Grand Traverse Resort & Spa - The Bear Course
|White (W)||72||6122 yards||77.8||150|
|White/Yellow (W)||72||5688 yards||74.9||145|
|Yellow (W)||72||5281 yards||73.1||139|
|Black M: 76.1/150||393||451||528||194||413||532||423||386||181||3501||505||421||413||167||390||543||451||220||467||3577||7078|
|Blue M: 73.3/147||364||407||528||151||376||532||364||386||168||3276||505||364||367||150||390||543||391||188||427||3325||6601|
|Blue/White M: 72.0/144||364||390||472||151||376||471||364||386||168||3142||505||364||355||150||347||543||367||188||386||3205||6347|
|White M: 71.1/139 W: 77.8/150||340||390||472||135||376||471||364||351||142||3041||446||364||355||134||347||494||367||188||386||3081||6122|
|White/Red M: 69.2/134 W: 74.9/145||340||346||472||135||336||435||364||351||117||2896||446||304||301||134||347||427||324||155||354||2792||5688|
|Red M: 67.0/128 W: 73.1/139||301||346||425||98||336||435||328||271||117||2657||375||304||301||93||291||427||324||155||354||2624||5281|
Stupidly difficult and penal course, and the five hour round did not help matters. It has some really good holes, but nothing terribly scenic or memorable. It was in good shape, but the greens were slow. If you want a golf course to just brutalize you, have at it.
We purchased the 36 hole package, intending to play the Bear in the AM and Spruce Run in the PM. Due to a large outing on the Bear, our round took 5 hours and 20 minutes to complete. Exasperating. Due to this duration, we had zero time to stop for lunch before our Spruce Run tee time (which we pushed back 30 minutes after the front nine on the Bear), only to find the same slow conditions on Spruce due to another outing. We quit on the second hole after waiting on the tee for fifteen minutes with no pace improvement in sight. Resort golfing at its worst. Not likely to return in the future.
Played this as our opening round of a 16-man, 5-round weekend and I must say it was tough. The name "The Bear," though signifies distance, and this course was not overly long (we played at the 6500 tees, the tips were roughly 7000), maybe a name along the lines of Loki would have been more appropriate as the Bear was the trickiest course we've seen. The fairways are not too difficult to stripe one down to good position, but the greens are like a medieval fortress daring you enter and then ambushing you with hidden traps, false fronts and sand-traps that seemingly eat-up every shot that isn't perfect. The facilities are some of the nicest out there (aside from a metropolis-looking hotel that does not fit with the scenery) and the staff was fantastic. If you normally shoot in the 90s, your mental health may be better served playing The Bear's little brother in the Wolverine. Players in the 70s-80s should expect to hit outside of their handicap, but it is definitely worth the challenge.
Beautiful and long course
The Bear will challenge you in many ways, but the conditioning and views will make your experience here wonderful. It's a tough test, playing much longer than average courses, but if you're able to hit your long irons and avoid the pot bunkers, this course gets a little easier. The greens are always in fantastic shape and will roll true. There are a lot of protected greens and forced carries, penalizing inaccurate players. I've never paid full price to play The Bear (I've always found deals) and I'm not sure that I would. It's a fantastic course, but there are courses I could have much more fun at for less than this rate. I would definitely recommend everyone play this course at least once. It's fun to work your way through this puzzle Jack Nicklaus has laid out in this beautiful city.
Tough course with lots of variety
After playing The Wolverine Course here at the Grand Traverse Resort, I was surprised at how much more difficult The Bear course played from its neighbor - even from the forward tees! Every hole seemed quite different from the last with different challenges to boot but even struggling through hot temperatures , the variety of hole layouts kept it fun. The first hole on The Bear is the only somewhat easy par, but only if you can avoid the moguls. After that, pars are much trickier to come by thanks to multi-tiered greens, deep, difficult bunkers and lots of thick waste areas and water, The forced carries and /or water hazards are visually intimidating on most holes but particularly on 14 and 18. This beautiful finishing hole plays downhill back to the clubhouse with another carry over water to a large green.
Must play in Traverse City
The staff was extremely friendly and helpful with booking the tee time over the phone, checking in, preparing the cart, and getting me started.
I golfed as a single with a tee time around 4 in the afternoon. I checked in early (over 1 hour early) and was informed by the starter that the course was wide open and I could head out as soon as I wanted. The starter was very helpful and knowledgeable. I told him what my handicap was and asked him which tees he would recommend I play from (14 handicap and he recommended the white tees). He also recommended having some type of range finder or gps device in order to play The Bear. He was 100% correct about that.
The course is as difficult as advertised. Look up reviews all over the Internet and they all say it is one of, if not the hardest golf course in all of Michigan. Every hole on this course has lots of danger whether it is water, waste areas, or huge, deep bunkers. Thankfully I had my rangefinder with me so that I could figure out distances to bunkers, water, etc. if you don't have a rangefinder, download a gps app before playing this course. You WILL need to use it in order to save yourself lots of lost balls and penalty strokes.
The course itself was in great shape. Each hole has character and no two holes are the same. Almost every hole has some type of forced carry whether it is off the tee or into the green. The greens were the best I have played on all year. They are fast and each green has tons of character with multiple tiers. If you land on the right tier, plenty of 1 putts are there for the taking. Likewise, if you are on the wrong tier, expect a lot of 3 putts.
If you want to play a course that has wide fairways and you can hit your driver off of every tee, go somewhere else. I probably hit my 3 hybrid off of the tee more than anything else in my bag. I spoke to the starter again after my round and he called it a thinking man's course. If you want a course just to hit driver off of every hole, he recommended The Wolverine, calling it a "true resort style course."
I will definitely play this course again when I come back to Traverse City. I got in my round in about 3 hours. The rates drop and are reasonable around 3:30 in the afternoon. Based on the other courses I have played in the Traverse City area, this was in the best shape by far.
Friendly tip/heads up: It was very windy and got more and more windy as the day went on. The starter advised it is always relatively calm in the morning but the wind will start whipping off of the lake in the afternoon.
It's right up there...
... with the best courses I've played in Michigan. We played on a drizzly day so the course was wide open and we got round in 3.5 hours. Greens are excellent and you will do well to average 2-putts or better. Fairways extremely generous and rough not so difficult as long as you stay out of the thick stuff. It's not as difficult as its reputation (the Bear didn't bite me) and it makes for a very enjoyable round.
Golden Bear Does it Again
Jack Nicklaus does it again. he never stops amazing people with his golf talent, now this time in golf course architecture. The design is perfect. Many of these up north courses have some filler holes here and there to get you to their sigature hole. This one however, has none. EVERY hole is a picture hole.