A course that lives up to it's name
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: Beauty - This course is one of the most scenic courses on the property, if not the most. Playing along steep ridges on the northeastern side of the property, you will get probably the best views that all of Highbridge has to offer. At one point, you can get a great overlook of Granite's holes 7-11, and it's gorgeous, as well as stunning northern views spanning miles and miles
Isolation - there is nothing like playing disc out in these woods. I'm not quite sure what it is about Bear that the other courses don't have, but it was eerie. This course stretches so far out into the depths of the woods and the sides of what feel like mountains, and leaves you with a sensation that is fantasy-like. Once I finished with the course, it felt like I just exited Narnia or something.
Challenge - this course is the hardest course I have ever played, hands down. The plethora of par fours and fives are definitely true to their numbers. The majority of holes are multi shot, where your first drive is critical in whether you will get to the pin to even have a chance at a par. 99% of the time, if you miss or kick into the trees, it's bogey at best for you. Fairways are very narrow most of the time, and even the wider ones have trees scattered about to make you be precise.
Elevation - there many intense elevation changes here, and they're gorgeous and add some great character to the course. From the long, steep rolling fairways (no. 4), to playing straight, then steep down, then up again (no. 11), and across valleys (no. 12), there's plenty of awesome ups and downs
Signature holes - three holes really pop out in my head as signatures for this course. Number three would be my favorite. While most holes on the complex all together offer one or two routes, this one offers about four. You can go (right hand throws) big hyzer, straighter hyzer, straighter anhyzer, or flick/big anhyzer. I love the options you have on this one. It took me about two minutes to decide what the heck I was gonna throw on this. Number 11 is another I really like. You start off with a relatively flat first shot, then you have to navigate a steep valley, and go back up to the pin. 12 also offers a steep valley, but instead of going down then up, your objective is to go straight over it, and the pin is atop the hill across on the other side. This hole is also one of the shorter ones compared to the rest, a little over 300 feet.
Variety - there are a couple ace runs and mid 300 foot shots thrown in the course to break up the huge holes, as well as all kinds of different direction changes and shaped fairways
Cons: Baskets - this is my no. 1 con of all for the whole thing. With the switching of Bear's and Woodland's baskets this year (a decision I still support nonetheless), Bear now has a bunch of those awful green baskets. They're ugly, and suck at catching. Just being honest. There is also at the time of this review, three different basket types on this course. The first 6 are the green ones, then 7 and 8 are black (hard to spot) DGA's, then 9 is a green one again, then the rest are Lightning DB 5's. Talk about confusing - I may be nitpicky with this cause I'm all OCD like but man that bothered me. If this basket situation can be resolved, I'll come back and add another half disc to this rating
Monotony - while I did state there IS variety with a couple short holes thrown in, I do think things could've been done to make some of the multi shot holes less repetitive. Like said in previous reviews, it started to get stale after having so many holes where you shoot to a dogleg left or right, then shoot to another, then another, then the pin. I wish a few of the par four/fives would've been a little bit more open with a few more options. Also, while holes 8 and 9, which are both aceable, provide a nice break from the long grinders, it would've been nice for them to be spread out a bit more, instead of two right in a row.
Signage - Almost all if not all tees had no signage left at all - but of course I am working to fix this issue in the near future
THICK ROUGH - some of the holes would seem almost hopeless to search for discs in if you shanked one. This course has the thickest and worst rough of any at the hill.
Very physically demanding - this course took me about 2 and a half hours to complete, and there was LOTS of strenuous hiking with all the elevation changes. Not necessarily a bad thing per say, but it's something to keep in mind if you're not up for a long, workout type round.
Other Thoughts: I was very interested to see how this course would be after reading other reviews and descriptions, and man it holds up. Even though this course throttled me, I still loved it - even with all the pros I've listed, there's just something very difficult to put your finger on, that's just mystical.
