by John Kim
Having opened to high expectations in June of 2000, Bear Creek has been one of the most controversial and talked about courses I know of. Tough to get to and tough to get around, this course was offers some of the best and worst of golf in the city.
Setting up your round: This course is not open on Mondays. Also, it has yet to catch the "buzz" of Atlanta's golfing community thus,on this Tuesday, the two of us never ran into another group, either in front of us or anyone catching up from behind. In fact, I saw very few other golfers on the course. Weekends tend to be busier (of course), but the fact remains, getting the tee time you want - particularly during the work week - should not be too much of a problem. One other note, bring alot - and I do mean alot - of ammo. You go through golf balls quickly here. Call the pro shop at (770) 949 4653 to set up your round.
When you arrive: The course has all the amenities you'd expect. A driving range, putting green, full servce pro shop, and snack bar. One word of caution though, the course is an alcohol-free facility, so you won't be able to buy your buds a Bud in the clubhouse after the round.
Favorite hole: There are several holes out here that could fit this bill, including the drivable par 4 (#8) and the easy to reach in two par 5 (#17). But my favorite hole, due to just sheer majestic beauty, is the easiest hole on the course (according to the handicaps), the par 3 #3. The hole is only 133 yards from the gold tees but with a straight drop of over 60 feet, and trouble on all sides of the green (except short), this hole will get your attention in a hurry. Honorable mention also has to go to #12, another beautiful par 3 over water.
Least favorite: Unfortunately, there are a few candidates for this one also. #2 and #13 will stick in the minds of many as being somewhere between weird and unfair. Natural wetlands have created a quandry for the designer so that on both holes, a mid iron is the most that the majority of players will be able to tee off with. You will then have a longer second shot which actually needs to be longer than your tee shot is. Still, the par 5 #15 stands out as an extremely penal and difficult hole. Your lay up area after a pretty tough tee shot is effectively the size of a dollar bill. I wish I could tell you a good way to play the hole, but I made an 8, so my advice isn't much good.
Overall: Love it or hate it (and I've talked with several players who do either), Bear Creek will stick out in your mind. There is no question that the conditions and the aesthetics are top tier. Most of the holes are demanding, but fair. Still, three or four holes are exceptionally challenging and probably not a viable par opportunity for the vast majority of players. Unfortunately, those are the holes that will stick out in the mind of many; I shot an 81 on the day, and it was as good as I can play. My playing partner, a 6 handicap player, shot a 96. And he didn't hit the ball that poorly. It's just one of those courses that demands your absolute best, and punishes harshly when you don't bring it. If you aren't a single digit handicap golfer, I can't see you really enjoying this one.