Course Review – Sky Creek Ranch

Course Review – Sky Creek Ranch

Keller’s Sky Creek Ranch has been one of our top west courses for a number of years. Coming in at No. 4 last year, behind only Cowboys Golf Club, Texas Rangers Golf Club and Texas Star, this property boasts a one-of-a-kind layout and all the great amenities you can ask out of a great daily-fee course. 

When you arrive at Sky Creek, you are met with a nice clubhouse that sits atop the hill looking down at the course below. There is a nice patio where you can enjoy a beverage pre- or post-round, and the pro-shop has plenty of the latest gear should you need to grab something before your round. The restaurant in the clubhouse has some great selections for grub, with items like the bang-bang shrimp, grilled fish tacos or their fantastic barbecue. The pulled pork grilled cheese is a must-try if you are going to stick around and have some lunch or dinner after your round.  

Sky Creek Ranch has a very entertaining, but tough course. We have always felt that flipping the nines would make this a better overall experience, as the opening few holes are narrow and tough. Even the best ball-strikers will find the opening few holes to be tough customers. Plus, if you do play in the early morning, tracking the ball on the first few holes can be a challenge due to the rising sun.  

Water comes into play on 16 of the 18 holes, so a few extra nuggets in the bag may be a good idea. Sky Creek is also a layout that features five par 3s and five par 5s, so if you lack the ace or albatross on your golf resume, might as well play here and increase your odds.

No. 1 is a par 4 that plays 413 from the back tees and really gives players a test right from the jump. A creek crosses the fairway which comes into play, so it may be a good decision to lay up short of it, rather than take it on and bring a big number into play right off the bat. A right center tee shot leaves a good angle to a green guarded by a bunker short and left. It’s a tough hole right out of the gate, but, hey, at least you got it out of the way. 

No. 2 is a real bear. It is a 440-yarder with a tight landing area and water that guards the putting surface left. A drive up the right can slide off the fairway and lead to tree trouble, so favor the left or left center of the landing area. Avoid left on your approach at all costs, as water will devour balls that land over on that side. If you must miss, make sure to leave it short and right, although the large green can lead to a tricky up-and-down. 

After navigating the No. 3 handicap hole at the second, Architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. again attacks players with a narrow par 4 that plays as the most difficult hole on this par-72 layout. The fairway here is like trying to hit a golf ball down a hallway, with seemingly no room to miss, even by just a little bit. Finding the right side of the fairway leaves the best angle to this very slight and narrow green. It’s as demanding a hole as you will find anywhere in DFW. 

The first par 3 at Sky Creek is the 169-yard fourth. Club selection is paramount here, as it plays slightly uphill to a tabletop green. Short and left is dead, so the best play here is firing one to the middle of the green, then taking your two-putt and heading on to the next one. Challenging a back left pin can be a mistake, but finding the fat part of the green can be a tough two-putt. It’s a great little par 3.

At 534 yards, the par-5 fifth is a great risk vs. reward hole. Again, a narrow, tree-framed fairway awaits, so missing left or right will likely mean a layup shot. The real bombers can give this green a go in two, but be sure to account for the elevated green. 

After another par 4, the second par 5 of the round comes at the seventh hole. This has to be one of my favorite holes on the course, as it is a true grip-it-and-rip-it shot off the tee. Although the tee shot is blind, there is plenty of room for a ball that might stray a bit. Find the fairway, and there is a real chance to get to the green and have a putt for an eagle. Yes, there is water that guards the green, but it’s possible to get there. If you do lay-up, be aware that this two-tiered green can be tricky, so a dialed-in wedge is a must. 

After the par-3 eighth hole, a final par 4 of the outward nine awaits players before the turn. This 424-yard hole features a significant slope from left to right, so target the fairway bunker off the tee and watch the terrain slingshot your ball forward into a green-light distance. Avoid missing right as any shots too far that direction will require scuba gear to locate. 

No. 10 has to be one of the more interesting holes at Sky Creek Ranch. There is no need for the big dog here, as this is a hole where placement off the tee is the primary concern. Favor the right side of the fairway to avoid getting behind a group of trees that can block out the green on your approach. Short and right here can find a grass bunker that can lead to a poor lie and a dicey up-and-down attempt. 

Holes 12, 13 and 14 at Sky Creek might be my favorite stretch on the course. No. 12 is a reachable par 5, but a small green can make it hard to hold longer iron shots. Although a simple up-and-down can yield a birdie on this one. No. 13 is a sharp dogleg left where players can challenge a fairway bunker and saw off some of the length. It’s the No. 2 handicap, but an accurate tee shot can leave you with a manageable approach. Too much cut with the driver can lead to trouble, as the fairway narrows. There is always the option to lay back into the fatter part of the fairway, but what fun is that? The final hole of this fantastic three-hole stretch is a daunting 212-yard par 3 that features water all down the right that cozies right up to the green. Missing right is no good, so the only reasonable bailout is short and left of the putting surface. It’s a hole where being aggressive can lead to a big number, so playing to the middle of the green is your friend.  

A short par 5 at No. 15 can give players a nice birdie opportunity before a tough finish. Missing a little right is just fine and should leave a reasonable chance to get home in two or, at worst, leave a short pitch-and-putt to scribble a four on the card.

The final stretch at Sky Creek Ranch is fun, with a par 4, 3 and 5. No. 16 is the sixth-most difficult hole on the course, but it doesn’t really play like it. Birdies can be had here with a solid tee shot and a good approach. The real danger here is catching a speed slot over the trap on the left that can springboard balls down the fairway and in danger of catching a second bunker in the middle of the short grass. Avoid that bunker and you have a reasonable approach to a receptive green. 

No. 17 is the final of Sky Creek’s five par 3s. It is a long one, playing 228 yards from the plates. From the tips to the one-in golds is a difference of almost 50 yards, so be sure you are playing tees that are appropriate for your game, or you may find yourself smashing a three-metal or driver on this hole. The miss is right, and the bunker isn’t a terrible place to end up. 

The final hole at Sky Creek is another par 5 that benefits being bold. A good tee shot up the right center of the fairway will offer players a chance to get home in two and card one final birdie or better. A pair of bunkers guard the green on the right, so be mindful that they’re there, but this hole can give you one final look at a tweeter on the day.  

Sky Creek offers great course conditions and a superb layout. Sure, it can be a little tough, but it is definitely one of those courses that will round your game into shape. Sky Creek is a daily fee course that plays more like a country club. It is challenging, and the greens are reminiscent of some of the top-tier privates in the area. They are firm, fast and in great shape. 

Sure, it can be a tough nut to crack, but make this a once-a-month course, and I promise your handicap will travel. Add in the upscale dining and the nice clubhouse perched atop one of the highest points in Tarrant County, and you have something special in Sky Creek Ranch.