|Bring It On At Bristol Ridge|
By Rhett ArensThere aren't too many golf courses around the Twin Cities where you can play an entire round and never see a house. In the heart of the St. Croix River Valley, Bristol Ridge is just a 10 minute drive from Stillwater, but it might as well be in the middle of nowhere. It is safe to say you won't be hitting any balls into swimming pools during this round.
Bristol Ridge isn't considered a long track, but it has plenty of challenges as it winds in and around the tall trees and rolling countryside near Somerset, WI. Established in 1994, the course features have matured nicely adding to the natural elevation, which leave very few flat lie shots. General Manger, Mitch Gorres and his staff have focused on a number of groundskeeping improvements in the last several years. The greens and fairway conditions are top notch. In 2017 they are edging and reshaping the bunkers, which adds to the overall atheistic feel of the course.
All of that quality hasn't gone unnoticed. Bristol plays host to a number of annual buddy outings going back as far as 17 years. Those groups typically reserve a handful of tee times during select weekends throughout the summer. In fact, one of the longstanding groups have created a handbook which coined holes #2 and #5 as 'the bitch' and 'the bear' respectively. The par 4 second has a narrow, nerve racking tee shot with an uphill finish on a tilted green. Good luck. The par 5 fifth has a bearish right corner, which is very difficult to reach off the white tee's. This means you'll likely layup around the corner with 130-150 yards left to the green. A par feels like victory on this hole. You'll have to hit three excellent golf shots in a row to score birdie, which is why it is appropriately rated as the number one handicap.
I am hard pressed to come up with a better start to a back nine then the #10, #11 and #12 holes at Bristol Ridge. These three holes in sequence are a golfer's delight. They are a variety plate of shots, looks and options. The par 4 tenth is a classic risk reward hole where your ability to hit a narrow landing area will reward you with an easy wedge versus a much tougher mid iron. The short par 3 eleventh is a dramatic elevation into a large green. Calculating wind and the elevation factor will definitely come into play even on a mild day. Don't overgrip or you are likely to pull into the deep marshland that runs up the left side of the green. The par 5 twelveth presents an opportunity to let it rip off the tee, and then, pending your line, maybe take a shot across a meadow into the bunker guarded green. The green has some decent undulation, which makes a birdie tough, but if you stay under the hole it can be done. After a stretch like that catch your breath and thank your lucky stars you found this gem of a course.
Bristol Ridge has launched a new Juniors Program for 8-16 year olds that promises to bring those budding beginners into a solid golf game. Mitch sees a real need to keep the youth demographic interested in the game and contributing to golf's future and its overall appeal. They also have an active league calendar going three nights a week, with a women's league on Tuesdays and men's on Wednesdays and Thursdays. All leagues are open to the public. After league, the clubhouse has a comfortable atmosphere where the recap and bets can be settled. Excellent food is on hand thanks to a new full-time kitchen manager. The course also provides re-gripping, re-shafting and club repairs upon request.
Bristol Ridge offers a staggering range of memberships, all are geared towards tailoring your play frequency to almost any level. The sliding price scale makes the membership option a reality for any golfer.
When setting up your next round give this course serious consideration. It's highly recommended that you bring a friend or three because otherwise the only witnesses you'll have to sign that hole-in-one card will be an eagle, or deer, or fox, or turkey. Besides, as Mitch puts it, "You can't beat the cost, value and scenery that Bristol brings to the table."
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