I would like to start off my review with a brief lesson on the last 25 years of golf. During golf’s explosive growth during the 80’s and 90’s approximately 4000 golf courses were opened in the United States. From this golfer’s perspective it seemed the most common theme was to build them bigger,
better, more expensive, and harder! The reason I give you this history lesson is that Bear Creek, very deliberately, did not follow that model.
I was fortunate enough to be joined for the final portion of my round by one of the owners and we talked at length about the philosophy they adhered to during the construction of Bear Creek. He told me they wanted to build a place that everyone could enjoy on many levels…They wanted it to be affordable, challenging but not hard and player friendly for all abilities. From our experience, check, check…and check.
Bear Creek is actually a 36-hole facility. They have an 18-hole championship course that plays to 6,825 yards from the back tees and 4,990 from all the way up. The course has very little forced carry so it is truly a player friendly layout, but don’t be fooled because there is plenty of trouble out there as well in the form of lakes, bunkers and some severe slopes around the greens. It has many qualities of a links style course. The shape of the fairways, approaches, and greens offer golfers the opportunity to play run-up approach shots. Having said that, the greens were plenty receptive to shots at the pin, but don’t get on the wrong side. This is where the course can “Bear” its teeth. I found myself on the wrong side on a couple of occasions and with the greens rolling close to 10, I paid the price.
The course has a nice mix of par 4’s ranging in length from 460 yards to the drivable (for some) 16th at 299 yards. I couldn’t reach it…but I did make birdie! There are five par 3’s on this par 71 layout and they also are a nice mix. The par 5’s are a big part of what makes this course so fun. They are all reachable for longer hitters, but if you miss you can certainly find some trouble. The 18th is a perfect example of this. The finishing hole is a 558 yard par 5 with a very narrow opening between the right front bunker and the lake to the left. If you can run one up through the gap you will be rewarded with a nice look, but with the approach sloping towards the water, running it up is risky.
The second 18 is called the Cub Course and it is a par 59 with four par 4’s and thirteen par 3’s. Before you dismiss this little gem for not being a championship course I suggest you give it a try. This short course will hone your iron game for sure. With tiny little greens and wide variety of distances, you will hit nearly every club in your bag, and with rounds that take only two and half hours, this is a great option for before or after work, or introducing our future golfers to the game.
The staff was very friendly and there to meet arriving guests at the bag drop. They have a huge all grass range and nice short game area. The Bear’s Den Grille is a bar and restaurant, but a very comfortable place to grab a bite before or after you play. The Grille also offers a huge covered patio which is a great place to enjoy your post round drink and watch the incoming golfers finish on the 18th of both courses. I think it is safe to say I thoroughly enjoyed my day at Bear Creek and I really like what this place stands for… Fun, affordable golf