Rated 4 stars by Golf Digest’s "Places to Play" for 2008, Sky Creek Ranch Golf Club is a fun track with a very challenging front nine (particularly the first six holes) and a more relaxing and open back nine. Robert Trent Jones, Sr., designed the course to take advantage of the natural terrain and native vegetation. As such, you'll need to manage Bear Creek which meanders through fairways and comes into play on nine of the holes plus some lakes that are waiting for stray balls on another five holes. Sky Creek is visually appealing with massive oak trees, sand bunkers, lush vegetation, lakes, and some large homes set well back off the fairways.
The front nine and specifically the first six holes are fun, but very challenging. Elevated tee boxes and greens, creeks and lakes, a few bunkers, dog legs, forced carries, narrow landing zones, and tight approaches require your "A" game and excellent club selection on this nine. The tree lined fairways are a tad tight all the way to the green, plus they are rolling, contoured, and lined with berms. A number of the fairways are elevated and have ridges that if you hit them will send your ball flying toward the trees. And most of the greens are elevated and turtle top. They held well, but if you miss them you've got a problem. This is a scenic, challenging, and fun nine that you'll want to come back again to try and master.
Survive the front nine and you can take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy the scenery on the back. It's much more open and forgiving off the tee box but does have 4 strategically placed fairway bunkers, water on seven holes, rolling and berm lined fairways, and some forced carries to keep you on your "A". Most of the greens are also elevated and about as challenging to hit and hold as the front nine.
The par 3's require target golf and there are some fun holes like: #7 a 556 yard par 5 requiring an accurate drive to avoid the massive oak tree blocking the fairway on the right and the ridge on the left that will bounce you into the trees and then you face a risk reward shot across the lake to an oblong green for a potential eagle or the safer route which also has a tough approach to the elevated green thanks to the water and two large bunkers; and #18 a 525 yard par 5 with a wide forgiving fairway (spay it left and you're wet) and a forced carry over the creek to a green tucked back on the left side.
When we played in June, the average sized bent grass greens were in near perfect condition, very true, and rolling about average (a 9 on the Stimp Meter). The greens had minor slope and some had minor ridges and undulation. We didn't find them difficult to putt, but very difficult to hit!
The fairways were in very good condition, a little dry thanks to very little rain and the hot Texas summers - which means you'll get lots of fairway roll that you need to manage. The rough varied from thin and playable to a little thick and challenging. The course is well manicured.
There aren't a lot of bunkers, we counted 25, and 5 of those are large and strategically placed on the left side of the fairway. Most are a little deep and high lipped (up against the lip presents a real problem) with soft fluffy sand.
Bottom line - great layout with very good conditions that offers a fun and challenging round of golf.
Rates: $50.00 to $99.00
The pro shop has all of the basics, the range and practice facilities are very good, and the Sky Creek Grill serves some very tasty food. Service is prompt and very friendly. Pace of play was excellent when we played on a Sunday afternoon.
Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating
The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this: links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses!
All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course. In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40. We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.