Which Lone Star layouts shine the brightest?You'd be surprised
1. Barton Creek Resort, Fazio Canyons, Austin.
Par: 72. Yardage: 7,161.
Architect: Tom Fazio, 2000.
Green fee: $175. (Resort guests only). Walking allowed.
Tee time: 512-301-6569.
Stay at: Casa de Campo, 800-877-3643.
Notes: No misprint—the infant Canyons noses out famed Foothills (see No. 2) because the rugged hill-country ranchland isn't marred by McMansions. Yet. Already, the 561-yard finisher is a word-of-mouth sensation.
2. Barton Creek Resort, Fazio Foothills, Austin.
Par: 72. Yardage: 6,956.
Architect: Tom Fazio, 1986.
Green fees: $175 (Resort guests only). Walking allowed.
Tee time: 512-329-4001.
Notes: Notes: A fixture on everyone's top 100 in America. Set beside Austin's aquifer-fed shrine, Barton Creek, the Foothills course boasts four of the state's most beautiful holes—nine, ten, sixteen and eighteen.
3. Painted Dunes, East/West Course, El Paso.
Par: 72. Yardage: 6,925.
Architect: Architect: Ken Dye, 1991.
Green fee: 19$24. Unrestricted walking.
Tee time: 915-821-2122.
Notes: Notes: Dye (no relation to Pete) has created otherworldly solitude and one of the best desert munis in America. A totally unique track, the Dunes' mounding and zippy, bent greens have drawn three Q-school qualifiers. Chihuahuan sunsets rock.
4. Texas Star, Euless.
Par: 71. Yardage: 6,936.
Architect: Keith Foster, 1997.
Green fee: $37$53. Unrestricted walking.
Tee time: 817-685-7888.
Notes: A memorable muni hidden from Dallas-Fort Worth's numbing sprawl by well-nurtured oaks and elegant native grasses.A tribute to the land, Foster calls it "a nature walk." Exceptional design keeps you constantly thinking.
5. Horseshoe Bay Resort, Ram Rock Course, Horseshoe Bay.
Par: 71. Yardage: 6,926.
Architect: Robert Trent Jones Sr., 1981.
Green fees: $85$120 (Resort guests). Cart required.
Notes: Aging resort, but perennially high-ranked course. With a state-high slope of 137, Ram Rock is almost comically difficult from the tips, but Jones's eye for precision and fairness earns respect, not dread.
6. Buffalo Creek, Rockwall.
Par: 71. Yardage: 7,018.
Architect: Tom Weiskopf/ Jay Morrish, 1992.
Green fees: $69$89. Cart required.
Tee time: 972-771-4003
Notes: A must-play fifteen miles east of Dallas, Buffalo Creek's rolling prairie may surprise non-Texans, but wondrous bent-grass greens remind us of great Midwest tracks. The water-guarded 478-yard sixth is one of the toughest par fours in Texas.
7. The Cliffs at Possum Kingdom Lake, Graford.
Par: 71. Yardage: 6,808.
Architect: Architect: Bruce Devlin/Robert von Hagge, 1988.
Green fees: $65$80. Cart required.
Tee Time: 940-779-4040
Notes: Hilltop scenery on this clear Brazos Riverfed lake is awesome; whoa-nelly ups and downs, tight fairways and ball-sucking ravines.Try the possum burger! (That's a joke, son.)
8. Hyatt Regency Resort, Hill Country Golf Club, San Antonio.
Par: 72. Yardage: 6,913.
Architect: Arthur Hills, 1993.
Green fees: $120. Walking allowed.
Tee time: 210-520-4040.
Notes: A tranquil, ranch-like setting with elegant overhanging oaks and unobtrusive homes, this subtly tough course demands precise ball placement. Play it a second time and you might improve eight strokes.
9. Memorial Park, Houston.
Par: 72. Yardage: 7,164.
Architect: John Bredemus/ Baxter Spann, 1936.
Green fee: $23$32. Unrestricted walking.
Tee Time: 713-862-4033.
Notes: Spann's acclaimed redesign and $4.25 million face-lift in 1995 resuscitated this classic, tree-lined, downtown track. The essence of urban, public golf, plump fairways invite a rip du jour round. Always crowded (call 8 a.m. for tee times; hah!).
10. The Tribute Golf Club, The Colony.
Par: 72. Yardage: 7,002.
Architect: Tripp Davis, 2000.
Green fee: $95$115. Walking allowed.
Tee Time: 972-370-5465.
Notes: Frankly, the thought of Dallas boys knocking off Troon, Prestwick and St. Andrews gave us the willies, but with waist-high sea grasses, countless mounds, constant lake breeze and no fairway condos, they've somehow pulled it off. Haggis, anyone?