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Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Bear Creek

6900 Yds, Par 71, Slope 128, by Jack Nicklaus

They Say: "Bear Creek Golf Course is a 36 hole, daily fee course by Nicklaus Design. It consists of The Bear and The Cub courses.
Nicklaus Design created BearCreek in the Heathland tradition. (A Heathland course is an inland links golf course.) The 18 hole, par 71 championship Bear Course measures more than 6800 yards from the championship tees. Nicklaus Design took great care in the creation of the par 59 Cub Course to give it the same feel as The Bear Course."

Mr Science grumbled: "Yeah, I'll rank it a 4 -- a solid 4." And I was hard pressed to disagree: the whole place as the air of failure around it: temporary buildings, semi-finished desert areas (not pristine, nor groomed), the disheartened gloom of the employees, but -- I kept getting review phrases in my head to blog, like "The Best Desert Links course in the Valley -- The Best I've ever played!"

I think Mr Science would agree, that there was nothing actually wrong with the golf course there, it was more the lack of amenities (drinking water on the course, GPS, Hole maps, or accurate sprinkler heads) -- but if one played there a few times, and came to know the course, one might grow to love the course, and at the low-low price they are charging these day, it is hard to beat. I think we might have to double back there again this winter when rates get high.

Mr & Mrs Science had already played the executive course -- and rated it an Executive 3.

One thing about Mr Nicklaus, he's not afraid to move a little dirt, and the course is much more dynamic than the flat terrain surrounding it. I've criticized him -- under my breath -- for not giving enough back to the game of golf in the form of golf courses ordinary people can get to and play, but this one course would be enough to silence that forever. Is it a great course? probably not. Could it be the best course in the Valley (could it achieve a rating of 1 or 2)? Probably not. Is it challenging and fun? Yes! It's just that, in comparison to courses with more "talented" raw land to work with, or more maintenance budget, or fancier amenities, it seems second-rate.

And, of course, like all true links courses, it is doomed to be underestimated by American Golfers conditioned to expect lush, pristine, extravagantly contoured courses. When we got a little bit of wind, the course really bared its fangs.

There was nothing wrong with the course on the course: the fairways were in good condition and well-mowed; the traps were gorgeously shaped, strategically placed, and full of good sand; the water hazards sizable with clean water in them, even if they did have that Arizona Bathtub look to them; the greens had good grass on them and were subtly contoured in the linksy way (not always sloping back-to-front), almost Panksian in their subtle difficulty.

As to the way we played: I'm still not driving well, but my iron play was good enough that I had my share of missed-birdie-putts . . . whether it was the wind, or mismarked distances, or just one of those days, I was long, over the green on at least half the holes, including 3 par 3s. I had a 47-45=92. Mr Science, grumbling all day long, had a 42-41=83, including a near-eagle on #18 when he hit a 3 wood to kick-in distance from 210 yds - - that hole isn't that long, but it was against the wind, kinduva dogleg, some sort of trouble over on the right inside of the dogleg from bend to the green, and an uphill slope in the landing area to kill the roll. I'd hit one of my few good drives there, but I still had 190 left to the hole . . . even then my 7wood went over the green (like I said), but since I had so much practice on 45 foot come-backers, I almost holed it.

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