Best nontraditional golf courses in Austin — no experience necessary
It's golf season in Austin. The temperatures are mild (by Texas standards), the rain forecasts are usually wrong (except when they're not), and every store is stocked with sunscreen and antihistamines.
But what if you don’t have the money or patience to become a scratch player? No problem. Austin has plenty of golf-inspired activities for anyone looking to ramble outdoors for a bit, throw back a few libations, and make some friendly wagers.
Roy G. Guerrero Disc Golf Course
If you’re more accurate with a disc than a driver, trade in the clubs for a bag of frisbees and head to the Roy G. Guerrero Disc Golf Course. It’s got all the scoring and nature of golf, without any of the greens fees, cart rentals, or clothing requirements (not saying you can get naked, but no one’s going to kick you out for wearing a bathing suit). According to DGCourseReview.com, Roy G. Guerrero has a 4.19 out of 5 rating, second only to Circle C Ranch Metro Park on Slaughter Lane with 4.44 out of 5. But if you live central, Roy G. Guerrero is closest.
Caddy tip: Just do what this guy did.
Harvey Penick Footgolf
Another golf hybrid that’s beginning to gain some traction is footgolf, which should really be spelled fútgolf. Footgolf takes the scoring and rules of golf and combines them with the ball kicking of soccer. Harvey Penick is the first and only footgolf course in Austin and is relatively affordable ($8 for kids at all times, $10 for adults on the weekdays, and $13 for adults on the weekends). You’re encouraged to bring your own size-five soccer ball or can rent one for an additional $5. And if you really want to take all the cardio out of soccer, you can rent a golf cart.
Caddy tip: Watch this goofy video for a full explanation of the rules.
Peter Pan Mini Golf
Part putting green, part sculpture garden, and fun for all ages, Peter Pan Mini Golf has been an "Austin tradition since 1946." The two courses — east and west — pose an entertaining challenge for both sober individuals and those who take advantage of the BYOB policy (no glass bottles). The east course is said to be the easier of the two, but the west is home to the iconic Peter Pan/Buddy the Elf statue seen from the street. Your best bet and value is to play both courses for $11 ($9 for kids under 6), but you can also play one or the other for $7 ($5 for kids under 6).
Caddy tip: Bring cash. Credit cards are not accepted.
Butler Park Pitch & Putt
If minigolf is a little too childish for you, walk across the street to Butler Park Pitch & Putt. Whether you’re working on your short game or easing your way into the game of golf, Butler offers 805 yards of lush landscaping, half swinging, and day drinking. All you need is a ball, a putter, a couple of high-lofted irons, and a koozie. And if you don't have the equipment, the park rents these out as well. The park also sells beer in the clubhouse and credit cards are accepted. You can bring your dog along before peak hours, but don’t forget to pick up after them. Prices range from $9 on weekdays to $11 on weekends, with discounts for seniors.
Caddy tip: Remember rule No. 7, “Golfers are responsible for any damage caused by golf balls they hit.” The course is surrounded by cars and businesses.
Hancock Golf Course
If you’ve held your own at Butler and think you’re ready for full swings, Hyde Park’s Hancock Golf Course is the perfect place to put all aspects of your golf game to the test. With nine holes ranging from a 462-yard par five to a 144-yard par three, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to pull out your putter and your driver. And even if you’re terrible, this scenic stretch of Waller Creek makes for a lovely stroll or a relaxing golf cart ride. Prices for the first nine holes range from $14 on weekdays to $17 on weekends, with discounts for seniors, juniors, students, and sunset tee times. You can also rent a golf cart for $13 or a pull cart for $5.
Caddy tip: Leashed dogs are allowed at Hancock and all Austin Public Links courses.
Drink specials, tasty food, and good times abound at this North Austin driving range, which is less about form and more about fun. Players can compete against each other in seven different kinds of games, made more complicated (or easy) by the different targets peppered across the range. Here you can practice your putting, test out the strength or your drive, or just try your darndest to hit a target.
Cady tip: If you want to take your swing to the next level, TopGolf also offers classes.
Last and least to do with actual golf, there’s bar golf, where holes are drinking establishments and strokes are sips. All you need is an ID proving you’re 21, a functioning liver, a credit card, and a designated driver. Courses are usually nine walkable “holes,” with pars ranging from a one-stroke shot to a six-strokes half-liter of Budweiser. Some bros from the Houston Bar Golf Association tackled Dirty Sixth (you’ll have to find a replacement for Logan’s on Sixth), but Austin has plenty of watering holes and neighborhoods to play through.
Caddy tip: Bar Golf is a great excuse to watch real golf on TV.