Best Golf Courses In Austin

Oct 17, 2023 | Artificial Grass, Austin, Putting Greens

Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite and Jordan Speith… all famous professional golfers associated with Austin and well familiar with the best golf courses in the city. Crenshaw and Kite were born in Austin and Speith spent a year at UT in Austin.

We love our golf here and, despite the Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio areas getting most of the attention when it comes to golf in Texas, there are plenty of places to practice your driving, chipping and putting in Austin

The first course in the Austin area was opened in 1899 (the 9-hole Hancock Golf Course) and there are now almost 30 golf courses in Austin. Many are public courses where anyone can play. Another 12 golf courses are situated within 20 miles of Austin. There’s a great selection of private, semi-private, resort and public courses in and around the city.

Knowing where the best golf courses in Austin are can save you wasted journeys to courses that you’ll never return to. So, in this post, we cover the best public golf courses in Austin — with options for every budget.  

Best budget golf courses in Austin

You can play a round of 18 holes at the following courses for $50 or under, so they represent great value…

Jimmy Clay Golf Course 

  • 5400 Jimmy Clay Drive, Austin, Texas 78744. Tel: 512-974-4653
  • Green fees: from $28 per person (more on the weekends)
  • Tee times: available in the afternoons and evenings.

The Jimmy Clay Golf Course is located in Southeast Austin, bordering McKinney Falls State Park and close to the airport. The course offers almost 7,000 yards of traditional tree-lined fairways and elevated open greens. 

This 18-hole course is one of the best-established municipal golf courses in Austin (“munis”), of which there are currently six in operation. Jimmy Clay was opened in 1974 and renovated in 2007 to add water features and again in 2021 to add new irrigation. Many greens are subtly elevated too. 

It is a quiet parkland course with plenty of hills and trees, pleasant to walk around and it also provides a driving range for players. Discounts off the regular fees ($35-$44) are available in the evenings and for sunset rounds. Juniors and seniors also get discounts.

Riverside Golf Course 

 best golf courses in austin

  • 1020 Grove Blvd., Austin, Texas 78741. Tel: 512-223-6677
  • Green fees: starting at $19 per person (more on the weekends)
  • Tee times: available from sunrise until two hours before sunset daily

Riverside Golf Course is another Austin institution, designed in 1949 and going strong ever since. The course is owned by Austin Community College and was originally intended as the second location of the Austin Country Club. 

Both Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite frequently called this course “home” and although it’s not a “muni”, the affordable rates and convenient location attract many golfers.

Known for its 18 challenging holes and fairways lined with stately oaks, pecans and maple trees, the course is open to the public and offers extremely low rates in comparison with other courses in the Austin area. 

You can get better rates after 4 pm most days. There are also good discounts for juniors, seniors and college students.

Lions Municipal Golf Course 

  • 2901 Enfield Road, Austin, Texas 7870. Tel: 512 477 6963
  • Green fees: starting at $23 per person for a sunset round
  • Tee times: starting at 7 am in person or by phone. Bookable 7 days in advance (weekdays)

Lions is one of the oldest golf courses in the whole of Texas, opened in 1924 and still one of the busiest municipal courses in Austin. It’s known by the locals simply as “Muny”.

“Charm” is a word frequently used in association with this course and while it may not boast the latest in upgraded holes and features, the course certainly offers a sense of history when you walk it. 

“Muny” was the first desegregated golf course in the south and, much later, Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite would play it, as well as Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Betsy Rawls. You may even see actor Matthew McConaughey on the driving range with his son!

Besides its history, part of the attraction of Lions is its city location, close to downtown Austin — which also makes it one of the busiest courses in the area.  Despite being a relatively short course (6,000 yards), golfers delight at the towering oak trees, doglegging fairways and tricky greens.

The reasonable green fees at Lions are also a major draw for golfers. Discounts are available for juniors and seniors, as with all the municipal courses in Austin.

