them bargains.
Here are eight courses that offer fairly low green fees, good design and above-average conditions:
Memorial Park in Houston
Arguably, Houston has just one classic public layout that has earned a national reputation -- Memorial Park, which underwent a renovation in 1996 and has been ranked among the top municipal golf courses in the country by several national publications.
Site of the annual city amateur championship, this 1936 John Bredemus design located in the heart of the city is close to 7,300 yards long and still a bargain with green fees less than $50 and even less for juniors and seniors (who pay $15 to walk during the week). Tee times, however, aren't easy to get, but they're not impossible (books them online) with a little patience. It's closed on Tuesdays, by the way.
Eagle Pointe in Mont Belvieu
Eagle Pointe benefits from the fact that it's a municipal and is able to not only offer local residents a membership for annual fees that are too low to publish, but visitors get to play a championship course.
It features tall pines, streams and a rolling terrain, in great condition for very little green. The facility also has great practice facilities.
Quail Valley in Missouri City
The one-time private club at Quail Valley in Missouri City is now a municipal facility that escaped the clutches of development a few years ago.
Once the site of the Houston Open, the El Dorado Course, recently renovated by architect Jeff Blume, is enjoying a tremendous resurgence. The facility also includes the La Quinta Course, which also got some work done to it.
Moody Gardens Municipal in Galveston
Moody Gardens Golf Course is another municipal facility that found new life. It underwent a $16 million renovation by the design firm of Jacobson Hardy in 2008 only to get slammed by Hurricane Ike a couple of months later.
Fortunately, the new course was sodded with paspalum grass, which is salt water resistant, and despite the course's being flooded by one and a half feet of seawater, it was open for play just a couple of weeks after the storm. It also looks terrific.
The Links at Westfork in Conroe
Not a lot of outsiders know about this quirky course north of the city, but The Links at Westfork is worth the drive.
Cut along the banks of the west fork of the San Jacinto River, this linksy Rick Robbins layout offers a great variety of holes over interesting terrain. Measuring just more than 6,900 yards from the tips, it's a good test.
Cypresswood Golf Club in Spring
Perennially a site for various qualifiers, including the Houston Open, the course's terrain is influenced by Spring and Cypress Creeks and features pine trees, rolling terrain and generally good conditions. It's also located close to Bush Intercontinental Airport. (Note: Cypresswood has been closed since August 2017 because of damage from Hurricane Harvey, but is set to reopen in April 2018.)
The Wilderness in Lake Jackson
Jeff Brauer designed The Wilderness Golf Club to blend with nature, but he also created several memorable holes, including a par 5 that ends with a green that's 180 feet long -- and that means club selection on the approach can vary by three or four clubs.