ScoreGolf’s 2014 Top 100 Courses in Canada was released this week and I was happy to see Black Bear Ridge make the list as I had planned to play 36 at the course only a few days later for a Slammer Tour event.
It was an early morning as Belleville is a good 2.5 – 3 hours west of Ottawa down the 401. We pulled into the parking lot around 7:30am and were greeted by the staff at our car ready for us with a cart and range balls.
The one thing I don’t have at my home club is a range, so I always make a note to use the range when I go to courses that do have them. The practice facility at Black Bear is impressive. In addition to the expected putting green, they have a second putting green, a range that features tee decks on both ends (I assume they only open one deck at a time), and an extensive short game area with multiple greens, fairway, rough and bunkers.
After warming up we hit the first tee, and began our tour around a remarkable golf course.
The course is tough, but fair. A lot of intimidating tee shots, like the par 4 second. The 2nd is a short par 4 dog leg left. You don need to hit driver off the tee, but need to get it out there enough to see around the corner. From the tee you don’t have much of an opening with trees down the left and right hand side, and bunkers at the far corner to catch any tee shots played too far right. There are also a good number of risk reward holes, the most blatant being the par 4th 8th, a short par 4 that wraps around a swampy water hazard. If you can carry the ball 240 in the air, hitting over the hard to the green is an option, but miss short and your in the hazard, miss long or right and your in the long grass.
One of the good things about the course is that they have cleared the underbrush out of forested areas so it is nearly impossible to loose a ball. I don’t think anyone in my group for either 18 lost a ball all day in the woods.
The fairways were pristine, like most high end courses it was like hitting off carpet. The course was well watered, but not overly so, so the fairways were neither too firm, nor sopping wet. The sand was a little thicker than I am used to, not sure if it was the sand itself or the fact it was damp.
The greens are medium to large, with lots of undulation, and roll pretty darn quick. I don’t recall having to many straight putts, but I do recall having lots of 5 footers that broke 6 inches or more one way or the other. Being on the right side of the hole is key to scoring well at Black Bear.
My first 18, I gotten eaten alive, mainly by the front half of the back 9. I came off 9 feeling pretty good, 4 over on a course I had never played. A couple of small mistakes cost me, but no major damage done. I proceeded to take a triple on 10, a double on 11, a double on 12, bogeys on 13, 14 15, before pars on 16 and 17 and then I missed a 5 footer on 18 for par, giving me an 87. It matched my worst round of the season.
Doing my best to forget the round I just finished we grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed back out for more punishment. My second 18 was death by a thousand cuts, a missed par putt here, a missed birdie putt there, etc. I hit the ball much better than I did in the morning, but putted much worse. I finished with an 83, disappointing, but certainly better than the morning round.
Next up for me is 2014 Flagstick Open at eQuinelle, followed by the 2014 Ottawa Valley Golf Association City and District Championships. It’s going to be 5 rounds of golf in 6 days, after which I will be ready for a rest.
See you at the turn,