I'm happy I decided to give it a go before winter, and I'll surely be playing it again in the future. Just when you think HBH can't get better, then you find the Bear, lurking in the deep woods, ready to show you you're not as good at dg as you think, but to also teach you that it's still awesome regardless.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Bear is as tough as it gets
4 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: This course is a much welcome and needed addition to the property. While I still think Gold is my favorite course, this one has the potential to be the best course. The shot variety, both lateral and vertical accuracy needed and distance control make this a true test of your disc golf skill. Many holes will have you feeling grateful for a 4, and if you have an errant shot many times even a 4 would be impossible.
I thought this course was superb for top level amateurs and pros alike.
Cons: I would guess this course is probably not much fun for beginners. So if you're newer to the sport and are easily discouraged by a high score this would be a poor course choice. The lack of tee signs and sub optimal mowing (of lack of mowing) really took away from my experience on bear. I don't blame John for not being able to maintain this course at the level of gold/granite/blueberry, but to have a course with this much challenge and potential virtually un-mowed is really disappointing.
If you were to play this blind your first time in its current state know that you will be in for a long grueling and potentially frustrating round wondering where to throw to.
Other Thoughts: If this course has high quality tee signs, was kept up as good as gold, and had distance indicators or landmarks marked with distances on the tee signs it would be a shoe in 5 rating.
Having played the courses at Selah ranch, Justin Trails, Mont du lac, Giants Ridge, Rollin Ridge, BRP, Milo McIver, Horning's Hideout, Hidden Lake, I would say this is the hardest of them all without question to score well on.
I shot 11 strokes better on Gold than on Bear, and that felt like it would not be uncommon if I was able to play here more often.
If you are a competitive disc golfer I would prioritize this course above all else in organizing my days. While every course on this property has merit, Bear is hands down the most interesting and challenging on site. Gold has glimpses of great holes like Bear, but bear is the real deal.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
17 Helpful / 0 Not
Dogleg Left...then right...then left again...
Pros: Among the most beautiful courses I've played, The Bear is played through long, winding wooded fairways and along the east-facing point of the mountain that houses all of the main Highbridge courses. And as with all of the other courses on this complex, the combination of natural beauty and eerie solitude contribute to the course in a very special way.
This is the consummate thinking-man's course. Even the most powerful players will be forced to lay up and play strategically; and even intermediate players will be tempted to gamble with a distance driver. Scoring well here requires a gambit of shots (including rescue shots.)
Cons: After being absolutely awed by the front 9 of this course, I found myself swearing under my breath on much of the back 9. The satisfication of teeing off with a midrange on a 700'+ hole to lay up to a tight landing area becomes monotonous after a while.
Even some of the holes in the 300-500' range, which should be par 3s, could be played as par 4s due to the incessant winding/turning of the fairways. It felt like I spent most of the round laying up, only to turn the corner and find that I had 2 doglegs left before I could get a shot at the pin.
As I recall, there was only 1 or 2 holes that were possible birdies for a player with <500' of accurate power.
The rough is punishing, no doubt, but so is the fairway in some areas. Lacing a shot up the middle and still having to root around in tall grass is frustrating - though I don't fault John for not having every inch of the fairways mowed, as it would be a full-time job considering the shear size of the complex.
Other Thoughts: Bring a great pair of shoes, a lot of water, and try to keep your groups down to minimum size. Playing with 6 people, it took us over 5 hours to complete our round. And most of us were out of water/gatorade after the 3 hour mark.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful.
1 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: This course is both challenging and fun. It really challenges your accuracy with tight fairways and tons of trees. There are multiple lines to the baskets so I will be playing again to really get a good feel for the course.
Cons: As of today, the course is still incomplete. When it is complete it will be amazing. The entire course was really wet and a little tough to navigate. Also bugs were overwhelming today.
Other Thoughts: Its really a beautiful course but needs to be completed. Bring bug spray. Stay at the honka house!
1 of 6 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: When I played on 3/9/11, only the first seven baskets were in the ground and the others were just laying about 60 feet behind the 7th basket.
This course is very challenging. John, the owner of HHSC, promised that the last 11 holes will be just like the first 7, so I'm convinced that Bear will be a tremendous course when it's finished that definitely has the potential to be considered one of the hardest courses in the world.
It's a tightly wooded course with the longest of the 7 holes at 735 feet. This course definitely fills the niche of the "long/wooded" course that the HHSC was lacking before it was installed.
