Celebrating 25 Years At Bristol Ridge, Come Join The Celebration
By Rhett Arens
Over the past 25 years Bristol Ridge Golf Course has been dazzling players with its combination of natural setting, challenging layout and quality playing conditions. So as the 2019 season kicks-off, they want to throw a party and celebrate their own anniversary. There are plenty of reasons to tip your cap to the Bristol Ridge team, but tops among them is the courses excellent bang for your buck. With a wide variety of hole designs and a careful eye on the grounds keeping, they want to insure customers continue to make the short jaunt 10 miles east of Stillwater into Green Bay Packer territory.
The ease with which you can now access the greater Somerset area has been greatly enhanced with the opening of the St. Croix Crossing Bridge nearly two years ago. To put it mildly, it has been a game-changer. Instead of the tangled stop-and-go traffic through downtown Stillwater you now stay on Highway 36, cross the new bridge, which merges into Wisconsin Hwy 35/64 and boom, you are at the course in 10-15 minutes.
The course has always played with an abundance of variety and subtle changes as the round progresses. There are large and small greens, left and right doglegs, wetlands and woodlands, tight tree-lined fairways and open grip-and-rip expanses. Playing the course is such a pleasure as you roll from one set-up to the next and never seem to repeat yourself. It’s also a plus that there aren’t any houses on the course, think about it, that is quite rare in this era of residential golf course design. All of that undeveloped landscape lends itself to wildlife spotting and an appreciation of the natural elements. Rick Lange, who wears many hats within the BRGC operation shared an hilarious bear encounter on the aspen lined par 4, fourteenth that had both player and bear scampering hard in opposite directions.
The front nine starts with a classic ‘ease you into the round’ par 5. With a drive that cuts the corner just right, it’s reachable in two. Then the very narrow, intimidating par 4, second tee shot tests your confidence with a decision to go driver, 3 wood or long iron. The term power-fade was invented for the number one handicap par 5, fifth hole which only plays at 535 yards from the blue tees, but requires great distance control, steady shot making and a gentle left-to-right fade if you want to be standing over a par putt. Several longish par 4’s on the front (#6 and #9) will keep you on your toes.
One characteristic of the Bristol Ridge course design that stands out is the excellent batch of par 3 holes that it offers. There are majestic views on several, there are several with a combination of adjacent wetlands and rolling berms that can easily get in your head and all four par 3s seem to have an excellent atheistic feel to them. There is something special about stepping up to a hole that rewards you with that extra feeling.
The back nine opens with a classic risk-reward, short par 4 that is can give up birdy looks with an accurate second shot. The signature par 3 eleventh is a western facing elevated tee that will likely require a bit of thought concerning wind direction. How nice is it to watch an arcing shot work with the wind to give you something inside 10 feet? This is one of those holes. The fun continues on the par 5 twelfth, which allows you to swing hard off the tee and likely off the fairway on your second shot (assuming the drive went well). The green sits up behind a natural wetlands that will force you to carry or lay-up. Great stuff. The short par 4 sixteenth takes a hard left around a massive tree that, if played well off the tee, should give you a nice look into the small, rolling green. The 130 yard seventeenth is one of my favorite par 3s east of the Twin Cities. It’s a wedge or controlled 9 iron where careful consideration should be given to pin placement and putt direction. It’s always nice to be putting uphill.
This year the team at Bristol Ridge has put together several player-friendly deals, especially the Monday $25 with cart special, which you can upgrade to a $35 all-day rate and keep on swinging. The 2019 season will bring customer appreciation tournaments, music on the patio and other handful of other specials in celebration of their 25th anniversary.
With the greens coming through the winter in excellent shape, the wildlife coming out of a winter slumber and sun shining on the deck, there are plenty of reasons to cross the new bridge and play ‘The Ridge.’ Come join the celebration.