To search for course ratings and reviews from other states, visit Hacker's Guide
The Black Bear Golf Complex in Backus, Minnesota, is located north and east of Pine River, not far from the White Fish Chain of Lakes. Because the course is off the beaten path, we feel they could use more signage for better directions.
The clubhouse is pretty basic: They don't offer clothing or equipment for sale, and there is a limited menu of grill items. The green fee is inexpensive at $27.50 for 18 with a cart, and range balls are a reasonable $1.50 for a small bucket or $3 for a large one. The golf carts are older gas-powered carts-- which is odd since the course itself is only 10 years old--but they are in good shape.
The back nine and the driving range are across the road from the front nine and the clubhouse, but neither the signs nor the scorecard indicated where to go for the back nine or how to get from green to tee, so we had to ask for directions a couple times.
The course is mostly wide open. For a northern course, there aren't that many trees, but there is a good amount of elevation change. A few tee boxes are relatively small; many of them are narrow and don't offer a lot of variety for different skill levels. There are three sets of tees, and the length goes from the forward tees at 4685 yards to the back tees at 6064 yards. Some of the holes seem to play much too short. You have par 5s at 382 and 396 yards from the middle tees, and there is a par 4 that is 220 yards.
This is not an easily walkable course--some of the green-to-tee distances seem close to a mile. The fairways are in okay condition--not great, but not terrible. The most notable part of the course is the greens. Some of them have a severe slope, so you could hit a ball that would almost go in but then turn around and roll off the green. For a resort course the greens are cut awfully short. This, combined with the slope and size of the greens, makes Black Bear a not very hacker-friendly course.