The bright orange baskets are very easy to spot from a distance and are unlike any basket I've ever seen. They're really cool.
Cons: We played here when there was still snow on the ground and the temperature was pretty low, but I'd imagine that bugs will be pretty annoying here.
Also, the Highbridge Hills Sports Complex in general is pretty far away from any stores. So make sure you stock up on food and water and that sort of thing. The closest grocery store is around 20 miles away.
Another con is that it gets dark in Highbridge...I really wish it would be light out all day long so you could play these courses all day! But seriously, make sure you plan at least two full days to play all the courses at Highbridge. They're all wonderful and totally worth playing.
Other Thoughts: All of the courses at HHSC are beyond awesome. The owner, John Jokinen, is a really, really nice guy and will go out of his way to make sure that you have a good time during your stay at the disc golf mecca. It's definitely worth a trip here, no matter where you are!
Feel free to message me if you have any questions about the Bear or any course at Highbridge or Highbridge in general and I'll be happy to try to answer them. :)
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: When I played here on 7/7/10, it was only 7 holes and I understand the rest will be installed soon. I know this might sound ridiculous, but based on the 7 holes I played I feel semi-comfortable rating this course as a 4 and here's why.
These are some of the toughest and most challenging holes I've played. They have long, winding, tree-lined fairways just daring you to go for it so the strokes can pile up when you realize you aren't as accurate as you think you are. These par 4 holes and the one par 5 are the kind of holes you feel great about getting par on and getting a birdie probably feels incredible. But I wouldn't know because I was no where near a birdie on any of the par 4+ holes.
Cons: Only 7 holes.
A little rough around the edges compared to the other courses here, but that's hardly a con.
Other Thoughts: John claims the rest of the course, when complete, will be just like the first 7 holes. If that's true, this will be more difficult than any course that currently exists at Highbridge. When complete this course has the potential to be 4.5-5.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 1 Not
Not finished, but it should be great
Pros: The course is not finished, a little less than half of it is in, but it is already a challenging and unique addition to the Highbridge complex. It is long and tightly wooded, with hilly fairways cut through thick brushy woods. There is awesome risk-reward on this course, with fair lanes but harsh punishment that makes you really think about how far you think you can get down the wooded tunnel without going off into the rough. If you do miss the fairway, it will almost certainly cost you at least a stroke.
Many of the holes have multiple lines carved through the woods that each offer their own challenges and different levels of risk and reward. This is a fantastic design feature you don't see too often, and makes it so you want to throw multiple drives to try out each of the possible shots. The elevation and trees are used well to create a good amount of variety so none of the holes that are currently in feel at all the same.
There are the standard Highbridge concrete tees on this course, and the usual basic hole signs with hole number, basic hole map, and distance. The orange baskets are pretty new and catch great.
Cons: The course isn't finished, and that's the biggest thing holding my rating down. A finished course with the same level of challenge and variety could easily be a 4+ course, I can't wait until it's finished and I can get back up here. As it is, you only get to play 7 holes then you're routed with a long walk onto the last 11 holes of Woodland which takes away from the flow of the round a little. There are stumps and brush still in many of the fairways, adding to the unfinished feeling of the course.
Other Thoughts: This is going to be an awesome course when it's finished, and already adds a unique flavor to the overall Highbridge experience. Right now it's definitely worth playing while you're at Highbridge, and my rating will certainly go way up when the rest of the course is done assuming the final 18 holes have the same challenge and variety of the current 7 holes. Beginners will hate this course, with long tough shots and unforgiving rough. Experienced players will be faced with a lot of thinking and some tough shots, and will definitely be tested here.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
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.
13 Helpful / 0 Not
7 Holes of Pure Awesome
Pros: Unfortunately, this course is still a work in progress, but what holes are done are amazing!! if the last 11 are like the front 7 I played, this could become my favorite course at highbridge.
However, in the meantime, i must mark this down for only being 7 holes of an amazing course. I base my opinions on what holes there are already, which are quite good, and presume with my comments that the rest are of the same mold.
Like all highbridge courses, the bear has great baskets, teepads and signs, each with a clever bear-themed hole name.
