Fans of Jack Nicklaus will be in for a challenging task should they hope to play every one of the Golden Bear’s architectural adventures; the golf great’s company has been involved with more than 400 designs. Bear’s Best Atlanta is one of several courses around the country that allow players to get a “greatest hits” of sorts, as Nicklaus has chosen a variety of his favorite designs to suit this property northwest of the city.
Among the more popular “origin” courses feeding into Bear’s Best are Nicklaus’s designs at Muirfield Village and Gleneagles, from which the architect chose two holes each. The Memorial Invitational host provides inspiration for two heroic holes: No. 6 here is a par three based on the water carry and thin green at Muirfield Village No. 13, while the forced carry at Bear’s Best No. 13 comes from a similar design at Muirfield No. 3.
The No. 12 hole at Bear’s Best is a par five that plays dramatically uphill, as with the closing hole at Gleneagles. The No. 17 hole is also a tribute to Jack’s Scottish design.
The designer could have counted his brief stint at Augusta National and pulled a few holes from that World Top 100, but tastefully opted not to.
I am not a fan of replica courses. I have played several and while they are fun, they seem very corporate to me. Of course, imitation is the highest form of flattery. The first hole is a long par four and inspired by #10 at St. Mellion in the UK. The 2nd is short par four dogleg left. Good birdie hole, my advice, find the fairway for a flip wedge. Based upon #10 Sherwood CC. The third is a replica of the short par three at Spring Creek Ranch. This one must be tougher because I birdied the original. The 4th is a dogleg right based upon #4 at Old Works in Montana and it even has the black sand bunkers like the original. Good birdie hole. The 5th is a tough golf hole. Based upon the 5th at Golf Club of Purchase, off the tee you have a swamp carry and then another on the approach. Deserving of the number one handicap ranking. The 6th is a tribute to the beautiful par 3 12 at Muirfield Village. The 7th is the longest par five on the course and is based upon #3 at Shoal Creek. Very narrow fairway with bunkers left and one right on the second shot. The green also has deep bunkers right and left. The 8th is an uphill par four that has three small ponds in front of the green. The original hole is #9 at The Club at Nevillewood. The 9th is a par five inspired by #7 at TPC Michigan. Favor the left off the tee to avoid the fairway bunkers right. On the 2nd shot the fairway is hourglassed by bunkers and three bunkers protect the green.
The back starts with a good birdie oppty. Short par four with the fairway running out into a swale with multiple bunkers. The conundrum is hit and hope with driver to give you an attack wedge ort layback with a mid-iron? Based upon #15 at Mt Juliet. The 11th is a Florida par three based upon #15 at Palm Beach Gardens. The 12th is an uphill par five recreating #18 at Gleneagles. The 13th is a tough hole based upon #3 at Muirfield Village. Downhill dogleg left with an approach over a native ravine. The 14th is the last par five and is modelled after #17 at Governor’s Club. Uphill tee shot with OB left and fairway bunker right. The second shot is downhill but there is a cross bunker to discourage heroic attempts. The 15th is rated the easiest hole and is a knockoff of #15 at Sherwood CC. Decent drive leaves you with an attack wedge. The 16th is a fun downhill par three based upon #`5 at Elk River. The 17th is a long par four based upon #3 at Gleneagles. Dogleg right with fairway bunkers on the right to keep people from getting too frisky. The approach is uphill, take an extra club. The 18th is a tough hole. The longest par four and is slightly uphill. Favor the right side off the tee to take the left fairway bunker out of play. Approaches from the left side will have to carry a dozen or so bunkers. I was left and ended the round by going bunker to bunker to bunker, #$%@#.
Good, but I am not a fan of the overall concept.