Course Review – The Golf Club at Fossil Creek
The Golf Club at Fossil Creek has long been one of the premiere golf properties on the west side of the Metroplex. Since it opened back in 1988, Fossil has been met with rock-solid reviews and an abundance of loyal customers who return again and again to this Arnold Palmer design.
Now a member of the Arcis Golf stable of premium daily fee courses, Fossil has reinvented itself, with a recent clubhouse and bunker renovation that has the course looking as good as ever. The updated clubhouse, which includes the newly named Lifestyle Shop, features loads of new swag that has the updated Fossil Creek logo. From t-shirts and caps to glassware and polos, the shop has everything you may want with the updated branding. In addition, there’s a new food and beverage counter, with multiple draft beers and even a vodka tap that is perfect for those pre-round Bloody Marys or screwdrivers.
The complete bunker renovation includes retrofitting 56 traps with the Better Billy Bunker System, which helps prevent washouts and exposed liners that are antiquated with the current available bunker maintenance technology.
Although it isn’t huge, the driving range has 24 stations, which are perfect for banging balls or warming up pre-round. There is a chipping area and a putting green to roll a few before you get started just to get a feel for the slippery greens, which on our visit were immaculate. The indoor teaching facility is available for lessons from any of the experienced instructors on property.
Playing at 402 yards from the “Palmer” tees, No. 1 is a manageable par 4 that rewards those bold enough to hit driver. Water on the left is reachable with the big dog, and fairway bunkers on the right will collect any balls in that direction. A 3-wood, hybrid or even a long iron will leave a manageable second and take the trouble out of play. But if you’re willing to bang the driver, a wedge in hand is possible and a chance at birdie is more likely.
After a short par-3 No. 3 is a downhill tee shot, which, from the back tees, plays over water. A good drive can leave a mid-iron to a green guarded by water on the left and a bunker on the right.
After the short par-4 fourth, which is a nice risk/reward hole, and the long par-3 fifth comes the intriguing sixth hole. Named “Big Fossil,” this short par 4 requires a pinpoint tee shot and then a short iron or wedge to an elevated green over a rock face just on the other side of a creek at the end of the fairway. The green is narrow, so knowing your yardages is paramount if you want to hit the middle of the green. Even when finding the fairway, this is a tough shot to judge, as the elevated green makes choosing a number tough.
Before you head for the seventh tee, be sure to stop by Fossil’s halfway house, which is called “The Boat House.” This spot, which is churning out some tunes to enjoy as you fuel up, has a complete food and beverage menu that is available to golfers and members of the community who access the Blue Line walking trail that connects the nearby neighborhood to the golf course. A seating area with Adirondack-style furniture, tables, rockers, misters and bistro lights make the ambiance great as you watch or compete in some of the model boat races in the nearby pond. You can also pop back into The Boat House again before you tee off on No. 16.
The long par-4 seventh plays as the toughest hole on this Palmer design. At 430 yards from the back tees, this one doglegs to the right, and distance is necessary to make your approach as manageable as possible. However, longer hitters can bring the crossing creek in play, so a 3-metal for control may be an option. If you should be able to get one down close to the crossing creek, a shorter approach awaits to a slightly elevated green. A par here is a great score.
No. 8 is the second par 5 on the front nine at Fossil Creek. A speed slot in the fairway can slingshot well-struck balls down the fairway, giving players the option to get home in two, but a well-guarded green that features water short and bunkers around the putting surface means a layup might be a smarter decision. The green here is diabolical, with a severe slope from back to front and left to right. Miss on the wrong part of the green here, and a two putt is almost impossible.
No. 10 is the beginning of a great stretch of holes to begin the inward nine. This par 3 is a wild ride from the tips, playing close to 210 yards and a full carry over water. The other caveat here is that this one almost always plays into a prevailing wind, so shots that balloon off the tee often get chewed up by the breeze and end up finding a watery demise. If the wind is howling, from the back tees, this is a hole that will present a stiff challenge. It’s a great, but tough, start to the back.
The quirky 11th hole is a bit of a Rubik’s Cube, but with some course knowledge, it can be solved. The play here is usually a long iron or hybrid to the first landing area directly in front of the tee boxes. A second shot over the native, water-filled creek is required to lay up, again a long iron or hybrid should do the trick, and that will leave short iron or wedge again over a creek to the slightly elevated green. It’s going to play as a three-shot hole almost every time, with the rare exception of a screaming north wind, which might offer longer players a chance to cut the corner off the tee and leave the possibility of trying to make it on in two. It’s highly unlikely, but not completely impossible for the best of the best.
No. 12 and No. 13 are two of the best holes on the property at Fossil. A scenic lake off to the right of the No. 12 tee and fairway makes for a challenging tee ball. Anything down the right runs the risk of finding the hazard. The approach shot is guarded by the same water short and right of the green, as well as a trio of bunkers and mounding around the small green, which makes it a tough up-and-down if you miss the green.
No. 13 is another par 3 that will really get your blood pumping. This peninsula green and elevated tee box makes club selection tough, and depending on your ball flight and pin position, you may have to start your ball over water to access the pin. If you are playing smart, hitting the fat part of the green and two-putting for par is a great way to escape without major damage to your scorecard. It’s a white-knuckle ride.
After a manageable par 4, comes another scenic hole, the 394-yard 15th. This tee shot works uphill toward a cross creek that makes hitting driver a bit iffy for the long hitters. 3-metal or hybrid for position is a crafty play and leaves a challenging approach over water to a green that is fairly narrow from front to back and slopes severely from left to right. Miss the green left, and you will be faced with a slick pitch shot that can be tough to get close. It’s a pretty hole, and one that can pose a tough par should you miss the fairway or the green in regulation.
No. 17 plays as the second-hardest hole on the course. The uphill tee shot requires a power-fade, but beware, a large fairway bunker collects shots that overcut. Another compact green awaits, with bunkers on both sides. And the gentle gradient change from tee to green makes the approach play at least a half club longer than you may think, although coming up a bit short leaves a fairly straightforward pitch-and-putt par. This one is about keeping the ball in play off the tee and your club selection on approach.
The closing hole at Fossil Creek is another par 5 that features a significant dogleg. No. 11 works its way right, this hole bends back to the left. Again, the longer hitters may need to keep driver in the bag, as a downhill draw may run all the way into a meandering creek. However, playing at just 555, many can hit 3la-wood off the tee, and still be able to give the green a run in two. If you lay up, beware of the pair of bunkers on the right. Anything in the fairway on a layup leaves nothing more than a wedge shot for your third. The dense vegetation behind the green can be tough to manage if you airmail the green, so be mindful of that. It is a final opportunity for a birdie with a good shot off the tee.
The Golf Club at Fossil Creek is more than just a great property for teeing it up. They also specialize in weddings, if you are looking for a gorgeous venue to tie the knot. “The Glen,” which is set among the beautiful oak trees and features golf course backdrops, provides a perfect setting for the ceremony. The trees can even be up-lit for a dramatic effect, and pendant lighting illuminates the patio. New stairs and a stamped concrete walkway lead to the ceremony site, which can seat nearly 200. Fossil is also a great spot for your corporate outing, fundraiser or charity tournament.
Recent changes, in addition to the updated clubhouse and complete bunker renovation, also include a new dynamic logo and some other subtle updates that have this course back in the conversation for best among daily fee courses on the west side of the Metroplex. Arnie left us with a great layout at Fossil, and it’s a course you need to play, not only because of their recent updates, but because it is a fun, dynamic layout with plenty of personality, mixed with a solid variety of challenges for your game.