The bear is as described: long and wooded. As I stated to my companion, if woodland greens and Gold had a kid, it would be the Bear. Like woodlands, but with length, and much more complexity, this course delivers legit par 4 and 5 tight wooded shots, up to usual highbridge standards.
What the bear does better than any of its brothers, is provide risk reward. On many holes, the fairway is split into several distinct tunnels through the woods, which i think is wonderful and adds tremendously to the replay value of the hole. As usual, baskets are well protected by trees, adding some zest to normally easy putts and making you think before you can just park it.
Like the other highbridge courses, the pars are attainable, but not easy, especially on the longer, par 4s and 5s, since you have to bomb it through tree-covered fairways, instead of the open fields of Gold or Granite.
These 7 hole made me think almost as much as any of hte other courses at highbridge, which I really like, and gets me excited for when this masterpiece is completed.
Cons: ONLY 7 HOLES DONE. Right now, you play the first 7 of the bear, then hop over to the last 11 of woodland greens, which i also love, so I was happy, but still, i was expecting the whole thing, and was a bit dissapointed that it wasnt ready to go.
AS can be expecting with a course in development, this course feels unfinished, with many stumps still to be ground up, and brush to be hauled, a symptom shared by other newish courses like Brown Deer and some of the Lemon Lake courses.
However, these are minor details as the first 7 holes are very playable and ready to go, if a little rough around the edges
Other Thoughts: Each of the courses at Highbridge is a different flavor of great course, which one you prefer will depend on what types of courses you prefer in general: Championship, Open, Hilly, wooded, technical, etc.
As this is tightly wooded like Woodland Greens, perhaps moreso, and certainly longer and more difficult, this will understandably never be everyone's favorite course. Not everyone likes hitting trees as much as I do. But if you cant get enough technical wooded holes, this course will seem sweeter than honey.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: This course is a MONSTER. In my opinion it is the second best at Highbridge (second to the technically phenominal Blueberry course, and a lot better than Gold). The layout and use of tight woods and long fairways is excellent, exactly what I look for in a course. There is a decent amount of elevation and even manmade water hazards. Many holes (if not all) offer various routes to the pin. Extras like elevated tees and elevated pins make it all that much better.
Cons: WTF?! It's not really 18 holes, and never has been! For the last three years 2006-2008 I have been to highbridge eagerly awaiting what the website describes as "navigating the maze of trees on the 888' hole at the Bear". But there are only 8 holes complete and playable. After that, you transition over to and play the last part of the Woodland Greens course. While woodland greens is kinda neat and technical with lot's of trees and character, it is very short. I'm still eagerly awaiting the full layout (have not been here in 2009 yet). The Bear wasn't even playable for the 2007 Worlds!
Most of the course (on the entire property) was made by plowing through the woods with heavy equipment like dozers. Thus, the terrain is not level and fairly rutted. Tee signs are only okay. For a "Disc Golf Complex (Mecca)" like highbridge, I would expect more!
Other Thoughts: Highbridge is an amazing experience in general. Real rugged disc golf on an amazing piece of property with excellent terrain, great views, scenery galore, peaceful tranquility, and excellently balanced and designed courses with only MINOR flaws and nit-pick personal dislikes. Your total expereince at Highbridge will be memorable if you stay there, make a weekend out of it, and disc ALL DAY for multiple days in a row. Be prepared to put yourself to the test.
Despite having only played the 8 holes of the Bear onm numerous occasions, I love it, and can't wait for it all!
When they finally complete the full 18 hole layout, I WILL be updating my rating to a 4.5 or a 5.
UPDATE: I cannot rate this a 4 any more. It's only 7 holes. Independent of the fact that the course is at a disc golf complex, it is still only 7 holes! While great, they don't deserve a 4. Now a 3.5 to be more in line with relative rating of other courses I have reviewed, and I'll change to a 4.5 or 5 once 18 are installed. And honestly, I am beginning tho think that once The Bear and Whitetail are done, that they may shift my overall course rankingas by so much (i.e an undisputed 5-disc course), that all other reviews will have to drop by comparison.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
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