Grey Rock Golf Club 

 best public golf courses in austin

  • 7401 State Highway 45, Austin, Texas 78739. Tel: 512-288-4297
  • Green fees: Starting at $36 per person for nine holes for residents ($41 for non-residents)
  • Tee times: Bookable online 7 days in advance (guests) and 14 days for members 

Located in southwest Austin, Grey Rock Golf Club caters to lovers of tennis as well as golf. The course offers membership or walk-ins in a pristine setting with 160 acres of rolling hills, stately oaks, bunkers and majestic views from almost 7,000 yards of greenery.

Gray Rock Golf Club is at the upper end of the “budget” courses in Austin but was purchased by the City of Austin and is technically a municipal course.

One interesting feature of the pricing at Grey Rock is the opportunity for a heavily discounted “replay” round (at roughly half the rate of your first round). So, if you’re feeling “super-golfy” and you have the time for more than 18 holes, this course is worth a look.

You’ll get the best rates from Monday to Thursday and discounted rates are available for residents who have a City of Austin Resident Rate card (which can be purchased from Jimmy Clay, Roy Kizer, Morris Williams or Lions). Juniors also enjoy healthy discounts.

Best mid-price courses in Austin

The following golf courses can be played for $100 a round or under and make up our list of the best mid-price golf courses in Austin…

Avery Ranch Golf Club 

  • 10500 Avery Club Drive, Austin, Texas 78717. Tel: 512-248-2442
  • Green fees: Dynamic pricing model (most affordable at off-peak times)
  • Tee times: Bookable online 

Avery Ranch Golf Club offers a beautiful setting with stunning views of the Texas Hill Country. Some consider it a luxury course but the pricing remains affordable if you choose your times carefully.

This “ranch” course is a semi-private facility in a huge residential development adjacent to the natural scenery of Brushy Creek Trail. The course includes a scenic 18th hole playing along Lake Avery. Water comes into play on nearly half the holes of its rolling layout.

Interestingly, green fee rates follow a dynamic pricing model that changes in real time according to demand, availability, course maintenance and other factors. Keep away from peak times and try to book at slower times. You can sign up to receive texts for deals on tee times for the coming week. You should be able to get something for $65-$85.

Avery Ranch has a practice driving range open from sunrise until 5.30 pm and also provides a venue for outdoor weddings and receptions. 

Golf Club at Star Ranch

  • 2500 FM 685, Hutto, TX 78634. Tel:512-252-4653
  • Green fees: $52-$94
  • Tee times: Bookable daily between 7 am and 6 pm

Golf Club at Star Ranch offers a ranch setting for golf on the perimeter of Austin, 30 minutes to the northeast of the city in Hutto, TX.

Whether you just want a round of golf or a weekend away or to celebrate a special event like a wedding or birthday, Star Ranch is a semi-private golf course that also offers a convenient getaway. It also provides a residential component but it is considered less intrusive than some of its neighboring ventures in the north of the city.

The rates at Star Ranch are moderate and it remains a popular choice for people willing to travel a little out of the city for a slightly different golfing experience, with undulating fairways and greens flanked by pristine white sand bunkers.

Falconhead Golf Club 

  • 200 Hi Circle North, Horseshoe Bay, Texas 78657. Tel: 877-611-0112 
  • Green fees: $90 – $160
  • Tee times: can reserve any available tee times up to 30 days in advance

Horseshoe Bay Golf Club offers a series of extremely picturesque golf courses near Lake Travis and the city of Lakeway and approaching the beautiful Texas Hill Country. We’ve snuck this in as one of the best golf courses in Austin despite its location an hour west of the city.

The club is home to three award-winning golf courses, with a members-only course designed by Jack Nicklaus and a competitive putting course. It’s the only resort in the continental U.S. with three golf courses designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr.

Three courses are open to the public. The easiest is Slick Rock but there’s also Apple Rock and Ram Rock. You can expect to pay a minimum of  $90 a round for 18 holes, so this resort is approaching luxury-level prices. There is also a private course called Summit Rock at Horseshoe Bay.

