Review of Bear Creek Challenger Course in Houston
Owned and managed by Century Golf, Bear Creek is home to three nines, each of which has it's own personality and characteristics. For example:
When you first play Challenger and take a look at the score card your jaws may drop ("this is going to be a piece of cake") because the yardage from the three tee boxes is only 4432, 4907, and 5295 yards! Finally, I can play from the tips! But then you realize that its short because there are 8 par 3s and only 2 par 5s. Maybe I shouldn't play from the tips!
Outside of it being a par 66, Challenger is very straightforward and traditional and not real exciting - all of the holes are side by side and the pin is straight ahead from the tee box and it's "what you see is what you get." There are a couple small dog leg left holes on the back. From the tips, the pars 3s range from 120 to 194 yards and the par 4s are 339 to 405 yards. The two par 5s are manageable and good par opportunities at 563 and 459. Overall, Challenger is a good opportunity to score well, use a variety of clubs, practice your short game, and learn how to stay dry and out of the sand.
Since none of the holes are really long, it's not distance that is going to hurt your game - it's water on 12 holes and bunkers guarding relatively small greens, putting a premium on course management and your approach shots. On several holes you'll need to carry the water off the tee box, over creeks that cross the fairway, or on your approach shot to the green. You'll also need to avoid the bunkers that guard the greens - every green has one bunker and 4 have 2 bunkers waiting for your golf ball. And wind can be a factor, both against and with you.
When we played in July, Bear Creek's Challenger course was in very good condition from tee to pin. The fairways are ample to a little tight but if you miss them you'll most likely have a recoverable shot from the other fairway. A scattering of trees line the fairways - no homes, no dogs, and no heckling residents! Thanks to some rain the rough was thick and in places it covered the ball.
The greens were also in good condition but they ran very slow. The Bear Creek Challenger greens were raised, very soft and held the ball well, and ran true. Most have some slope or minor contour but were easy to read. The greens are difficult to hit because most are small to below average size.
The bunkers were near perfect - soft fluffy thick sand and well manicured. I know, I spent a lot of time in them! The lips ranged from a foot or so to over 3 feet.
Bottom line - not a real exciting layout but it's fun to play, in good shape, and a reasonable price.
Rates: $27.00 to $52.00
The pro shop has a good selection of everything as does the grill. The patio is excellent for lunch or a cold beer to settle your bets. The practice range and putting green are adequate. When we played on a Friday, the cart lady didn't show up until the 18th hole.
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!
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.