6 Helpful / 0 Not
The Bear....is a Bear
Pros: The Bear Course at High Bridge may simply be the hardest course in the world when the back 11 holes open up in a few weeks. John Jokinen - the owner/manager/caretaker of High Bridge - has the baskets in hand for the Bear course, the fairways all cut, holes in the ground for the baskets....suffice it to say the course is nearly ready to be playable. John gave me a personal tour of the back 11 holes of The Bear, and the course will simply be an amazing challenge. John calls it the 747 course - 7 wooded holes, 4 open holes, and 7 wooded holes. While John does have the baskets in hand, the back 11 holes do need to be seeded and laid with hay, and this will be done over the next two weeks. After this is done, the course will be fully playable, albeit on hay as the grass comes in. The Bear is truly a "bear" to play, and I happened to see a harmless black bear while walking the course! (with pictures to prove it) The Bear is an extremely tight course that will play between 8,000 and 9,000 feet, depending on the final locations of some of the baskets. Some of the holes are extremely frustrating - while the Gold course features length, it is mostly open. The Bear course is unlike the other courses in that it features length and tight fairways. The course truly requires you to have reserve - you can't simply grip and rip the holes like you can at Gold. You need to be more concerned with placement. Of the current Bear holes that are playable, the second hole is perhaps the best hole on the entire property (will become the new third hole on the full course, as a short wooded hole will be between 1 and 3), as it offers three distinct and separate fairways. The third and fourth holes are brutal wooded holes (somewhat fair), while 5 and 6 offer a nice little respite from the distance. Hole 7 is another long par 4 through the woods (though a little more open). The back 11 holes will offer some amazing views and true challenges. I am giving the course a 4.5 rating without having played these holes, but having walked them and heard from John himself about the holes, I am confident in my rating and would consider upping the rating to a 5 after I got the chance to play them. However, John had already cleared the holes and created the fairways. This course is close to being done. The 4 open holes are going to offer some awesome risk/reward shots around and over ponds with fairways traversing the sides of hills and curling around protective trees. The back 7 holes will be similar to the front 7, with tight fairways and some distance holes. However, the fairways won't be unfair - it will simply be a true challenge. Hole 18 on The Bear may be the second par 6 at High Bridge, depending on the final location of the pin. As I walked down the fairway and after looking at course maps from John, the final distance looked to be between 900 and 1100 feet, carving through the woods and uphill with a gentle left curve. While this will be a wooded hole, it did look fair (as fair as a 1000 foot hole through the woods can be). The Bear, when completed in a few weeks, will truly be an amazing treat at High Bridge. John is going to send me pictures in a few weeks with the back eleven holes, but in the meantime I may post some construction pictures (and the picture of the bear I saw on the course!)
Cons: To put it bluntly, this course is not going to be a ton of fun. This course will be the most challenging course at High Bridge and may be one of the most challenging courses in the world. The Bear will require disciplined drives and will force you to play conservatively by not trying to throw 400 feet on a 650 foot wooded hole. In addition, the rough is and probably will continue to be very rough. Also, The Bear probably won't get as much play as the other courses (and therefore as much maintenance attention), and so the course may take a few more years to be fully beaten in. The rough will be rough, and the fairways may be a bit rough as well. The course will frustrate and challenge you, but it will also make you think. I have never played a course where it took me five minutes to decide what to do on the tee.....hole 2 did that to me.
Other Thoughts: My rating is dependent on the course having the last 11 holes playable in the next few weeks. The beautiful thing about High Bridge is the variation that is offered by all of the courses - Woodland is a short and technical course, Granite is a long and mostly open course, Blueberry is the fun course that combines a little bit of everything, Gold is the long and challenging course with some wooded and some open holes, and the Bear is the beast that is carved mostly out of the woods. While some people would bash the wildlife at High Bridge, I thought it was awesome that I saw a Bear near the Bear course (it was actually walking right up the fairway of number 10 on the new Whitetail course). High Bridge is a must! Bring your bug spray and be prepared to be physically exhausted.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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