If you wish to stay at the resort and turn the experience into a true golfing break, you have the option of staying at the Tower Hotel, in a spacious villa or at a Tuscan-inspired private home/condo along the water. Watch out for the special offers.

Kissing Tree Golf Club

  • 201 Kissing Tree Ln, San Marcos, TX 78666-6609. Tel: (512) 456-3387
  • Green fees: $80-$89
  • Tee times: Public tee times are available from 5 am–7 pm

Kissing Tree Golf Club is a semi-private course located in the college town of San Marcos, around 35 miles to the southwest of Austin and around halfway to San Antonio. Like many of Austin’s best golf courses, it is within striking range of the Texas Hill Country.

Kissing Tree is one of the newest courses in the metro area of Austin (opened in 2018) and it forms part of a new construction area targeting the “55 and up” community. The golf course, which measures just under 6,600 yards, is open to the public and anyone can play.

Despite its slightly smaller-than-average size, there are plenty of scenic holes with striped fairways and challenging, angulated greens.

Best luxury golf courses in Austin

Luxury golf courses also abound in the Austin area, where you can expect to pay $100 or more for a round of golf. A  few of the best golf courses in Austin in this bracket are the following…

Wolfdancer Golf Club

  • 575 Hyatt Lost Pines Road, Lost Pines, Texas 78612. Tel: 512.308.WOLF
  • Green fees: $75-$190
  • Tee times: Bookable online or by phone from 8 am-6 pm

The Wolfdancer Golf Club at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines is a luxury course located around 20 minutes to the east of Austin (not far from the airport) in a serene setting surrounded by Texan wilderness and the Colorado River.

Wolfdancer is generally considered one of the best public courses in Austin for which you don’t need a resort stay to play.

Prairies, woodland and native pecan trees surround an award-winning 18-hole championship golf course that features plenty of exciting holes. Some golfers say that it feels like two courses in one: 12 holes that weave through prairie hills and the last six in the river valley. 

Most rounds are around $100 but deals are available later in the day and it’s best to check the “Daily Deal” tab on the website for the latest green fee rates. Membership rates start at $5,000 per year.

Fazio Foothills at Omni Barton Creek 

  • 8212 Barton Club Drive, Austin, Texas 78735. Tel: 512-329-4000
  • Green fees: $120-$500
  • Tee times: 7 am–6 pm

Omni Hotels (Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa) operates four luxury golf courses in an area to the west of Austin with views of the Texas Hill Country area but just 10 miles southwest of downtown.

The emergence of the Barton Creek area in the 1980s inspired many other golf courses and residential/resort developments in the Austin area.

Fazio Foothills is a resort course that used to host a PGA Tour Champions event. Keen golfers can combine a short break with a few rounds of golf. 

The course offers over 7,000 yards of greenery, elevated tee shots, elevated greens, caves, waterfalls and more. Recent renovations have improved this course further. The catch is that you’ll need to stay at the resort to play golf here (registered guests of the resort can also play).

If you don’t fancy the higher-than-average green fees or the full rates to stay at the resort, check the website for twilight deals and packages.

Fazio Canyons at Omni Barton Creek

  • 8212 Barton Club Drive, Austin, Texas 78735. Tel: 512-329-4000
  • Green fees: $120-$500
  • Tee times: 7 am–6 pm

Fazio Canyons is the newest of the four Barton Creek courses owned and operated by Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa — and it’s often ranked as the most popular among golf enthusiasts in Austin.

This may be partly to its exclusive feel. The course is located around a mile away from the main resort and includes big fairways and greens (some sharply elevated) against a backdrop of creeks and rock outcroppings.

Again, you’ll need to stay at the resort to play the Fazio Canyons course so check the website for packages and special twilight deals.

