Saturday, September 13, 2008

Reviewing A Golf Course - Bear Dance Golf Course, Larkspur, CO

I play a lot of golf. I also have a golf blog (welcome!), so I figured it would be beneficial to both you and I to begin reviewing golf courses. We'll talk about the course, the conditions, the price, the beverage cart and if it's worth the visit. If you've played, leave some comments. Here we are, golf course reviewing.

Nothing defines a solid Saturday like dew-busting it in the morning and then coming home to watch some college football.

This morning, at 7:39 AM, my father and I headed to the Golf Club at Bear Dance, home of the PGA Colorado section, and about 45 minutes south of Denver. After hearing a lot of good things about the course just outside of Castle Rock and attempting to play it a few weeks ago before getting rained out, I decided it was the spot I wanted to take my father on his trip to Colorado.

The good news is we weren't disappointed. Bear Dance is a beautiful golf course set up and down through a ton of Ponderosa pine trees and gives you views of Pikes Peak, the Rockies and the Front Range. No matter your ability, there are five different sets of tees, from 7,726 to 5,240. I played all the way back while my dad, a 10-handicap that never plays unless I'm around, set his sights on the tees at 6,879.

The clubhouse is fantastic, the staff seemed friendly and helpful and even the merchandise inside the pro shop wasn't that high (it was chilly and we found a nice golf jacket for under $100). Also, the green fees ($110 on the weekends, $89-95 during the weekdays plus some specials on their website) include range balls, on a decent range even though it faces you DIRECTLY into the sun if you're a morning golfer.

Now, when I say the course is long, I mean it. The front nine starts and ends with a 500+ yard par-4, and has a 636-yard par-5 (that I birdied somehow). One of the only complaints I found on the golf course is the random bunkering that never really comes into play. The best example is the par-4 4th, that has four pot bunkers about 20 yards northwest of the green. I told my dad when observing them, "If you hit it in there, you might as well just drive your cart back to the clubhouse because you probably aren't going to have much fun."

The back nine is where the beauty is really striking. Holes 10-12 give you a great shot of the mountains, while the difference in the par-5 yardages on the 13th and 18th (537 to 655) couldn't be more different. Also, the 17th hole at first glance looks like a throwaway hole (145-yard par-3 that we played at 112 yards) but is one of the harder short par-3s you will ever play. I always say, if you can make a short hole just as difficult as a long one, you've done a great job as a designer.

I would vote the entire experience an A. Even though the greens were nearly unplayable fast in some areas (par-3 12th comes to mind), the course was in good condition and the staff was very helpful. After my dad inquired about hot chocolate on the front nine to the beverage cart, the lady actually went and got some even though she doesn't normally carry it on the cart.

The only other complaint I would have lands with the GPS system, which seemed to have some very off yardages at times (even though I'm not sure you can fault Bear Dance for this). For example, on the par-4 16th it said the water in front of the green was 380+ yards and I nearly got there with my three-wood (and I promise you, I'm not that long).

If you have a chance, check out the course. It is a nice little area with a solid golf course playable for all abilities.

Final score -- Shane - 75, Shane's Dad - 83


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