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Playing the Azalea Golf Trail

New Mexico and Louisiana have golf trails and now Texas has a golf trail that includes some of the best East Texas golf courses. This East Texas golf trail, appropriately named after the colorful azaleas that East Texas is known for and which add beauty to all seven of the outstanding East Texas golf courses that are part of the . The courses are spread out between Cedar Creek Lake just south east of Dallas and Waskom which is close to Shreveport, La.

Dockside cabin at Garden ValleyWhen we played the Azalea Trail we started by playing Pinnacle Golf Club on Cedar Creek Lake, then took an hour drive through some scenic rolling country back roads to spend the night in the dockside cabins at Garden Valley. The two bedroom cabins are well appointed, upscale, fully equipped, and overlook a lake and the 18th green - perfect for a golf stay and play. In addition to the dockside cabins, Garden Valley offers cute rustic A-frame cabins, condo style accommodations that can sleep up to 18, or a cabin on the lake and next to the 12th green. Read our Garden Valley Stay & Play Review to learn more.

The next day we played the fantastic Garden Valley Golf Course, took a zip line tour in Canton at Wired (which closed a few months later), and enjoyed a good Italian meal in nearby Canton. After all that we were ready for a final dip in the pool at the Garden Valley Club House and a good nights sleep in the comfortable bed in the dockside cabins. The following day we were up early for a round of golf at Eagles Bluff in Bullard (just south of Tyler) and then to play 18 at The Challenge at the Woods in Jacksonville, just 15 miles south of Eagles Bluff. If this route is part of your plan, an excellent option for lodging would be to stay at Kiepersol Winery which has a very unique B&B, excellent upscale restaurant, and a winery that is located just south of Eagles Bluff. Another option for lodging would be the cute cabins or RV sites at Texas Outside's top rated RV park - Mill Creek RV Resort. Mill Creek is just off I-20 and within 50 minutes or so of any of the Azalea Golf Trail courses

Fernbrook RV ResortAfter playing The Challenge at the Woods, because we loved the Garden Valley course and the accommodations at Garden Valley so much, we thought about heading back to Garden Valley and commuting to the other courses - an easy and scenic 40 to 80 minute trip to any of the other courses - but decided against it and headed to Longview to stay in a new RV park. Fernbrook RV Resort is a very quiet and peaceful campground with easy access to I-20 and a 25 to 35 minute commute to play the other three courses in Gladewater, Longview, and Waskom. We played during the heat wave of 2011 and each day was over 100 and after golf it didn't take long for us to grab a cold beer and head for Fernbrook's pool to cool off.

Longview offers a variety of accommodations (on Highway 20 there is a Motel 6, Hampton Inn, and Baymont - all of which are reasonable and provide easy access to the courses), some things to see and do, good restaurants, and some lively nightlife. During our stay in Longview we must have been on an anti American food binge - we enjoyed some good curry at a Thai restaurant, some good Italian pasta, an excellent chili relleno at a nearby Mexican restaurant, and some good Vietnamese soup and pork vermicelli. Another option for lodging is to stay in Tyler which puts you anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour from any of the seven courses. Use our Tyler map to find some lodging as well as our list of the Top Ten Things To See & Do In Tyler.

So, you're thinking to yourself, what does Texas Outside think of this Texas Golf Trail! Well the answer is - we loved it. Each of the courses are very unique and different and have their own personality and challenges. All of the courses, except one were rated above an 8 out of 10 on six criteria - condition, challenge, scenic beauty, variety, fun, and value - and a couple are in Texas Outside's Top 20 Public and Top 20 Private Golf Courses. We liked the golf trail so much and had such a good time that we are planning to play the Azalea Trail again next year with some good friends from Arizona.

Here is a map of the Azalea Golf Trail courses which can help you plan your trip and below is our summary of the courses and a link to our review of each course with scorecard info, pictures, our rating, and what we thought of the Azalea Golf Trail Courses.

Azalea Golf Trail Golf Courses - Review, Rating & Description

Azalea Golf Trail Course Picture
Golf Course Information
Azalea Trail Golf Course Description
Eagles Bluff Golf Course

Eagles Bluff

Bullard, Texas

Texas Outside Review

Texas Outside Rating 9

Eagles Bluff is the premier course on the Azalea Golf Trail with excellent conditions, first class facilities, and a very good layout. An outstanding course that is challenging but fair, tests a large part of your game, is scenic and peaceful, and a blast to play. This private course is only available for public play as a part of playing some or all of the Azalea Trail.
The Challenge At Gladewater golf hole

The Challenge at Gladewater

Gladewater, Texas

Texas Outside Review

Texas Outside Rating 7.4

The Challenge at Gladewater opened as a nine hole course in 1933 and another nine, which is now the front nine was added in 2008. Each nine is very different from the other - the front has narrow tree lined roller coaster fairways and small challenging greens with tiers and ridges while the back is much more straightforward and traditional with wider more forgiving fairways and larger flatter greens. Very reasonable rates.
The Challenge at the Woods golf course

The Challenge at the Woods

Jacksonville, Texas

Texas Outside Review

Texas Outside Rating 8.3

Jacksonville may not be well known but it is home to a real hidden gem! The Challenge at the Woods is one of those courses that are pleasant surprises and you can't wait to play it again. The course will give you a little bit of everything (creeks and ponds, bunkers, tight fairways, elevation changes, dog legs, and blind shots) but it's short, forgiving, fun to play, and a very good value.
Garden Valley Golf Course

Garden Valley Golf Club

Lindale, Texas

Texas Outside Review

Texas Outside Rating 9

Garden Valley Golf Club is one of our favorites and this award winning course has been compared to Augusta National. It offers some really fun holes, beautiful scenery with lots of color, excellent conditions, and very good greens. In addition, Garden Valley has a variety of excellent choices for a golf stay and play with upscale cabins to a funky lake house to a condo that will sleep up to 18 of your best friends. A must play!
The Challenge at Oak Forest

The Challenge at Oak Forest

Longview, Texas

Texas Outside Review

Texas Outside Rating 8.4

The Challenge at Oak Forest is one of those course that you walk off saying "that was an enjoyable round of golf" and wondering when you'll get to play it again. Oak Forest is another private course that is available for public play as part of the Azalea Trail and it offers very good conditions, a meandering creek that can cause problems, some beautiful homes lining one side of the fairway, an excellent pace of play, and some challenging greens.
Pinnacle Golf Club

Pinnacle Golf Club

Payne Springs, Texas

Texas Outside Review

Texas Outside Rating 8.6

The Pinnacle Golf Club on Cedar Creek lake is probably the most challenging of all of the courses on the Azalea Golf Trail. The fairways are all tree lined and most are very tight - spray the ball and you've got trouble. Plus you'll find water on 10 holes and 43 bunkers to contend with. Don't let all that scare you, this is a terrific course with some outstanding holes that are unique and fun. To score well here you may want to leave the driver in the bag and carry a chain saw to help you find your ball in the woods.
The Challenge at Cypress Hills

The Challenge at Cypress Hills

Waskom, Texas

Texas Outside Review

Texas Outside Rating 8.8

Wow, what a fantastic layout under the tall stately East Texas pines. Each hole at The Challenge at Cypress Hills is unique and different from any of the others. You'll encounter elevated tee boxes, dog legs left and right, uphill and downhill shots, greens of all shapes and sizes, forced carries over water, wide open to tight fairways, and more - plus good conditions and reasonable rates. A must play.