Omni Barton Creek: Crenshaw Cliffside

  • 8212 Barton Club Drive, Austin, Texas 78735. Tel: 512-329-4000
  • Green fees: $120-$500
  • Tee times: 7 am–6 pm

Ben Crenshaw is Austin’s most celebrated golfing son. To play a course designed by the man himself is all part of the Austin golfing experience.

If you’re staying at the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in the west of Austin, you can do just that.

Crenshaw-Cliffside was opened in 1991 and renovated a few years ago. The course offers a golfing experience quite different from the other courses at the resort: the gigantic, gentle but tricky greens are a particular challenge.

The course is walkable and a little cheaper to play than the two Fazio courses at the resort described above. However, as with the Fazio courses, a resort stay is required.

Public vs private vs resort golf courses

80 percent of all rounds of golf in the U.S. are played on courses that are open to the public, according to the PGA of America and the World Golf Foundation. This is where most beginner golfers cut their teeth and many people only ever play public courses in their lifetimes.

Most public courses are affordable but the quality of the course and the level of challenge provided varies considerably.

But what’s the difference between public golf courses, municipal courses and private or semi-private courses?

In case you’re confused, this breakdown makes it a little easier:

  • Municipal courses: owned and/or managed by the city, town or county.
  • Public courses: privately owned and operated (by individuals, real estate development companies or corporations) but open for the public to play. Many of the best ones are designed by experienced course architects (sometimes with the help of ex-players).
  • Semi-private courses: open to the public but also offer memberships for those who want to pay for priority tee times, reduced green fee rates and other perks.
  • Private courses: these courses usually require membership of the golf club (or registration as a guest) to play a round of golf. In return for paid membership, golfers enjoy less crowded courses, high-quality fairways/greens, dining/social activities, etc. 
  • Resort courses: many of these are technically public courses (no membership is required) but restrict public access by requiring that you stay at the resort if you want to play golf there.

Best public golf courses: summary

When it comes to the best public golf courses in Austin, you’re spoilt for choice: from a city center experience to the rolling hills of the west of the city and from less than $20 per round to a few hundred dollars.

Austin may not quite have the name of Dallas or San Antonio in golfing circles but it still packs a  punch and you can certainly improve your game affordably at any of the following courses: 

  • Jimmy Clay Golf Course
  • Riverside Golf Course
  • Lions Municipal Golf Course
  • Grey Rock Golf Club
  • Avery Ranch Golf Club
  • Golf Club at Star Ranch
  • Falconhead Golf Club
  • Horseshoe Bay Golf Club 

For a slightly more exclusive experience that involves higher green fees and, in some cases, a stay at a resort, it’s hard to beat the following courses:

  • Kissing Tree Golf Club
  • Wolfdancer Golf Club
  • Fazio Foothills at Omni Barton Creek
  • Fazio Canyons at Omni Barton Creek
  • Omni Barton Creek: Crenshaw Cliffside

Best private golf courses: summary

There are over 25 private 18-hole golf courses in Austin. A few of the best private facilities* include:

  • Spanish Oaks Golf Club
  • Austin Country Club
  • Barton Creek Country Club 
  • The Hills Country Club
  • Cimmaron Hills
  • Horseshoe Bay – Summit Rock
  • UT Golf Club 

*Based on the USGA rankings

Want to improve your short game?

You may not have the benefit of a legendary instructor to help you like Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite did, but you can still improve your game with enough practice.

If you’re a regular at any of the above private or public golf courses in Austin and want to improve your short game, have you considered an artificial grass putting green for your backyard?

Specially made putting green turf stays at precisely the right length to mimic the roll of a ball on a real grass putting green. It’s low-maintenance and cost-effective if you want to improve your putting and chipping without leaving home. 

Synthetic grass putting greens look pristine all year round with barely any effort, require no mowing or watering and are not damaged by the sun or heavy usage.The team at Artificial Grass Pros can look after everything from green design to installation. Discuss your ideas with a professional by calling us at 512.269.1500.

Artificial Grass Pros proudly serves Atlanta & Austin area. 

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