Although it has a Dallas address, Bear Creek Golf Club is conveniently located at the southwest corner of DFW Airport, making it a perfect place for locals and travelers alike to enjoy a day on the links. 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, leaving those that hit a quality tee shot with an opportunity to give the green a run with their second shot and secure an opening birdie or better, but find one of a pair of fairway bunkers off the tee and a lay-up will be necessary.
The first par-3 on the East course is No. 3. This 175-yarder will test a mid-iron for the skilled player, and the key is to avoid a greenside bunker to the right. Find the middle of the putting surface and march on to the next hole avoiding damage to the scorecard.
The signature hole on the East is the par-4 fifth hole. A dogleg left that plays 385 yards from the championship tees, the approach shot is the name of the game. Hit the fairway, and you should be in good shape, but catch a rugged lie off the tee and carrying the greenside water hazard suddenly becomes a daunting task. It’s a fun hole, and one that can pile some strokes on your score if you aren’t careful.
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 layout. A hard dogleg left that plays as the No. 6 handicap, this hole is a dream for those right-handed players able to sling a draw from right to left. With the extra roll, this shouldn’t be more than a short iron or wedge into the green. There is a large pond on the right, so be careful not to hit one straight or with a cut or your ball could find a watery grave. 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 a punch out, leaving a long third. Hit the short stuff off the tee and longer hitters can definitely give the green a go and assure an easy birdie.
The ultimate hole on the East is a par-4 and a fun way to finish up the round. At just 383 yards, this hole offers one final chance to shave a stroke off the score. It does play a little uphill, so be mindful of the elevation change and make sure to take an extra club on the approach shot. 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, the West does have a bit more character and generally superior playing conditions. During our recent visit, I found the West course to be the more enjoyable to play, but it is also the more difficult of the two tracks.
The front nine on the West is one of the unique properties in DFW, with interesting elevation changes, blind shots and visually stunning rock formations scattered across the opening few holes.
The first hole is a par-4 with a crowned fairway that eliminates a look at the green from the tee box. Carry the crest of the hill and longer players are capable of chasing one up close to the front edge of the putting surface. A pitch and a putt later and you could be off to a nice start to your round. The only caveat to the first couple holes on the West is that they will almost always play back into the prevailing southerly winds, which can make them play a bit longer than advertised, especially the second shot on No. 2, which will be played from the apex of a hill and can balloon once it gets above the tree line.
No. 3 is another par-4 that plays significantly downhill and down wind. Tee shots that carry the hill will find a speed slot and chase within wedge range but be sure to favor the left side of the fairway as it slopes from left to right and balls can bound into the right rough.
The fifth is a par-3 that plays along the property line, and just beyond the green lies Bear Creek Cemetery. It definitely makes for an interesting backdrop to the hole but can also bring a calming peace as you trudge toward the putting surface.
The second par-5 on the West layout is one of my favorite holes on the property. The sixth hole once again plays downhill and downwind. In fact, the fairway landing area is blind, so there is a red flag players must raise as they wait for the green to clear to prevent those groups on the tee from firing away as they wait below. Once you are given the all-clear, a good tee shot will chase down the hill and leave an opportunity to go at the green in two. However, beware of the crossing creek short of the green, as it can swallow any mishits and things can go awry quickly.
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. Although it may not look like much on the scorecard, a par here is a good score.
As you work your way through the back nine on the West course, there are plenty of more challenging holes to navigate. The back 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.
If there is one hole on the West course that I could change, it would likely be the par-4 13th. Carved through the trees, this awkward snaking hole requires a finesse left-to-right shot off the tee, and then an iron shot back in the other direction for your approach. I felt the fairway was too narrow, almost inviting a backwards thinking shot selection off the tee. Of course, if you can execute a pinpoint long iron shot, you won’t have anything more than an 8-iron remaining, but I found myself thinking the smarter way to play the hole may be something like 6-iron off the tee followed by a 5-iron approach. The hole definitely requires you to think, but from an architectural standpoint, I would like to see a larger landing area off the tee.
After the par-3 14th and the par-5 15th, Bear Creek West boasts, in my opinion, one of the better finishing trio’s 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-3’s 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, subtle greens make it a great experience and a must-play for DFW residents.
Bear Creek boasts all of the amenities one would need for a fun day out of the house. A nice clubhouse with a dining and bar area for pre- or post-round meals and beverages. The pro shop is stocked with just about everything you could possibly need for your round, with plenty of gear, balls and other necessities that you may need for the day on the course. That, coupled with its convenience to anywhere in the Metroplex, and you have an affordable, easy to get to property that may become one of your favorites.
With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting just about every industry, golf seems to be one of the few that isn’t taking as much of a hit. Arcis properties are remaining open at this time with protocol in place to keep everyone safe. But once this situation passes, I highly recommend a day at Bear Creek. Both courses are unique in the own right, with plenty of challenge and great design elements. Whether you choose the East, West, or make an entire day of it by playing 36, Bear Creek offers golfers a great time at a reasonable rate.
Bear Creek Golf Club
3500 Bear Creek Ct
Dallas, TX, 75261