I must admit I wasn’t expecting much from Bear Mountain, the new golf course/resort/housing development outside of Victoria. It is a Steven Nicklaus design, with little input from Jack, and since I find the structure of the Nicklaus firm to be inpenatrable, I figured Bear Mountain would simply be another golf course built on the side of a mountain. I was pleased to find it was more than that.
I’m not going to go into a full review — I’ll do that at a later date — but needless to say the course did have the massive falls and rises one would expect from a course on an extreme piece of property. Buildings have crept close on a few holes now, but with the exception of the first hole, they tend not to hurt playability or detract from the course.
In many ways it reminded me of a less extreme Westwood Plateau, the Hurdzan/Fry design outside Vancouver. There were a number of blind shots — but nothing outrageous — and the Nicklaus flair for greens was there. In fact, it had some of the more extreme greens I’d seen in some time.
The biggest surprise was the 19th hole — which I had thought was a gimmick overlooking Victoria — is actually the most interesting hole on the course. It is hard to imagine it hasn’t been incorporated into the actual design. Overall I thought the design — while not a great golf course, was certainly a fun one. However, having played with a couple of 25+ handicappers, I did notice there were an awful lot of forced carries/lost balls along the way.
Next Stop: Victoria GC, Olympic View