Iconic Golf In A Spectacular Resort Setting
Named in 1988 as one of the best new resort golf courses in America, The Golf Club Fossil Creek continues to re-define the daily fee golf experience in the Southwest thanks to its captivating Arnold Palmer-designed championship golf course, array of world-class amenities, and superlative guest service.
One of the last courses to be personally designed by The King himself, The Golf Club Fossil Creek's spectacular par-72, 6865-yard layout was designed by Palmer to blend seamlessly with its gorgeous natural surroundings on the site of an old quarry. Beautiful limestone cliffs, contoured bluffs and massive trees frame gently rolling Bermuda fairways and manicured greens, with an abundance of rocky-ledged creeks and crystal lakes creating both strategic diversity and a breathtaking backdrop for golf. While challenging for scratch golfers, multiple tees on each hole help golfers of all ages and abilities enjoy one of Texas' most memorable resort golf experiences.
Our 18 Hole Course
The first hole of The Golf Club Fossil Creek sets the stage for an exciting round of 18 scenic and challenging holes of golf. This opening hole lies along a gently sloping hillside. The generous fairway invites length and strength immediately, yet does not penalize the slightly errant shot. The landing area is protected on the left by Valley Lake, which extends toward the green. Placement of the tee shot down the right side of the fairway in the direction of the fairway traps will set up a short-to-medium length approach to the green. A meandering brook, which winds around the left side of the green, adds to the tranquil setting yet, at the same time, serves as a warning to keep the ball to the right.
The first of four par three holes at Fossil Creek is the Mesquite, which forces a distinct strategic decision. Depending on the pin placement, this seemingly timid hole can prove to be much tougher than it appears, particularly when missed to the left. A recovery shot from the left rough to this narrow green is most difficult when the pin is cut left on the upper portion of the tiered green. The proper approach is from the right side- or angled from left to right- contending with the uneven ground at the right front portion of the green. The outcome here will often establish the style of play, whether aggressive or conservative, on the holes that follow.
The par five third is the first of what is generally termed the "heroic" style of golf architecture. This categorization is justified by the type of shot required to reach the green in two following the "Sunday" tee shot. A long and accurate carry over a finger of water to a protected green actually calls for a "hero" and provides possibly the single most exciting situation in golf. Anything short of perfection here results in disaster. The hole is slightly downhill from the tee and assists the golfers in getting maximum distance, the most important element in making a second shot decision. The tee shot landing area slopes gently from right to left. Only the experienced and strong golfer will consider attempting this green in two shots. Player's using three shots to reach the hole go by way of larger, safer landing areas and a dry land approach to the right side of the green. The conservative, thoughtful player may win out over the bold player, but only the bold can become "hero".
At first glance, this short par four may appear to be out of place in Texas. This 350-yard hole resembles a Scottish links golf hole with its isolated target areas, grass bunkers and hollows, and thick and wiry rough defining the treeless borders of the fairway. The premium here is on accuracy. Because it is a relatively short hole, the wise player may choose to sacrifice distance for an accurate shot, selecting a four wood or long iron off the tee. However, the distance given up off the tee will have to be made up; the player must truly consider his second shot on this hole before he plays his first. The very small green will hold only the high-lofted approach, but the green and its pin placement can be seen from the tee, which is valuable information for the thoughtful player.
The 190 yard par three downhill left can be deceptively difficult, which makes club selection all important. The player must be aggressive enough to challenge the sand and swale in front of the green yet be conscious of the hazards that lie beyond. A long shot will catch the down slope behind the green, leading to the creek. The low hot ball, on the other hand, has no place here and will result in a very difficult par. This hole requires a soft, high shot that will come to rest in a relatively short distance.
This very scenic par four hole will certainly be among the favorites at Fossil Creek for it possesses many characteristics that make a memorable golf hole. The elevated tees, strategically staggered left to right offer a dramatic view of the fairway twisting down the hill and into the wooded area along the banks of Fossil Creek. No other hole offers much variation from the multiple tee, which offer diverse means to contend with the gaping sand traps strewn down the right side of the fairway. The golfer who chooses to play safe down the left-side finds himself with a long second shot over Fossil Creek. On the other hand, the bold effort down the right side and over the traps results in a favorable kick toward the green and a much shorter approach. Nestled on a rock ledge across the creek, the green contains many subtle undulations and a challenging assortment of pin placements.
