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Firewheel -- Bridge's Chamption Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 8.3

Golf - Public Course · 9 Holes · Par 36
Garland
Website · Locate This Course
Date Last Played: December 25, 2011

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Firewheel -- Bridge's Chamption Course Review

Firewheel at Garland Golf Course has a total of 63 holes of very good golf -- the Lakes, Old Course, and the Bridges which is home to three unique nines.  Owned and operated by the City of Garland, each of the courses has its own unique personality and characteristics:

  • The Old Course was built in 1984 and has 18 holes that consist of gently rolling terrain, tree lined fairways, 65 strategically placed bunkers, and slow moving streams winding throughout the course
  • The 18 hole Lakes Course is the longest (7134) and toughest of the courses thanks to tight fairways, carries over ten lakes, and 52 big faced bunkers - they say  "if the Bridges course has teeth, the Lakes Course has fangs"

The Bridges is the newest of the courses and was completed in 2001 and it is located about 3 miles from the Lakes and Old Course Clubhouse.  The Bridges has it's own clubhouse and is home to three different nine hole courses with bent grass greens, sculpted fairways lined with oak and pecan trees, and two creeks  that meander throughout the course.      

  • The Masters is the longest (3553 yards) and toughest and most fun of the three nines with tight tree lined fairways, water on 5 holes, and 35 bunkers
  • The Champions is the easiest with more forgiving and relatively flat fairways, some of which are side by side but water on 7 holes and 27 sand traps of all shapes and sizes can cause your problems
  • The Traditions is the middle of the roader and the shortest (3202 yards from the tips) but 4 lakes and a stream plus well guarded greens can make this nine challenging and fun

All three nines were designed by Dick Phelps and common to all of the Bridges nines are bent grass greens, very good conditions, an outstanding burger at the Branding Iron Restaurant, an excellent GPS, good service, and a fantastic rate for such a quality course.

We are not big fans of side by side holes and there are several of them on the Champion nine. If you can overlook that and stay in the fairway and hold the greens, you'll have a good fun round - this is a good nine with lots of variety, good conditions, and some fun holes. 

There are some interesting holes like:

  • #3 a 404 yard par 4 with water on both sides and 3 fairway bunkers and a tough approach shot to the green guarded by 4 bunkers
  • #4 gives you a good risk reward opportunity off the tee box to try and fly more of the lake to make this a shorter 402 yard dog leg left
  • the #1 handicap 9th hole can be a bear - 545 yards with three big fairway bunkers in your landing zone - one of which is in the middle of the fairway - plus two more protecting the right side of the green which has little room for error

Texas had suffered a tough year in 2011 that had impacted the conditions of all golf courses - a harsh cold winter, severe drought, and record heat took a toll.  We were surprised with the excellent condition of the roughs and fairways at Firewheel's Champion nine.  Most of the fairways were near perfect, except for a lot of divots.  The fairways are tree lined or side by side and most are ample - miss the fairway on the tree side and you're most likely lost.

When we played The Champion the bunkers were wet and not playable thanks to a badly needed rain.  The bunkers range in size from small  pot sized to some real monsters and most are steep faced.  It was hard to tell what the sand was like, but my guess would be it's pretty good but firm. 

The greens were recovering from the harsh conditions and some had rough spots and damage that could impact your putts. They were soft, held the ball well, and ran true and at a good speed of around 10.  Most had some slope and subtle breaks that require careful study before you putt. The greens at the Bridges vary is size and shape but most are large, but what makes them challenging is the slope as well as the fact that all are raised and well guarded.  Hit short and you're likely to roll back to the fairway and long will typically lead to trouble off the back side. 

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Gold 3,474 36.8 130
Blue 3,236 35.4 127
White 2,902 33.9 123
Red 2,614 35.9 122

Course Information

Course Architect:
Dick Phelps
Greens Type:
Bentgrass
Greens Condition
8.5
Greens Difficulty
8.0
Fairway Condition
9.0
Bunker Condition
8.5
GPS:
Yes
Walkable:
Easy
Scorecard
Beware of water on 7 holes and the 31 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
8.3 out of 10
Beauty:
8.0
Difficulty:
8.0
Variety:
8.0
Fun to Play:
8.5
Value:
9.0
Condition:
9.0
Front Nine Rating:
8.3
Back Nine Rating:
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FEES & AMENITIES

Approximate Weekend
Rates:
$34.00 to $60.00

Service is very good and attentive, the pro shop is well stocked, the Branding Iron Restaurant serves some good food with a view of the course (the burger is outstanding), and the practice facilities are adequate.

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Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.