​US West South Central Division Best in State Rankings 2020

25 August 2020 Respond to this article

US West South Central Division Best in State Rankings 2020

We recently embarked on our biennial task of refreshing all the regional rankings in the United States, starting with five states in the Pacific Division then eight states in the Mountain Division. We now move on to the West South Central Division, where we feature 160 courses across a four-state geographical area, comprising three Top 20 tables for Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, along with a Top 100 chart for Texas.

This region extends to around 440,000 square miles, with a population of approximately forty million people. The Lone Star State of Texas is somewhat dominant here as it’s comfortably larger in size than the other three states combined and it’s also where you will find seven of the top ten West South Central cities. Two of the three courses from this division which make the cut in our national Top 100 are also from Texas.


Arkansas

The course at Blessings Golf Club is our new No. 1 for Arkansas. A Robert Trent Jones Jr. design that debuted early in the new millennium, it’s operated as a private facility by the University of Arkansas and used by the Razorbacks student golf teams as a home base. Owner John Tyson of Tyson Foods wanted to upgrade the original design, making it more of a walking course with greens that allow a running approach shot, so Kyle Phillips was called in to reroute and renovate the layout in line with its new playing objectives.

Blessings Golf Club

Blessings Golf Club

Three courses make three-place advances in the new chart and the foremost of these is Mystic Creek Golf Club’s 18-hole layout at No. 7. This Ken Dye-designed layout first opened for play in 2013, becoming a new entry in our state listings two years ago. Built with a large construction budget within a 510-acre real estate development, the course weaves through areas of dense pine woodland on the outskirts of El Dorado.

Mystic Creek Golf Club

Mystic Creek Golf Club

The only new entry for Arkansas arrives at No. 19 and it’s the Highlands course at Bella Vista Country Club, which is where the local high school teams from Bentonville and Gravette play their home matches. Acknowledged as the longest and most challenging of the five 18-hole layouts at Bella Vista, this course is renowned locally as a tough track, endorsed by the “take extra balls” advice when teeing it up here on the club’s website.


Rank/ Course Move
1 Blessings Up 1
2 Alotian Down 1
3 Country Club of Little Rock Up 2
4 Diamante Country Club Down 1
5 Hot Springs (Arlington) Down 1
6 Texarkana Country Club No change
7 Mystic Creek Up 3
8 Ridges at Village Creek (North & East). Down 1
9 Chenal (Founders) Up 3
10 Hot Springs (Park) Up 1
11 Pleasant Valley (Blue & Yellow) Down 3
12 Pinnacle Country Club Up 2
13 Chenal (Bear Den) Down 4
14 Hardscrabble Up 1
15 Hot Springs Village (Granada) Up 3
16 Big Creek Down 3
17 Mountain Ranch No change
18 Thunder Bayou Down 2
19 Bella Vista (Highlands) New entry
20 Hot Springs Village (Magellan) Down 1


Click the link to see full details of our latest Arkansas Best in State rankings


Louisiana

The course at Squire Creek Country Club remains our No. 1 for Louisiana, a position it’s now held for five straight editions of our Best in State rankings. Unveiled in 2002, the course is set within a large 1,100-acre real estate development between Monroe and Ruston, in the northern part of the state, with the course just one of several sporting amenities available to members of this modern country club. Holes on the front nine, in particular, have been described by Tom Doak as “some of Fazio’s best work”.

Squire Creek Country Club

Squire Creek Country Club

Rising six places to No. 8 and regaining a Best in State Top 10 berth it relinquished when we revised the standings two years ago, the course at Southern Trace Country Club in Shreveport is a late 1980s Arthur Hills design that’s now managed by Troon Privé. The club is well known for its tournament hosting capabilities, having staged the WEB.Com Tour’s Southern Open from 1990 to 2002 as well as multiple State Amateur Championships in more recent years.

Southern Trace Country Club

Southern Trace Country Club


Rank/ Course Move
1 Squire Creek No change
2 Country Club of Louisiana No change
3 TPC Louisiana Up 1
4 Koasati Pines Up 2
5 The Bluffs Golf Resort Down 2
6 Oakbourne Down 1
7 Money Hill Up 2
8 Southern Trace Up 6
9 English Turn Up 4
10 Carter Plantation Up 2
11 Gray Plantation No change
12 Audubon Park Up 4
13 Metairie Up 2
14 Contraband Bayou Down 4
15 Country Club at Golden Nugget. Down 7
16 Black Bear Down 9
17 Tamahka Trails Up 1
18 Baton Rouge Down 1
19 Atchafalaya at Idlewild Up 1
20 University Club of Baton Rouge Down 1


Click the link to see full details of our latest Louisiana Best in State rankings


Oklahoma

The top four places in our Oklahoma Best in State chart are unaltered, which means the Championship course at Southern Hills Country Club is still the No. 1 track in the Sooner State. Truth be told, it would take something way beyond extraordinary for this 1930s Perry Maxwell design to suffer a fall from grace at the top of the table as it not only occupies a prime position in the national listings, it’s also knocking rather loudly on the door to our World Top 100.

