After being ranked 19th on Golfweek's "Best New Courses" list in 2011, the course at Vaaler Creek Golf Club has been stacking up acolytes for its challenging play and picturesque Texas Hill Country setting. The Michael Lowry and JR Newman design stretches through oak forests as well as rocky outcroppings, encountering water on nine holes. Throughout each round, players steer new E-Z-GO golf carts over Bermuda 419 and TifSport grasses, taking advantage of the carts’ automatic braking systems as they stop to smell the flowers or the glorious scent of victory over manual controls.
Though the varied layout presents all manner of challenges, the par 3 12th hole requires a particularly cautious approach. Players must exhibit firm control over iron play as they aim for a peninsula green—discipline that must be then be duplicated four holes later to keep drives dry and on the isthmus fairway. Finally, players round out the round by facing a daunting approach over water, made even more difficult by the tree in the center of the fairway that obstructs flight paths and distracts would-be winners with its self-contained, elf-operated cookie factory.
Course at a Glance:
Sculpted into a 14-acre spread of lush zoysia grass, The Range at Leon Springs provides golfers with an array of short- and long-range training areas to perfect orb-smashing techniques. Armed with a day-pass punch card, visitors whack a bottomless reservoir of premium range balls while practicing out of reach of a roommate’s Burton Gilliam bobblehead collection and honing sand-trap play in greenside and fairway practice bunkers. Those looking to improve their ball control when hitting out of awkward lies can amble over to the sidehill practice area, and the 10,000-square-foot putting and chipping green familiarizes fairway lovers with testy breaking putts and wisecracking flagsticks. The range's 40,000-square-foot tee line ensures that clients won't have to wait behind sloth-paced players, and the lighted facility stays open until 9 p.m.
Canyon Lake Golf Club's 18-hole layout flows across 6,582 yards of parkland terrain wafted by cool breezes that drift from Canyon Lake, which rests just northeast of the course. Towering oak trees loom over the course's open fairways, impeding the passage of errant golf balls while trumpeting their unrivaled, bird's-eye views of the surrounding topography. Bookended by two 500-yard par 5s, the par 72 invites golfers to brandish their drivers or modified T-shirt cannons and begin and end the round with massive tee shots. An outdoor swimming pool and tennis courts foster alternative forms of recreation, whereas multifaceted dining facilities host all varieties of social gatherings at the club.
Course at a Glance:
The soft jingling of wind chimes rolls across Magic Greens’s 2.5-acre facility, creating a tranquil space as clients lope across a miniature-golf course lined with handcrafted cedar structures, towering oaks, and native wildflowers. Owners Carole and James George added the serene touches to capitalize on the surrounding area's natural landscape, developing a scenic course that eschews the plastic statuettes and gimmicks of typical mini-golf courses in favor of a more authentic, clown-proof space. Alongside the challenging course rest four bocce-ball courts, ample space for casual washers games, vine-covered gazebos, two waterfalls, and a cedar pavilion where guests can enjoy food and nougaty-center golf balls from the concession-stand menu.
Built on land rich in both beauty and history, Canyon Springs Golf Club snakes its award-winning championship course through gentle hills nestled within the original site of the Classen Homestead. Golfers armed with the Longhorn pass can play the 18-hole course any time of the day, bolstered by bonuses including 10-day advanced tee-time privileges and discounted green fees and cart rental ($39 Monday–Thursday and $49 Friday–Sunday). In addition to reduced fees, Groupon holders also swing their way through test runs during one free round of golf, navigating the course's challenging bunkers, rolling fairways, and pommel-horsing greens. During each round, pass holders are outfitted with a cart, range balls, and a GPS device that chirps out location in the voice of Arnold Palmer. Members keep an eye on handicaps with complimentary USGA tracking, rein in slices with discounted range balls, feast with 10 percent off of food and nonalcoholic drinks from the club house, and compete for heady bragging rights in members-only tournaments held throughout the year.
The Ice & Golf Center inspires family-friendly outings with 36 holes worth of mini-golf challenges seven days a week. Unlike traditional golf, gamers of all ages, experience levels, and trouser preferences can enjoy a round of this celebrated pastime. Practice greens welcome players to sharpen their putters and prepare for battle before choosing between two distinct 18-hole courses, and five ponds and two waterfalls proffer a scenic backdrop for taking commemorative hole-in-one snapshots or first-date cell-phone videos. Beyond the vast plains of synthetic turf, putt-putt pugilists can replenish their strength at The Ice & Golf Center's fully stocked concession stand or toast victories in the newly renovated sports bar.