Take Your Best Shot

Our Favorite Houston-Area Golf Courses

The 12 local clubs you need to know about

By Denise Cathey, Timothy Malcolm, and Catherine Wendlandt April 30, 2021 Published in the Spring 2021 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Cover photo courtesy: Bluejack National

Memorial Park Golf Course 


Opened in 1912—initially it was simply a nine-hole course used by recuperating soldiers from nearby Camp Logan—Memorial Park has grown and changed right alongside the Bayou City. In 2018 the facility was given a $34 million renovation by the Astros Golf Foundation and has since become the site of the annual Houston Open. The main municipal course was upgraded to keep it to PGA tournament standards, and other improvements included the construction of a new short course and an expansion of the driving range. —Denise Cathey

  • Opened: 1912
  • Designed By: John Bredemus; Tom Doak
  • Status: Public
  • Holes: 18
  • Fee: $30, Monday-Thursday; $38, Friday-Sunday, and holidays; $10, Monday-Thursday juniors; $15, seniors.
  • Of Note: 1965 PGA Championship winner Dave Marr asked that his ashes be spread here, a wish his children honored after his death in 1997.

Bluejack National 


One of the most anticipated courses to open in recent memory, Bluejack National is the first American golf course designed by Tiger Woods. What he created in Bluejack, the anchor of a planned residential community that hosted its first rounds in 2016, is a Texas version of Augusta National, home of the Masters tournament. For example, the gorgeous 12th hole at Bluejack looks a whole lot like the famous 12th (Golden Bell) at Augusta, with a water hazard just ahead of a sloping and narrow green. Considering Woods has won five green jackets, can you blame him for taking some inspiration? —Timothy Malcolm

  • Opened: 2016
  • Designed By: Tiger Woods, Beau Welling
  • Status: Private
  • Holes: 18
  • Fee: Join or find a friend. Members and guests only.
  • Of Note: Part of a residential community, Bluejack has amenities that include the kid-friendly Fort, which includes swimming pools, tennis courts, bowling lanes, and a Boston’s Fenway Park Wiffle ball replica.

Golf Club of Houston 


Once known as Humble’s El Dorado Country Club (which fell victim to the oil bust and closed in the 1990s), the Golf Club of Houston has two 18-hole courses, including the public tournament course that hosted the Houston Open for nearly two decades. On the tournament course, you’ll find a traditional layout with tree-lined fairways of Bermuda grass, a few water hazards and sand traps, and fast greens sure to offer a battle. The members’ course is for serious players, with plenty of hazards and slopes that demand accuracy off the tee and surefire execution on approach shots. —TM

  • Opened: 2003
  • Designed by: John Hardy, Peter Jacobson (members course); Rees Jones, David Toms (tournament course)
  • Status: Private/Public
  • Holes: 36
  • Fee: $59-$79 for the tournament course; Members course by invite only
  • Of Note: Mickelson (2011) and Russell Henley (2017) hold the tournament course record for lowest 72-hole scores (268, or 20-under-par).

Braeburn Country Club 


When the stock market crashed in 1929, Braeburn, which had opened only three years before, seemingly lost it all. But in 1931 Texas golf legend Jack Burke Sr. stepped in and revitalized this stunning Brays Bayou club. The par-72 Braeburn has a reputation as a “shotmaker’s course,” but not just anyone can try their swing here. The club, which also offers swimming and tennis, among other amenities, is members-only. —Catherine Wendlandt

  • Opened: 1926
  • Designed By: John Bredemus, redesigned by Carlton Gipson in 1991
  • Status: Private
  • Holes: 18
  • Fee: Join or find a friend who belongs. Members and guests only.
  • Of Note: Golf architect Tripp Davis’s revamping of the famed course is slated to be completed this fall.

Royal Oaks Country Club 


Located near the Galleria, Royal Oaks Country Club offers golfers a verdant, fast-paced 18-hole course in the heart of Houston with dramatic water features and double-tiered greens spread out over 7,007 yards of play. The par-three 16th hole offers a striking view of a cascading waterfall near the green; just sail your tee shot over the water and get it near the flag. “The greens are definitely the strengths of the golf course,” says General Manager David Altemus. “Double-tiered greens are always very fast, and we have lots of bunkering on the golf course and 11 holes have water on them. So it’s a really fun and pretty course.” —DC

  • Opened: 2000
  • Designed By: Fred Couples
  • Status: Private
  • Holes: 18
  • Fee: Join or find a friend who belongs. Members and guests only. 
  • Of Note: Built in 1999, the country club was one of the first to be constructed within Houston city limits in 50 years.

The Woodlands Country Club 


The Woodlands Country Club is where all your golfing dreams come true. The club’s three—yes, three—courses have “been fixtures in the top end of golf in this area for decades,” says General Manager Paul Earnest. Countless amateur, charity, and professional tournaments have been held across the three locations, which golf gods Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Bruce Devlin had their hands in designing. —CW

  • Opened: 1978
  • Designed By: Arnold Palmer (Palmer Course); Bruce Devlin and Robert von Hagge, (Tournament Course); and Gary Player, (Player Course)
  • Status: Private
  • Holes: 18
  • Fee: Join or find a friend who belongs. Members and guests only. 
  • Of Note: Former host of the PGA Tour’s Shell Houston Open

Champions Golf Club 


The game-changer in Houston golf, this club founded by two Texas-born Masters champs, Jack Burke Jr. (1956) and Houston’s Jimmy Demaret (1940, 1947, 1950), maintains a small, strict membership composed of some of the world’s top golfers. Players choose between Cypress Creek, which hosts tournament play and has deceptively inviting fairways and greens, and Jackrabbit, possibly the more difficult course, with smaller greens and narrow windows for hitting good shots. —TM

  • Opened: 1957
  • Designed By: Ralph Plummer (Cypress Creek); George Fazio and Tom Fazio (Jackrabbit)
  • Status: Private
  • Holes: 36
  • Fee: Join or find a friend who belongs. Members and guests only. 
  • Of Note: In 1971 golf icon Ben Hogan played his final career tournament on Cypress Creek, injuring his knee when seeking a wayward tee shot.

