Course Review – Bear Creek Golf Club

Course Review – Bear Creek Golf Club

Bear Creek Golf Club is one of Arcis Golf’s most fun and captivating properties. This centrally located facility was built right in the heart of the Metroplex, just a driver and a couple iron shots away from DFW Airport. With a pair of courses, a lively clubhouse scene, a great outdoor food and beverage area and a massive pavilion, this facility boasts everything one might need for a fun outing with your weekly foursome or a large corporate event or tournament. 

One of the first things you will notice when you arrive at Bear Creek is the spacious clubhouse. The pro shop has everything you need for your day on the course. From golf balls and tees to caps and shirts, you won’t have to go rummaging through your trunk looking for that crusty old glove you used last year. The bar area is clean, and the staff is welcoming should you want to take a load off and have some lunch or cocktails pre- or post-round. The real star of the show at Bear Creek is its outdoor bar area known as “The Backyard.” This whimsical spot just behind the main clubhouse is always buzzing with activity and fun. It features a retro Airstream trailer with fire pits, wooden tables, and lawn games like cornhole. This is a perfect spot to hang when you are done with your round, or pop by at the turn to stock up on any number of snacks or beverage options. It is a feature that really sets Bear Creek apart from any other public facility in the Metroplex. 

The 36-hole layout features the East and West courses and is one of the most oft-visited properties in the area. The East course is the more economical of the courses, but features plenty of challenging holes and some interesting routing.

The par-72 layout opens with a par 5 that plays predominantly downhill, which means a well-struck tee shot gives players the option of going for the green in two, which opens up the possibility of getting the round off to a solid start with a birdie. 

The signature hole on the East is the par-4 fifth hole. A dogleg left that plays 385 yards from the tips, the approach shot is where things can get tricky. Hit the fairway, and the hole becomes simpler, but miss the short grass, and carrying the greenside water hazard suddenly becomes a tough proposition. It’s a well-designed hole and one that will get your attention. 

The eighth hole on the East course is the longest par 4 on the opening nine. A lengthy dogleg right with a water feature running across the fairway, this will require a precision drive and a well-placed iron to avoid a pair of greenside bunkers. A four here is a good score.

No. 13 is one of my favorite holes on the East Course. A sharp dogleg left, this hole requires right-handed players to work the ball right to left. A good tee shot leaves nothing more than a short iron or a wedge. There is a large water feature on the right, so be careful not to hit one straight or with a cut or your ball could end up wet. Avoid the trio of greenside sand traps on your approach, and this is a reasonable chance at a three. 

The 16th is the second par 5 on the back nine and is listed as the No. 4 handicap on the East course. Although it is pretty straightforward, the narrow fairway calls for a precise tee shot. Miss to either side, and you could have some tree trouble and be forced to lay up. Hit a good tee shot and it’s possible to reach the green in two and set yourself up for a chance at an easy birdie. 

The final hole on the East is a par 4. At just 383 yards, this hole offers a last chance at a birdie to head home happy. It does play a little uphill, so be mindful of the elevation change and make sure to take an extra club when attacking the green. A large bunker right of the green can pose a challenge, so favor the left side of the putting surface and don’t fall for a sucker pin on the right.

Of the two Bear Creek courses, I feel the West does have a bit more character, given the elevation changes and slightly superior conditions. I feel the West is also the more difficult of the two layouts, but of course that is all in the eye of the beholder. The front nine on the West is one of the most unique properties in DFW, with interesting elevation changes, blind shots and visually stunning routing.

The opener on the West layout is a par 4 with an elevation change upward to the fairway, and then back downhill to the putting surface. Carry your tee shot over the apex of the hill and down the left center of the fairway, and longer players can challenge the front edge of the green or, at worst, have a flip wedge in. But miss slightly right, and your ball can find water that is just right of the green. A more strategic play of three-metal or hybrid off the tee is an option but fail to reach the top of the hill and the approach will be blind. 

The stretch of No. 2 through No. 8 at Bear Creek is one of my favorite collections of designs in DFW public golf. I know that is a lot of holes, but each one has great design elements and will challenge every aspect of your game. The second hole plays significantly uphill, with a gorgeous rock formation off to the right of the fairway. This tee shot requires precision as the fairway narrows near the landing zone, but hit the fairway and a short approach awaits. 

