Bella Vista Golf Course
Teacher’s Comments: An enjoyable, but not particularly memorable course.
Bella Vista—formerly Blackberry Patch—is a course at the heart of a planned (and partially executed) residential community. I am not generally a fan of residential community courses, but this one was a cut above. The difference is partially in the interesting terrain, and partially that the community is still largely unbuilt.
Bella Vista measures 7,011 from the tips, where it plays to a 74.1/136. From the whites, it measures 6,094 and plays to a 70/132. Because of the carries required on many holes, you’ll want to choose your tees wisely. The carries did not bother me on that round, but both of my playing companions found themselves dropping balls
The terrain is a mix of field, forest and marsh. Some slight elevation changes also come into play, although none will really leave you guessing.
Bella Vista’s layout consists of a nice mix of holes. Five of the holes bend to favor a fade; six to favor a draw. I counted some 40 bunkers, and water or marsh come into play on eight holes. Twelve of the holes are more or less wooded; the other six are routed across open fields.
My favorite hole was the 376 yard par 4 sixteenth (above) that plays with a slight dogleg left. The tee shot needs to clear a gulley, and the second stay clear of trees right. The green—as with many on the course, slopes toward the front.
I also really liked the par 4 tenth, a 387 yard dogleg right (above). A well placed tee shot carries a depression and lands on a following ridge. The shot needs to stay left to avoid overhanging trees on the right (which of course, is where I landed). From there, you’ll have a short iron shot to the green. I like this because, even from the tips, it is a driver-mid-or-short-iron hole. The hole had recently been aerated, but I that’s typical on a fall day on a Michigan course. Just whisk the dirt clods away and play on.
The par 3 second (above) may be the most memorable hole, though. Measuring 208 from the back tees, and 178 from the whites, it requires a precise shot between stands of trees over a marsh to an unfriendly green.
I found the greens at Bella Vista fairly easy to read and putt. My playing partners also managed to sink quite a few distance putts.
Conditions on the day I played were very good. Greens were in good shape, as were the tee boxes. Parts of some of the fairways were a bit bare, but it was nothing that would impede play. I was, however, dismayed by encroaching branches on several holes that made drives unnecessarily difficult (as in the photo above).
I’m not sorry that I drove the hour and a half from GolfBlogger World Headquarters to play Bella Vista, but I don’t think I would do it again. It was a pleasant enough course, but not particularly memorable. If you do have a hankering to play, I suggest you do it before any more homes are built. The stakes for the lots make it pretty clear to me that the course will at some point be just another residential track.
More photos follow:
(originally published Nov. 2014)