Designed by owner Brian Magee, Black Bear Ridge opened in 2005, gaining a reputation in subsequent years as one of the best public golf courses in the country. Professional Bill Kerr has been kind enough to summarize some of the challenges on the course with the following contribution:
“Starting with hole number 1 – an elevated tee shot from all of the five tee decks – golfers are faced with a downhill, right doglegged par four; simple yet challenging, it is a great opening hole overlooking the entire front nine.
The first five holes were designed to allow golfers to ease into their game and the first par three at hole number 5 is straightforward, with bunkers guarding the left and right side of a slightly elevated green.
The back nine is where the true challenge of the golf course lies and Black Bear Ridge’s "Amen Corner" – 11 to 13 – are a daunting set of holes. Come away from these holes with pars and you will have surpassed expectation.
Hole 11 is a 692-yard par five that was originally opened as a par six in 2005 and the hole skirts a large wetland area, running a 45-degree angle around the hazard. The hole can be shortened with a few ventures over the marsh but accuracy is essential. The green is small and cigar-shaped with water guarding three sides. A five on this hole is a rarity.
Hole 12 is a slight dogleg 410-yard par four with water down the left side and cedars guarding the right. The advice on the sprinkler heads tells the story: “158 to the centre, 118 to Lay Up.” The 12th green is surrounded by water and is a challenge if your drive is not far enough to attempt the second shot with a short iron. Lay up's are commonplace on this hole.
Hole 13 is a short 162-yard par three. This hole can be played two ways to a green that is surrounded on three sides by water. The first option is to tee off beside the 12th green, 148 yards to carry the water but do not carry too far because there’s water over the back too. The second option is to play the hole as a straight-away (water left, long and right) which allows a short shot to survive but even then, the wind can cause havoc”
Black Bear Ridge is absolutely stunning in the fall, and is an absolute monster from the tips. The back nine makes the most of both massive elevation changes and water, and is one of the most dramatic and imposing tracks in Ontario. Eight through fourteen as good as it gets.