No 3 is a great, tree-lined downhill par 4 that invites long tee shots. Find this generous fairway and nothing more than a wedge will remain. The long par-5 fourth hole is one of the most fun holes in the area. This tee shot plays significantly uphill, and the second shot is totally blind. Whether you choose to lay up or try to reach the green in two, you really don’t have a great sense of where you are aiming, so picking a good focal point in the distance is key. 

The par-3 fifth is a nice palate cleanser between par 5s. This 185-yarder has a couple greenside bunkers to avoid, but it is fairly straightforward. Be sure to take a peek at the pin placement as a back-hole location can add a club. 

No. 6 is one of my favorite par 5s in DFW. This is a hole where the mantra “tee it high and let it fly” couldn’t be more appropriate. Playing at 525 yards, significantly downhill and usually downwind, long hitters can really mash one here. So much so that the course has a system in place for groups to let those on the tee behind them once they have cleared the fairway below. There used to be a flag that would be raised and lowered as the forward group left the fairway, but that was recently replaced with a light that is on a tree to the left of the tee box. When the light goes green, balls are in the air. A good tee shot here will leave a mid- or even a short-iron over Bear Creek to a green guarded by a pair of large bunkers. It’s a great hole, and one that can be beneficial to the scorecard with a couple quality golf shots. 

The No. 1 handicap on the West course is the sharply uphill par-4 seventh. Although it isn’t a long hole, playing at just 390 yards, the fairway dives hard from left to right and can be borderline impossible to hold if you hit a driver. You can choose to lay up with an iron, but that can leave a mid-iron shot to an elevated green, making it hard to hold. The fairway narrows the closer to the green you get, so this hole really requires a great tee shot. 

No. 8 is a downhill par 3 that plays 190 from the tips, but usually plays a little shorter with the elevation change and a little wind help. Avoid the greenside sand traps, and this can be a pretty simple par. 

As you work your way through the back nine on the West course, there are plenty of more challenging holes to navigate. The inward nine opens with a par 5, but with a good tee ball, it is manageable. Avoid the large bunker on the right side of the fairway off the tee, or you may be forced to lay up.

After a couple of manageable par 4s at 11 and 12, comes the 377-yard No. 13. Full disclosure, this isn’t my favorite hole in DFW, but it is certainly challenging. I debate whether to try to hit an iron to this sliver of fairway or try to advance the ball past the slight dogleg right with a driver. Typically, I opt for the former and just try to find the fairway. This, however, leaves a long approach to a green with a bunker on the left. Offer me a four on this hole on the tee, and I am taking it every time. 

After the par-3 14th and the par-5 15th, Bear Creek West boasts, in my opinion, one of the better finishing trios in the area. The par-4 16th requires a tee shot that crests the hill, and if it does, players are offered another scoring opportunity. A pond short of the green makes you think about what you’re doing with the approach, especially if the pin is playing in the front portion of the putting surface. No. 17 is one of my favorite public par 3s in the DFW area. Playing at 178 yards from the tips, the green is situated across a pond and tucked back into a nook of trees. The hole is framed beautifully, and a small waterfall just off the tee box to the right adds a serene bit of white noise as you prepare to pull the trigger. Bunkers left and right of the green choke your vision of the front edge down a bit, making you think middle of the green. It’s a well-designed hole and one that I think you will truly enjoy time and time again.

The par-4 18th is a great finishing hole, as longer hitters can take tee shots right over the left fairway bunker and have nothing more than a wedge remaining. Shorter hitters can play out to the right and still have a scoring opportunity. Overall, the West course has a great layout.

Tree-lined fairways, rolling undulation changes and large greens make it a great experience and a must-play for DFW residents.

Bear Creek Golf Club is the total package for not only great golf, but a fun and inviting atmosphere. Over the last several years, they have really stepped up their game with the addition of “The Backyard” and some on-course updates. The courses aren’t quite the value they used to be, but they are comparably priced to other similar properties in DFW, and with all the work they have put into the courses, they are absolutely worth what they are charging. If there is one slight knock on Bear Creek, it is the courses are almost always super crowded, so be sure you book your tee time early and prepare for a four-hour round, especially on weekends. 

Golf, fun, food and drink. Maybe it’s time for a trip to Bear Creek.