Nestled into the suburbs of Keller, lies the majestic Sky Creek Ranch. A beautiful 18-hole course designed by the world-renowned Robert Trent Jones Jr., a man whose courses are synonymous with possessing uniqueness while being environmentally conscious. Sky Creek Ranch’s design and layout is no different from that.
The first thing you notice when pulling into Sky Creek ranch is their clubhouse. The clubhouse is perched atop the highest point in Tarrant County, and from the clubhouse point you have a phenomenal view of the fine Bermuda fairways and greens that are framed by a barrage of oak trees and carved by the Big Bear Creek which runs along the course and runs in between the 9th & 18th holes. The clubhouse provides a gorgeous backdrop as you approach the 9th and 18th holes that make this breathtaking course even more scenic.
As you approach the first tee box, you pass the practice range where they keep things relaxed with music playing across the range which in my own personal opinion is a big plus. I enjoy listening to music with a speaker in the cart as I am playing, and frankly it’s the only way I like to play, so anytime a course is music friendly, I appreciate it.
The first hole is a par 4 that plays 413 from the Championship tees. It is a slightly downhill tee shot where you have a gorgeous view of the tree tops along the course as well as a straight shot onto the fairway. There is a creek that comes into play about 275 yards from the tee box, this creek serves as a reminder that there is more water to come, so be advised. Play your drive down the right center of the fairway to give yourself the best approach shot for the green but be sure to avoid the bunker guarding the front of the green on the left.
Hole no. 2 at Sky Creek Ranch plays as a long par 4, and the number 3 handicap on the course. At 440 yards from the blacks, it is best to aim to the left center of the fairway to avoid the trees the creep in on the right. A water hazard is in play to the left of the bunker so aim for the right side of the green on your approach and you should be well set to make par or birdie depending on where your approach shot lands.
After playing the 3rd most difficult hole on the course, things don’t get any easier with the par 4 3rd as it is the number 1 handicap at Sky Creek Ranch. It is only 407 yards but accuracy is crucial off the tee box. The fairway is much more generous along the right side of the hole. Be advised that there is water about 30 yards in front of the green that could cause problems leading to the narrow green.
The par 3 fourth all comes down to club selection. The elevated green makes it challenging but landing on the green is doable. The pin place meant can make this hole vary as much as two clubs along with wind. If you play to the center of the green, then you should have no issues two putting for par, or even landing the birdie.
The 5th hole is the first par 5 you encounter at Sky Creek Ranch. This dogleg right will most likely take you three shots to get to the green. The key is to play it safe on the second shot, opting not to lay up could get you in some trouble. Take your three shots and aim for par on this hole.
The par 4 6th is my favorite hole on the course, mainly because I only had to use my hybrid off the tee, which I am a big fan of due to my disdain for my driver at times. Distance is not all that important on this hole, but beware of the bunkers that guard the front of the green. Take one more club and you will be set up for a birdie opportunity.
The 7th hole par 5 is the second par 5 on the front 9 and plays as the 5th most difficult hole on the course. Your tee shot is blind over a hill but don’t be afraid to pull the driver out and let it rip because this hole plays 556 from the back. With a good drive, a shot over the water and onto the green isn’t too far fetched, but be advised that it is a lot longer than it looks. It is also important to put your approach shot on the correct level of this two-tiered green.
The par 3 8th hole is a deceptively tricky shot. At first glance it looks like an easy ready but analyze it carefully or you will end up long or short of the green in the landing zone. Be sure to avoid the bunker in front of the green, but par is easily attainable on this hole.
The 9th hole is a beautiful ending to the front 9. Challenging yet fun, the 9th hole features a fairway that slopes towards the water that lines the entire right side of the hole. The stadium-style green is very inviting for approach shots and sets you up for a birdie opportunity before making the turn.
After making the turn to the 10th, you are presented with a short par 4 that can be intimidating off the tee but you shouldn’t stress over it too much. A solid tee shot with a fairway wood or long iron will leave you with a mid-iron to the green. Be wary of the grass bunker to the right of the green, land in this and you will be looking at bogey or worse.
The wind was against me as I made my way to the par 3 11th hole at Sky Creek Ranch so I decided to go up a club to gator in the wind. At about 195 from the back tees, it’s a rather long hole and I’m a firm believer that it is always better to strike long than short, especially when the hole has two bunkers located to the left and right of the front of the green. There is a landing zone in front of the green if you want to play ultra conservative, but if you aim for the center of the green you will be in good shape.
