For those in the northern part of the Metroplex, there is a true one-of-a-kind public golf experience. Watters Creek has been discussed many times in the magazine over the years, mainly in our Best of Public issue, where it routinely receives our kudos for its total package when it comes to practicing the game.
If you are at all familiar with the property, then it is easy to see why. An expansive driving range, nine-hole Futures Course and short-game area are second to none when it comes to public practice facilities. This facility is one of the very few municipal destinations with an 18-hole layout, range, nine-hole course and short-game area. To say it is a range rat’s dream would be an understatement.
The Futures Course features nine holes that range from 40-120 yards in length, with two tee boxes per hole and five bunkers scattered about. The area is lighted to provide some extra practice hours during the shorter days of fall and winter. If you are just getting started and not quite committed to taking on a full 18 holes just yet, this is a perfect primer to get you familiar with being on the course. It’s also a great spot to refine your short game if you are looking to shed those final few strokes off your handicap. Regardless, it’s a great spot to work off some post-work stress or knock out some practice.
The Players Course, which has six par-3s and three par-4s, features three sets of tees and a trio of bunkers. This is a great spot to knock out a few holes if the honey-do list awaits and you’re short on time.
The neighboring short-game facility boasts three chipping greens surrounded by five bunkers of various depths with varying hills that can provide just about any lie a player might face while playing a round. There is fairway cut and rough cut to emulate any condition you might see on the course.
The 18-hole layout at Watters Creek is fantastic. Even in January, the course was playable and fun. From the back tees, the opening hole plays 444 yards. The dormant conditions during our visit shortened the hole a bit, as a long cut tee shot took a forward bounce and left nothing more than a wedge remaining. The real danger here is a tee shot that strays to the right, which can find the trees or even wind up in neighboring Russell Creek.
I thoroughly enjoy the second hole at Watters, which is a par-4 that requires accuracy off the tee. Water on the left and small evergreen trees on the right can make this hole a challenge, so finding the fairway is at a premium on this 351-yarder.
The third is the opening par-3 on the course. Playing at 153 from the back, there is water to carry, and it plays a sneaky bit uphill, so choose your club carefully.
The par-5 fourth hole is an architectural delight. There is a reason it is one of my favorite holes on the course, despite the fact it requires a right-to-left tee shot and I generally hit a fade. The dogleg left features a lone bunker on the right that will collect any tee shots that cut in that direction. Too far right and balls can catch a downslope that will send them screaming out of bounds. Over-hook one off the tee, and you are likely to find the creek that runs between No. 4 and No. 5. One of the most interesting things about the second shot here is the cross bunker about 40 yards short of the green. Visually, from the fairway it appears to be a greenside bunker, but it’s actually well short of the putting surface. I always appreciate when architects play little mind tricks on the players. It’s a good hole and one that I find to be very architecturally interesting.
No. 6 is another one of my favorite holes on the course. This narrow par-4 has one of the most scenic tee shots on the course. It plays downhill over a meandering white rock-faced creek. The same creek flows down the left side of the fairway, then doubles back right and then left again in front of the elevated green. There is almost no room for error off the tee, as anything left is on the creek, and anything right will be stymied in the trees. It’s a tough customer, but a very pretty hole.
The par-5 seventh is another well-designed hole. Playing a relatively short 512 from the tips, the uphill tee shot does add some yardage. Avoid the multiple fairway bunkers off the tee and there is a legitimate opportunity to get home in two, even though the second shot is over water. Depending on the pin placement, the green can be a tough customer. Anything back left is hard to get to, and front right is relatively accessible.
No. 9 is the second par-3 on the front. This one, like No. 3 is also over water. Although the scorecard says it plays 205 from the black tees, on the few times I have visited the course, I have never seen it play that long. Usually it plays somewhere in the 160-180 range, but getting over the water is obviously paramount here. There is a bunker that protects the green short, so if you don’t get there, it will likely find the sand. Another bunker long and left can gather nuggets that are over the green. It’s a great finish to a fun outward nine.
The 10th hole is another solid ball-striking test. Playing at 380 yards, there isn’t much need to hit driver for the longer hitters, but a solid hybrid or three metal will leave you in good position. The second shot plays over the same creek that is in play back on No. 6.
No. 12 features a large water hazard down the left but does have a relatively generous landing area off the tee. The green is guarded on the left by more water, and a nice waterfall adds some ambiance to the approach and a calming sound as you line up your putt. A birdie here is beneficial, as five of the top nine handicapped holes make up the final six holes on the course.
The final three holes will separate the pack, as it features a couple tough cookies. No. 16 plays 215 yards over water, and this par-3 will test even the best ball-strikers. On this hole, if you don’t hit it solid, you’re likely adding a penalty stroke to the card. A bunker short of the green will swallow balls and can be a tough up-and-down for par. If you happen to catch this hole on a day when it’s playing into the wind, it’s all you want.
No. 17 is the longest par-4 on the course and for that reason is the No. 1 handicap. The same water that was in play on 16 is again in play off the tee on 17. If you get scared of the water on the left and miss right, then you will be looking at a long iron or even a hybrid or three wood into the green. It’s a long hole with no wind, but on days where it’s blowing, it’s as close to a three-shot par-4 as you will find.
No 18 is a fun hole to end on. If you have given back a few strokes on the back nine, you can make one up here with a relatively straightforward final par-5. Water down the left side is in play, but a good tee shot will carry it with no problem. Just avoid the lone fairway trap and you can have a legitimate shot at trying to reach the green. The creek that crosses the fairway isn’t really in play, but a chili-dipper can find it. Navigate by a couple greenside bunkers and you have a real opportunity for a birdie here.
The clubhouse at Watters is nice (although we often joke it looks a little like a community college building) with a good selection of gear. In fact, the day I played they had some of the tough-to-find Jordan brand golf shoes on closeout for a really good price. They have everything else you might need for your round, as well. Gloves, balls, caps, and they also have yardage books available, which is a nice touch even though the carts have GPS.
The Grill 33 is a nice spot to relax with a beverage or burger after the round. The windows to the backside of the grill area overlook the course, so you can watch some groups finish up as you are settling your bets or enjoying your cocktail. If you’re looking for some post-round grub, I would recommend The Eagle sandwich. It’s a delightful combination of thinly sliced steak with grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, American cheese and mayo between sourdough. It’s not often you see a steak sandwich on a menu at the local municipal, so when you do it’s a good idea to take advantage.
Of all the municipal courses in DFW, Watters Creel might be the one that truly has everything. The practice facilities alone are worthy of mention. But when you add in the fun 18-hole Traditions Course, the good food and the top-notch customer service, you have a total package that is worth the trip to Plano.