Little Bear Village Golf Club - Giving Golf Back to the People

Little Bear Village Golf ClubThere are three common answers to the question: “Why don’t you play golf?” In no particular order they are: the expense, the time commitment and the degree of difficulty, whether it be understanding the rules or learning the complexities of the swing.

All of the aforementioned responses are obstacles to the growth of the game, and until the barriers are broken down, the number of people participating in golf around the country will remain stagnant.

A new golf club outside of golf-crazed Columbus is doing its part to introduce new players to the game, as well as allow avid golfers to get in a round without having to schedule a vacation day. Little Bear Golf Village is a 10-hole track located in Lewis Center that’s affordable, family-friendly, and most important of all, fun for everyone regardless of ability.

“In central Ohio we’re blessed with so many really outstanding private clubs,” said Bill McCorkle, the brains behind Little Bear. “We are a public facility, and welcome everybody. We just ask them to hit the ball and keep moving.”

Designed by Dr. Michael Hurdzan, the same architect responsible for Wisconsin’s Erin Hills and Ohio’s Cooks Creek and The Golf Club of Dublin, Little Bear sits on 22 acres that used to be a flat soybean field, but now has rolling features, three large lakes, more than 1,000 trees, a beautiful waterfall and 22 sand traps.

Unconventional, yes; but Unprecedented no.

Throughout the history of the game, there have been a variety of configurations other than the traditional 9-hole and 18-hole layouts. The Old Course at St. Andrews started as a 12-hole course, with 10 of those holes played coming in and going out. New York’s Shinnecock Hills also originated with 12 holes.

Little Bear was built with player’s time constraints and pace of play in mind. The two 5-hole loops allow golfers who only have a set amount of time to devote to golf to get in and get out under 45 minutes. Unlike 9-hole courses, where players can only start on No. 1, the unique setup at Little Bear lets players tee off on the front or back five. Because of the unique hole numbering system that is No. 1 and No. 10.

Little Bear

Little Bear has a bonus hole designed as a replica to the famous island green No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass. Players can take aim at this special hole for free with a paid 10-hole round or pony up $1 per shot. To no surprise, the island green has become a popular spot for local fundraisers, outings and charity events.

It would seem like a facility dedicated to families and beginning golfers would have a tendency to get beat up, especially on the greens. But Little Bear’s tees and greens are always in pristine condition. McCorkle, who is a past PBA Champion and member of the Ohio Bowling Hall of Fame, borrowed a few of his ideas for this golf course from the sport of bowling, a game he played so well for so many years. Most bowling centers have lanes that are made of synthetic material, but appear to be genuine wood lanes.

The greens at Little Bear are made of synthetic grass, but golfers will see actual tiny blades on the putting surfaces that always roll smooth and quick; they’re about 12 on the Stimpmeter. “Every course would love to have greens that look like ours,” McCorkle quipped.

Little Bear’s greens have the same number of blades per square inch as real greens, are disease proof and putt true and fast. They hold high shots real well.

Synthetic greens achieve two objectives; they’re environmentally friendly, requiring no mowing or chemical treatment, and they keep maintenance costs down, which in turn keeps greens fees very affordable. With a breeze from the west, like the British Open, the greens are as fast as Augusta and our rough is tall fescue like the US Open; it’s like playing three Majors for $10 during the week.

It’s conceivable that golf purists will roll their eyes at the efforts of Little Bear, but McCorkle made it clear that his course is not competitng with the 18-hole par-72 championship courses in the area.

Little Bear

“I don’t look at us as going up against other courses,” he said. “We’re competing more with movie theaters, driving ranges and other family activities in the area. There aren’t many options for families to spend time together in a healthy environment. We want to build golfers, not take golfers from other courses. We have several customers who are country club members. They play with their buddies on the weekend but bring their sons and daughters here during the week. There are many times when we have three generations playing together in groups on our course. No way could they all go out and play the super long courses.”

With all of that said, don’t get the impression that Little Bear is a walk in the park. McCorkle says that during his three seasons of operations, only one player has broken par on the course. Little Bear also features golf instruction and leagues, and has the necessary facilities, including a spectacular clubhouse, restaurant and observation deck. It’s ideal for weddings, corporate events and golf tournaments. For more information about the course, please visit www.littlebearvillage.com.

 

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