The 12th hole is another par 5 that is reachable in 2 shots for long hitters. It took me 3 shots to reach the green because I had zero desire to mess with losing my ball in the hazard that comes into play at the front of the green. On your approach, be sure to keep in mind that the green is elevated so don’t hit it short or that will be a joy to deal with.
The 13th at Sky Creek Ranch is a beautiful yet challenging hole, playing as the 2nd handicap on the course. This dogleg left is all about club selection and ball placement, it you make a mistake, bogey is certainly the best you will be able to do on the hole. If you attempt to go long on the fairway you run the risk of getting in trouble for your second shot, trust me. Be wary of the bunker guarding the front right of the green when hitting your approach shot, aim left of the bunker and you should be in good shape.
The par 3 14th hole is in my opinion, the most challenging hole at Sky Creek Ranch. At 212 yards from the Black tees this hole is a beast. The green is lined on the entire right side by the lake so be sure to aim left even if the flag is located on the right. Even if you miss short on the left there is a landing zone to bail you out from any serious water hazard. Par is attainable and with terrific placement, birdie can be had.
The 15th is a par 5 that plays relatively easy and short. A solid drive off the tee box sets you up in perfect condition with this open fairway. Favor hitting the ball to the right side of the fairway to avoid any trouble with a small bunker on the left side. A good second shot can you leave you with a short chip to the green to set up a birdie opportunity.
No. 16 is the final par 4 at Sky Creek Ranch and plays short. Great accuracy will help you on this hole as you will need to aim right of the bunker on the left side of the fairway around 250 yards from the tee box. There is a bunker to the left of the green but players should not have to worry about that if you aim center of the green with your short iron or wedge.
The 17th is the longest par 3 at Sky Creek Ranch and it is a hole that doesn’t give you anything easy either. The right side of the green is covered by a bunker, and there are trees all along the left side of the green. Aiming to the middle of the green and going from there isn’t a bad idea in order to save par. With how smooth the greens are, a birdie isn’t out of reach if you read the greens correctly.
The final hole at Sky Creek Ranch is the scenic 18th, a par 5 that has everything you could want in a hole to end your round. The 18th features a water-hazard on the entire left side of the hole and creeps into the middle of the fairway around 360 yards out from the tee, so unless you are a World Long Drive Champion, you shouldn’t have to worry about sending your tee shot too far and into the water. The green is secluded off to the left and slopes toward the water on the left side of the hole and guarded by two bunkers along the right. You can get on in two if you want to take the risk/reward. If you do go for the green, aim right for your best chance to stay out of the lumber yard. And birdie this par 5 to conclude a great round at Sky Creek Ranch.
As you finish up your round on 18, there is an attendant who will greet you to clean off your clubs and provide cold towels and free water. Not many courses take care of people the way Sky Creek Ranch does, so it is nice to see that type of hospitality being shown by the course and its employees. Not to mention the cold towel is an extremely refreshing way to end a round in the Texas heat.
Sky Creek Ranch Golf Club
Address: 600 Promontory Dr.
Keller, Texas 76248
Phone: (817) 498-1414
Designer: Robert Trent Jones, Jr.
Year opened: 1999
Fairways: Bermuda Grass
Greens: Bermuda grass
Rates: Weekday $57 Weekend $89
Toughest Hole: Par 3 No. 14 is a 212-yard hole that is just as tough as it gets. It is the No. 4 handicap at Sky Creek Ranch but for me it was the most difficult. For some reason, having to carry the ball over the water always psyches me out, and this hole just flat out got the best of me. Even when aiming left to hit the landing zone, I still struggled. It definitely is a challenging hole.
Favorite Hole: The par 4 No. 6 is my favorite hole at Sky Creek Ranch. The landing from the tee box is wide open and you only need a hybrid or fairway wood off of the tee as the hole plays 371 yards from the back tees. There is some water before the green as a creek separates the fairway from the green, and two bunkers that guard the front of the green as well. A great hole that is a lot of fun to play after going through a gauntlet to start the round.
Most Intriguing Hole: I would have to say that the most intriguing hole is the 18th at Sky Creek Ranch. This is a hole that I thoroughly enjoyed playing, but it also includes some difficulty the water to the left of the fairway makes it a challenge if you hit a draw because if you land close to the water you have a giant Oak tree that could block your view of the green and force you to play it safe on your second shot. Overall it is a very intriguing hole and a great hole to finish on.
For more, check out Sky Creek Ranch on the web at www.skycreekranch.com and find Logan Hocutt on Twitter @loganhocutt