Bear’s Best (Public)
5342 Aldeburgh Dr., Suwanee;
STAFF: Craig Riddle is the Club Manager; Cole Register is the Golf Professional.
PAR/YARDAGE: Bear’s Best plays to a par 72 with four sets of tees – Gold (7,037 yards); Blue (6,447); White (5,951); and Red (5,076).
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: 72.5/140 (Gold); 70.3/137 (Blue); 68.0/125 (White); 70.0/127 (Red).
ABOUT THE COURSE: Since it opened in 2002, Bear’s Best has vied for the title of top daily fee course in the Atlanta area, offering a unique layout that consists of 18 holes replicated from some of the finest designs of Jack Nicklaus. After taking a look at the relatively rugged terrain on which the course was built, Nicklaus determined what holes of his would work best in the setting, and the layout flows nicely, with no holes out of place from a design standpoint. There are a number of holes that will be familiar to golf fans, including two each from Muirfield Village and Sherwood Country Club, the 18th from Castle Rock, one of the “Bear Trap” holes from PGA Golf Club and three from courses in the British Isles that have hosted major international events. In all, 11 of the 18 holes are from courses that have been the site of televised tournaments. Although there are several holes where poorly struck shots will be severely penalized, Bear’s Best is not an overly demanding layout, especially by Nicklaus standards.
The back tees have been lengthened about 200 yards, but the yardages from the other three sets are unchanged. The course is very playable from the blue tees, with only the par-4 18th from Castle Rock having serious length. Bear’s Best features mostly generous fairways, although the Bermuda rough is a significant factor. As a group, the greens are on the small side, and with a handful of exceptions do not have an excess of undulation. Only about one-third of the holes have water in play, but those are definitely hazardous, most notably the par 3s from Muirfield Village and the Bear Trap, and the par-4 eighth from a less familiar Nicklaus design. The par 5s are hazard free but relatively tight, and provide some scoring opportunities along with four short-ish par 4s, including the first and 10th holes from Sherwood CC. There are some interesting design features around the greens on several of the opening holes, with the layout holding your interest from the first tee shot to last putt. The course is casually upscale, with typically outstanding conditions and a forecaddie program making it a strong attraction for out of town visitors and corporate outings.