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?
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