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Window Shopping: Affordable golf in Dallas-Fort Worth

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As the PGA Tour finishes what used to be the Texas Swing with the HP Byron Nelson Championship and Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I can't help but think how the good the public golf in this area is.

It's also really affordable. And it's not just Dallas and Fort Worth; it's all those communities in between and surrounding the two cities.

In the Dallas area, for example, the choices are endless, and you can find a lot of good golf for under $50, especially if you're willing to hunt for deals online. Take Buffalo Creek just east of Dallas: It's a terrific Jay Morrish-Tom Weiskopf design that you can play for less than $40. Some other great options include Bridlewood Golf Club and Tour 18 in Flower Mound, Robson Ranch in Denton or the Golf Club of Dallas, an old Perry Maxwell design that hosted the first professional tournament in the Metroplex.

If you're just getting off the plane at DFW International Airport, you might want to consider the two courses at Bear Creek. There's the noise of a few low-flying jets, but both the East and West Courses are strategic, picturesque and good values.

One of the best ways to go in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, however, is the municipal route. Both cities and many of their surrounding communities have excellent publicly funded courses. In Dallas, the jewels are Stevens Park Golf Course and the two courses at Tenison Park, including the Highlands Course, one of the best golf courses in the entire area. Both facilities are minutes from downtown, have long histories and recent makeovers and are a true to joy to play. And they're walkable, too, which is pretty rare when it comes to public golf in Texas.

In Arlington, where you'll find Six Flags over Texas theme park, Cowboys Stadium and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, you'll also find Tierra Verde Golf Club, another terrific municipal course. The Panks-Graham design is worth the trip alone, but you'll be hard-pressed to find better clubhouse food. I would go there for the Spanish tapas menu alone.

Another tremendous municipal course is Grapevine Golf Course. Eighteen of the 27 holes were designed by Byron Nelson. Another nine was added by D.A. Weibring, who also renovated the original 18. Conditioning, scenery and challenge rate with courses that cost two or three times as much to play. Like Bear Creek, it's really close to the airport.

And finally, if you find yourself around Ft. Worth, there is plenty of great golf to go with the barbecue near the Stockyards. Play in the afternoon and you can get on the bentgrass greens of the 7,100-yard, par-71 Texas Star Golf Club in Euless for less than $50. Or check out the Arnold Palmer-designed Golf Club at Fossil Creek, which is in Ft. Worth. The course has plenty creeks, lakes, bluffs and huge trees, and is always in terrific shape and you can find some pretty reasonable deals on the Internet. There's also The Golf Club at the Resort, which is right on Eagle Lake in Ft. Worth.