Southern Hills Country Club

Southern Hills Club

The course has just undergone an extensive 10-month restoration by Gil Hanse which saw new bent grass greens re-built with an underground hydronic system, bunkers reconstructed in a more natural style, drainage creeks re-introduced on several of the holes, cart paths relocated to lessen their visual impact and practice facilities upgraded. In short, don’t expect Southern Hills to lose its #1 status in Oklahoma any time soon…

Only four courses make upward progress in the chart and the biggest rise is made by the 18-hole layout at Cedar Ridge Country Club, rising eight spots to No. 10. Originally laid out by Joe Finger in the late 1960s, the course hosted the US Women’s Open in 1983, when Jan Stephenson became the first Australian to win the title. Tripp Davis has been working here since 2016, upgrading three holes every year, as he goes about the removal of encroaching trees and rebuilds sand hazards using the Better Billy Bunker system.

Cedar Ridge Country Club

Cedar Ridge Country Club

There are two new entries in our new Oklahoma rankings, the highest of which is the course at Gaillardia Country Club in Oklahoma City at No. 16. It’s an Arthur Hills design from the late 1990s, constructed for the Gaylord family who owned the farmland on which the fairways were fashioned. Following a change of ownership just six years after the course was launched, Tom Kite was brought in to revamp the layout, retaining the Hills routing but adding large, dramatic sand and water hazards in addition to reseeding the fairways with native grasses.

Gaillardia Country Club

Gaillardia Country Club


Rank/ Course Move
1 Southern Hills (Championship) No change
2 Oak Tree National No change
3 Karsten Creek No change
4 Patriot No change
5 Oklahoma City Up 1
6 Golf Club of Oklahoma Down 1
7 Territory Up 1
8 Twin Hills Down 1
9 Oak Tree (West) No change
10 Cedar Ridge Up 8
11 Oaks Country Club Down 1
12 Jimmie Austin Up 1
13 Oak Tree (East) Down 2
14 Dornick Hills No change
15 Tulsa Down 3
16 Gaillardia New entry
17 Stillwater Down 2
18 Chickasaw Pointe Down 1
19 Hillcrest Down 3
20 Shangri-La (Heritage & Legends). New entry


Click the link to see full details of our latest Oklahoma Best in State rankings


Texas

The course at Bluejack National came hurtling straight into our Texan listings at No. 1 two years ago so it’s perhaps no real surprise to find out this startling debutant has held onto the coveted top spot during our latest chart revision. Designed by Tiger Woods in collaboration with Beau Welling, the layout is situated an hour’s drive north of downtown Houston, within an upmarket real estate development near the small town of Montgomery.

Bluejack National

Bluejack National

Review comments from earlier this year include: “Unmatched experience. You won’t have a better time. Not stuffy like many Top 100 courses. The course itself is kept in great shape. Very Augusta-like. Some of the most beautiful holes you’ll find… The rolling terrain, towering pines and wide playing corridors make for a tremendous layout. Bluejack is the epitome of the new era of golf course design; it is playable for anyone and gives you options on every hole.”

Northwood Club’s 18-hole layout near Dallas surges forward twenty-one places to No. 18 in the Texas Top 100. Designed by Bill Diddel back in 1950, the course hosted the US Open just two years after its inauguration. Jay Morrish oversaw a renovation in the 1990s but it’s the more recent work carried out by Tripp Davis which has revived many of the classical elements of the original design, especially through bringing the creek that runs through the property more prominently into play.

Northwood Club

Northwood Club

Another big mover is the course at the University of Texas (up twenty-seven to #40), which is the official residence of the university’s golf teams. Enjoying a panoramic hill country setting between Lake Austin and Lake Travis in Steiner Ranch, the course was built by Bechtol Russell Golf Design in 2003 and it’s recently been complemented with the introduction of a distinctive practice facility that includes the Spieth Lower 40, a 6-hole par three short course.

University of Texas

University of Texas

An even larger leap forward, from #88 to #52, is made by the Memorial Park Golf Course in downtown Houston, where Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design firm has just completed an extensive renovation of the layout in advance of the Houston Open which is scheduled for later this year. One of five municipal courses operated by Houston Parks & Recreation Department, it hosted the Shell Houston Open between 1951 and 1963, so it’s certainly no stranger to big tournament play.

Memorial Park

Memorial Park

Brooks Koepka also served as a consultant during the rebuild which involved sand capping all the fairways, installing new drainage, and forming additional contours around the property with excavated material from an enlarged irrigation pond.

There are eleven new entries in our new rankings for Texas, with most of them arriving in the bottom third of the chart. The two courses that appear way ahead of the pack are Wolf Point Ranch (a re-entry at #28) and Houston Oaks (at #31).