The seventh at Fossil Creek is the longest par four the golfer will face on the front nine and one of the most difficult holes on the entire course. Distance off tee on this hole is a definite advantage. The landing area, cut through a thick stand of oak and pecan trees, is narrow, yet it rewards the long and accurate tee shot by providing a left to right kick in the direction of the green. From there, the second shot must again negotiate Fossil Creek to the rolling, uphill green, requiring an all-carry approach. The tee shot determines the players fate. The decision to attempt the long carry must be weighed against the more conservative approach of laying up short of the mounded green area.
The General cuts through a veritable forest of oak, cedar elm and pecan trees. Therefore, little planting is added with the exception of a few trees to strengthen the backdrop of the green.
Landscaping on the links takes advantage of lower lake valley's existing terrain. New trees form a visual barrier along the right side of the fairway and behind the green. This par five hole 8 is right to left along the western side of a natural valley. The elevation on the left side of the fairway at the landing area creates a "saddle" that will give additional distance to the well-hit and well-placed tee shot. After benefiting from the down-slope of the fairway, the golfer will be tempted to try for the green in two. Because of the greens position at the bottom of the leftward sloping valley, the long hitter will "swing" his second shot to the left, avoiding the small creek in front of the green. The long hourglass green is guarded closely around the front of the creek, then steps up dramatically backward with an elevation change of five feet. The back left area of the green is flanked on both sides by protective traps. Careful planning and a good touch is necessary here to prevent three-putting.
The landscaping on this hole again implements a planting scheme that provides a visual barrier on the right but allows powerful views of the course from adjacent development. No other hole on the course possesses as much variation in difficulty as the par four nine. Relatively unassuming at the tee, this hole becomes a gem as the golfer gets closer to the green. The fairway generally slopes right to left with a small creek running down the left side. The creek is, for the most part, out of play until it carves into the fairway just approaching the landing area. The fairway then becomes a roller-coaster, sweeping hard right and then left toward the lake in front of the green. The side-hill lie is ever present on the second shot which must carry over water to the green. Projecting dramatically into the lake, the green is complicated by a left-hand pin placement and a small trap on the right.
The par three tenth has all the ingredients of a popular and controversial golf hole, with its awesome yet inviting appearance humbling the player at first sight. From its staggered tees top its well trapped green, the tee shot is all carry over golf's most respected hazard. Depending on the wind and the pin placement, this hole can conceivably require any club in the bag. Whichever club is selected, the shot must be executed with precision. The extra effort exerted here to carry such a substantial water hazard often results in a miss hit or pushed shot. The secret to playing this hole is selecting enough club and making a smooth and deliberate swing. This hole represents the ultimate test in concentration and execution.
The landscaping on Northward Bound defines the play of the hole. Visual barriers are created on the right side of the fairway and a heavy backdrop is formed behind the green. Northward Bound presents a dramatic downhill view and is reachable with two excellent shots. The accomplished golfer must place his tee shot long and straight down the fairway, being careful not to allow the ball to drift or kick to the right where it would land in a natural drainage swale. The second shot, from a slightly downhill lie must carry 250 yards over Fossil Creek to the front of a deep and narrow putting service. The reward for such a performance is a putt for the elusive "eagle". An average golfer should play for the wide part of the fairway from the tee. The second shot will be toward the two sand traps guarding the second dogleg and around the mound on the left side. An iron may be selected for the second shot to gain position. The ball should kick left toward Fossil Creek, resulting in a third shot carry of 110 yards over the creek to the elevated green and an opportunity to gain a stroke on par.
The twelfth hole is a dogleg right par four that wraps around Fossil Lake. With its challenging expanse of water, this hole will strike fear in the heart of any golfer who generally hits a slice. The landing area, however, is very generous and easy to reach from the multi-leveled, strategically – positioned tees, the most difficult of which carry a small portion of the lake before reaching the rolling fairway. Just past the dogleg, two large fairway traps steer the player to the right. The green sits atop the rock cliffs of Fossil Lake tempting the golfer to challenge its championship pin placement deep in the far right corner. Sand and strategically – placed mounds protect the green and deter the slightly errant shot.
