SAN ANTONIO -- The Alamo City is known for its great Tex-Mex food, the San Antonio Spurs, the Tower of Americas and the Riverwalk. It's a pretty good golf destination as well, especially with the recent addition of some world-class resorts and mild weather in the fall, winter and spring.
The best part is that there's a golf vacation or course to meet every budget. Here is a quick guide to finding the right San Antonio golf for you.
High-end San Antonio golf
With the 2010 addition of the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort, home of the Texas Open on the PGA Tour as well as the AT&T Championship on the Champions Tour, San Antonio upped its premium golf ante.
The PGA Tour event is staged on Greg Norman's AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, considered one of hardest golf courses in Texas; and the Champions Tour plays on the Pete Dye-designed AT&T Canyons Course at TPC San Antonio. To play both courses, however, you have to stay at the resort, which (with more than 1,000 rooms) is the largest JW Marriott in the world. A PGA Tour Academy, spa, water park, several restaurants and a pretty nice sports help complete the experience.
The Texas Open's previous home, the Westin La Cantera, remains a pretty good choice as well, and the resort has been updated in recent years to remain competitive in this high-end market. In fact, nowhere in San Antonio will you find better views, and the two golf courses -- Westin La Cantera's Resort Course and Palmer Course -- have plenty of dramatic elevation changes, lots of risk-reward scoring opportunities, and are, in general, just a blast to play.
For a little more strategic test, check out the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort, located near Sea World. Designed by Arthur Hills, course management is a must, but the course does lend itself well to risk-reward as well. Here, golfers will find wildlife, beautiful surroundings and a terrific resort, which has its own water park, top-notch dining and super comfortable rooms.
Mid-level San Antonio golf courses
A more moderately priced resort in the area is Tapatio Springs, located northwest of San Antonio in Boerne. This is a real escape to nature, about as quiet and peaceful as it gets, and the whole resort, including all 27 holes, were recently upgraded.
San Antonio's premium municipal course, Brackenridge Park Golf Course, is also a great mid-priced option. This A.W Tillinghast classic was the home of the Texas Open for more than four decades. It was overhauled in 2009 with new MiniVerde greens and TifSport fairways and roughs. Given its historical significance, and the fact that it's now the home of the Texas Golf Hall of Fame, it's definitely a must-play for visitors.
Another really good choice is The Quarry Golf Club, a unique Keith Foster design that is most memorable. The front nine is a bit linksy in design, while the back nine was dredged out of an old stone quarry, creating memorable holes surrounded by rock cliffs.
Other excellent mid-priced daily fees include The Republic Golf Club, Olympia Hills Golf Club in Universal City, Canyon Springs Golf Club and The Golf Club of Texas at Briggs Ranch, the latter of which is an outstanding Lee Trevino design.
Value-priced San Antonio golf
If you're looking for something a little more economical, check out the city's other municipal tracks, including Olmos Basin, one of the city's most popular public golf courses, as well as Cedar Creek Golf Club, an excellent and very challenging Finger-Dye-Spann design, and one of my favorites, Willow Springs.
Willow Springs, which is usually in pretty good shape, opened in 1923. It was designed by Emil Loeffler and John McGlynn, who also created Latrobe (Pa.) Country Club, where Arnold Palmer learned to play.
Willow Springs is one of those courses that locals love and out-of-towners don't know much about, but visitors should check it out. It's in pretty good shape these days, has some elevation change and is very challenging, playing to more than 7,200 yards from the tips.
The course, which is located 10 minutes east of the River Walk, has been the site of several Texas Opens.
Other San Antonio daily fees worth considering
Silverhorn Golf Club is a Randy Heckenkemper design that opened in 1996 and is also a great value for the money. Heckenkemper worked with PGA Tour pros Willie Wood and Scott Verplank to build a course that would not only test really good players, but also be enjoyable to the average player.
And there's also the Flying L Guest Ranch and Resort. Located in Bandera, just west of Boerne, rolling hills and towering oaks set the scene as a backdrop to the Flying L golf course. The signature par-3 seventh hole features a green surrounded by water on three sides with a spectacular view of the hill country.