Wolf Point Ranch lies half way between Houston and Corpus Christi, close to the small port town of Point Comfort, and it’s here that Mike Nuzzo set out an 18-hole course for a local rancher in 2007, featuring putting surfaces described by Tom Doak as “the best set of greens in Texas.” The original owner has since passed away and the property changed hands at auction earlier this year for $10.7 million but it now remains to be seen in which direction the new proprietor will go with this minimalistic design.

Wolf Point Ranch

Wolf Point Ranch

The Clubs at Houston Oaks is located less than an hour’s drive northwest of downtown Houston, on a 900-acre property once operated as the Tenneco Oil & Gas Company’s headquarters and a retreat for the family that owned the firm during the 1950s and 1960s. It later became the Tennwood Country Club before the current owners took over in 2006. Chet Williams redesigned and renovated the layout a decade later, reworking all the bunkers and bringing into play an island green at the par three 5th and a split fairway at the par four 11th.

The Clubs at Houston Oaks Golf Club

Houston Oaks


Rank/ Course Move
1 Bluejack National No change
2 Whispering Pines No change
3 Dallas National No change
4 Colonial No change
5 Austin Golf Club Up 1
6 Boot Ranch Up 5
7 Brook Hollow Down 2
8 Preston Trail Down 1
9 Spanish Oaks Up 1
10 Escondido Up 4
11 Cordillera Ranch Down 3
12 Austin Country Club Up 2
13 Miramont Up 3
14 Champions (Cypress Creek) Down 5
15 Pine Dunes Up 3
16 Black Jack's Crossing Up 12
17 Horseshoe Bay (Summit Rock) Up 12
18 Northwood Club Up 21
19 Oak Hills Up 7
20 Barton Creek (Fazio Canyons) No change
21 Briggs Ranch Down 2
22 Rawls Course at Texas Tech Down 1
23 Carlton Woods (Fazio) Down 10
24 Vaquero Down 7
25 Trinity Forest Down 2
26 Houston Country Club Up 5
27 Lochinvar No change
28 Wolf Point Ranch New entry
29 Carlton Woods (Nicklaus) Down 17
30 Barton Creek (Fazio Foothills) Down 6
31 Houston Oaks New entry
32 TPC Craig Ranch Down 10
33 TPC San Antonio (Oaks) Up 2
34 Royal Oaks CC Dallas Down 2
35 Shady Oaks Down 10
36 Maridoe Up 19
37 Lakewood Country Club No change
38 River Oaks Down 8
39 TPC Las Colinas Up 2
40 University of Texas Up 27
41 Shadow Hawk Down 8
42 Amarillo Down 6
43 Lakeside Country Club Down 5
44 Stonebridge Ranch (Dye) Down 1
45 Traditions Club Up 17
46 Golf Club of Houston (Member) Down 2
47 Woodlands (Tournament) Up 1
48 Dallas Athletic Club (Blue) Up 6
49 Horseshoe Bay (Ram Rock) Up 2
50 Cimarron Hills Up 16
51 Deerwood Up 9
52 Memorial Park Up 36
53 Old American Down 4
54 Woodforest Up 10
55 Hills of Lakeway (Hills) Down 15
56 Champions (Jack Rabbit) Down 14
57 La Cantera (Palmer) No change
58 Wolfdancer Down 13
59 Crown Colony Down 12
60 Walden on Lake Conroe Down 26
61 Golf Club of Houston (Tournament). Down 8
62 Royal Oaks CC Houston Down 16
63 TPC San Antonio (Canyons) Down 2
64 Dallas Country Club Up 5
65 Rockport Down 9
66 Brackenridge Park Up 4
67 Bentwater (Grand Pines) Up 11
68 Texas Rangers New entry
69 Gentle Creek Up 17
70 Willow Brook CC New entry
71 Mira Vista Down 6
72 The Quarry No change
73 Kingwood (Island) New entry
74 Bent Tree Down 11
75 Cowboys Down 17
76 Stevens Park Down 2
77 Comanche Trace (Hills & Valley) Down 9
78 Lakes at Castle Hills Up 5
79 The Tribute Down 20
80 High Meadow Ranch New entry
81 Horseshoe Bay (Apple Rock) Up 13
82 Ridgewood Down 9
83 Stonebriar CC (Fazio) New entry
84 Texas Star Down 13
85 Cypresswood (Tradition) Down 5
86 La Cantera (Resort) Down 2
87 Dallas Athletic Club (Gold) Up 3
88 Midland Up 5
89 Rock Creek Resort Down 10
90 Woodlands (Player) Down 3
91 San Antonio Down 6
92 Westwood Down 1
93 Eagle Pointe Down 1
94 Max A. Mandel Down 5
95 Bentwater (Weiskopf) New entry
96 BlackHorse (South) New entry
97 Canyon Springs New entry
98 Bentwater (Miller) New entry
99 Lubbock Down 3
100 BraeBurn Down 19


Click the link to see full details of our latest Texas Best in State rankings

Next up – the East South Central Division states of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Jim McCann
Editor
Top 100 Golf Courses