The short par three thirteenth brings to mind visions of other water-carry holes since no great golf course would be without this kind of challenge. The degree of difficulty here depends entirely on the location of the pin and proper club selection. The right front portion of the green is most accessible, while the left side requires a slight draw to get the ball close. The back right pin placement stretches the green to the limits of a small peninsula leaving little room for error. An inlet of water in front of the green is the nemesis here since most players tend to fall short of pin high when there is water behind the green. Unlike Fossil Lake hole, the Cliffs requires an aggressive approach and will defeat the timid.
The Serpent's rugged fairway dotted with mounds and its angled green bordered by heavy grass traps and large waste bunkers give this hole a sharp, rough appearance. The tee markers, located in a serpentine – shaped area, determine to what degree the large fairway bunkers come into play. Located 180 yards from the back tee, these traps must be carried by any shot left of the center line. The tee shot played down the right contends with several grass bunkers, leaving a longer approach shot that must carry a trap at the green. Heavy grass, mounds and sand must be negotiated on the 135 yard approach shot to a small green. The emphasis here is on accuracy rather than distance. The smart player will keep his tee shot to the right, sacrificing a little distance for the opportunity to play his second shot from a level, grassy lie. Visual screening along both sides of the fairway is provided by the use of angled planting groups that allow strong vistas from the rest of the development onto the golf course.
From the multi-tiered tees, across the twisting fairway and up to its flattened summit, then down and over the rocky creek, past the splashing waterfall and on to the subtly uneven putting surface, the Mesa is a distinctive golfing experience. Another good driving hole, the golfer who can place his tee shot in the center of the elevated "mesa" can breathe a sigh of relief, for the errant tee shot faces an uphill battle even though it's downhill to the green. Smithfield Creek, with its banks of white rock, winds down the right side of the fairway which by sloping left to right, encourages the slice or fade to kick toward the water. Too far to the left, and the shot is at the bottom of a slope hemmed in by large mounds and oak trees with little chance of reaching the green. Traps on the front left and right rear of the green, along with a lake to the right and the creek in front, make the approach shot interesting and challenging.
The trend throughout Fossil Creek has been that, as soon as the golfer breaks out of the trees into a clearing, the fairway leads him back in, always with an interesting and effective transition. Smithfield Creek's irregularly-shaped tees direct the player from a relatively open area over a hill, through a grouping of small oaks, across Smithfield Creek and up onto a 6200 square foot elevated green. Few holes will display the rhythm and movement of this twisting and winding fairway, which is so subtly contoured it appears that only nature could be responsible. Position is the key here and depending on the conditions, the thinking player may have to abandon the driver and select a club that will allow him to achieve position rather than distance. The approach is only 140 yards to a generous green with the only obstacle being a deep trap guarding the left front portion of the green. A relatively simple hole to negotiate, Smithfield Creek serves to relax the golfer for the remaining challenging holes.
Starting with an uphill tee shot, the player immediately feels challenged by this hole, knowing that his best effort is required. The proper placement of this shot is up the right side of the fairway, just flirting with the right-hand unmaintained "waste". From the left side of the fairway, the golfer must carry the long, yawning waste area to a shallow portion of the green. The waste area should be avoided at all costs. Play from this area will require a safe second shot, short and to the right of the depressions in front of the green. The green is well-bunkered and, like the fairway, contains its own subtle undulations, which give way to numerous pin placements. Laced with mounds and hollows, dips and turns, the 17th will be respected as an unforgiving challenge.
The Chute at Fossil Creek maintains the character and beauty previously established on the course. From an elevated tee, the player gets an excellent view of the challenge ahead as the hole drops off sharply to enter an area of dense vegetation along Fossil Creek. The fairway works its way downhill to the landing area where it abruptly ducks left behind a large fairway trap, then continues to roll toward the creek. Large mounds and deep rough areas guard the right border of the fairway beyond the landing area. The ideal tee shot should be placed down the right side of the fairway with a slight draw to the left. The second shot is over Fossil Creek to an elevated area protected by mounds, traps and oak trees. The green itself is also surrounded by large mounds, traps and grass bunkers. Once on the putting surface, the golfer will find that the multi-level green provides a number of challenging pin placements, ranging from easy to most difficult. From tee to green, the Chute is a fitting finale to the Fossil Creek experience.