Pearland Golf Club 


Don’t let the fact that Texas Southern University’s golf team practices here intimidate: Pearland Golf is for players of all levels, says General Manager Richard Rogers. “The greens are terrific,” he says, but tight—be wary of the trees on the first nine holes, the water hazards, and the 88 bunkers on this par-72, 6,000-plus-yard course. Also, there are two neighborhoods on the property, so take care to shout “fore” after a particularly bad swing. —CW

  • Opened: 1982
  • Designed By: Jeffrey Blume
  • Status: Semi-private
  • Holes: 18
  • Fee: $20-$40, Monday-Thursday; $35-$49 Friday; $25-$55 weekends and holidays; $6-$12 driving range; annual membership dues range $1,800–$3,400
  • Of Note: Two neighborhood communities were built up with the course, so if you are a true golf junky, yes, you could actually live here.

Hermann Park Golf Course 


Hermann Park offers a great course perfect for the newcomer to the game or the seasoned pro. Golfers can take in stunning fairway views of the Houston skyline amid oak trees while playing through this fast-paced 18-hole course that still offers golfers a challenge with its tight layout, numerous trees, and water features. “It’s very well suited for families, people just beginning to golf,” says General Manager and Director of Golf Joe Priddy.

“It’s encouraging, because you can pick from several tees to play from. Between that, and it being a shorter golf course, I think it’s more family oriented.” —DC

  • Opened: 1922
  • Designed By: David Duller and George Rotan; Carlton Gipson
  • Status: Public
  • Holes: 18
  • Fee: $23 Monday-Friday, $34.25 Friday-Sunday; seniors $14 Monday-Thursday; golf carts, clinics and lessons, extra
  • Of Note: The course is one of Houston’s oldest and became the first in the country to integrate in 1954.

River Oaks Country Club

Image: Visit Houston

River Oaks Country Club 


Founded in the 1920s, River Oaks Country Club, while not the oldest, is certainly the most preeminent of the city’s private clubs. One of only three courses in Texas designed by famed architect Donald Ross, River Oaks exemplifies the best of pre-war style and strategy, with improvements made over the years that don’t sacrifice the classic feel of the course, most notably those by Houston-born golfer and designer Joe Finger in 1967. At nearly 7,000 yards, this is a short but storied course along the banks of Buffalo Bayou where tree-lined fairways and natural terrain contours provide challenges in accuracy and any golfer’s short game. DC

  • Opened: 1923
  • Designed By: Donald Ross; Joe Finger
  • Status: Private
  • Holes: 18
  • Fee: Join or find a friend who belongs. Members and guests only. 
  • Of Note: Over the years, golf legends including Jack Burke Sr., Jimmy Demaret, Claude Harmon Sr., and Dick Harmon have been River Oaks golf professionals.

Walden on Lake Conroe Golf Club 


Ranked the fourth-best golf course in the Houston area by Golf Digest in 2010, Walden on Lake Conroe is a challenge-seeking golfer’s dream. A mixture of stately pine and oak trees, water features, Bermuda grass greens, and bunkers gives each of the course’s 18 holes a unique and memorable play-through. While 11 of the course’s holes have water hazards, it’s the 11th, 12th, and 13th holes, nicknamed the “Bermuda Triangle,” that provide a difficult stretch. The long, doglegging 11th has the lake up against the fairway and green, a short 12th includes a leap over water from tee to an island green, and the 13th requires a big hit over part of the lake to get started. “You can go through your whole bag of clubs here,” says Danny Jones, head golf professional. “It demands a lot of different shots rather than the same ones all day long,” —DC

  • Opened: 1976
  • Designed By: Robert von Hagge and Bruce Devlin
  • Status: Semi-private
  • Holes: 18
  • Fee: $80 non-members, Monday-Thursday, $100, Friday-Sunday and holidays. Play is free for members.
  • Of Note: Golf Magazine ranks the double-dogleg par-five 11th one of the top 500 golf holes in the world.

Houston Country Club 


Since 1957 the Houston Country Club has actually been located in Tanglewood, and the original design by Robert Trent Jones has since been updated by Austin-born golfer Ben Crenshaw and designer Bill Coore. You’ll find a classic American course with lush, open fairways, plenty of bunkers surrounding the greens, and a few long par-fours, including the opening two holes that may quickly separate the wheat from the chaff. —TM

  • Opened: 1908
  • Designed By: Robert Trent Jones
  • Status: Private
  • Holes: 18
  • Fee: Join or find a friend who belongs. Members and guests only.
  • Of Note: It’s been said that club member George H.W. Bush first met future chief of staff and U.S. Secretary of State James Baker here in the 1960s, though they primarily played on the tennis courts.
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