Course Review: Bond Head North

PRESENTED BY: Cobra Logo

Bond Head North
I will admit, I had biases going into Bond Head. I am always skeptical of golf courses with the frivolous, fingered and very modern looking bunkering. For one, I always feel like it has never really served much of a purpose and really just increases the maintenance needed to keep them up to snuff.

There are examples where it works, of course, like Banff Springs mimicking the mountain peaks, or a handful of excellent Tillinghast golf courses, but I have found that more times than not, it just feels useless.

This led to a preconceived idea of what Bond Head’s North course would be like—never a great start going into a golf course, but I made the 45 minute or so journey north of the city, and I am happy I did.

The routing starts on a gentle note. A middle length par 4 at 407 yards, the opening tee ball is at the highest point of the golf course, and other than a bunker right, it is a generous landing area.

Bond Head North

The golf course is pretty extreme all things considered, but some of the fall offs around the greens are quite severe. At the 1st, anywhere but short is dramatically below the putting surface.

Bond Head North

The second is the first of a handful of uphill holes that I suspect are controversial. At 415 yards, there is almost a “Bottle” template to it (a middle bunker sequence dividing the hole into two sections), but for me, it is a bit overdone. In total, the driving zone has 7 bunkers, when I think two or three could have achieved the same goal. Nonetheless, the strategies are good, with the upper left fairway having the easier second shot in, but harder tee ball (and opposite with the lower right fairway).

Bond Head North

From the right fairway, the approach shot over a grouping of menacing bunkers, really pops out. For those who can, the upper fairway is much preferred as the right fairway is quite demanding coming up to the green.

Bond Head North

After the climb up that occurs during hole two, the third is a gentle 198-yard par 3 set a flat piece of ground. Bunkers left and right will ask for a good shot, but the hole does not really provide anything overly unique or new.

Bond Head North

The fourth is an easy par 5 at 537 yards from the furthest deck back. A bunker on the right creeps into the fairway, really pronouncing the dogleg.

Bond Head North

From there, the hole goes up to the right before moving back down to the left. Essentially, the hole plays around a couple big bunkers on the left which certainly can make a layup difficult.

Bond Head North

The approach shot is visually interesting, with the big, aggressive bunkers looking directly at the golfer.

Bond Head North

I was quite impressed with the dogleg left par 4, 5th, which was a strong par 4 at one yard shy of 490. A bunker on the inside corner is the main hazard to avoid, while a bunker on the outer corner is a secondary hazard for those who are long enough, yet do not take an aggressive line.

Bond Head North

The green complex and its surrounds are really extreme, meaning the long iron most will come in with must be accurate. Anything long or right is not going to be gentle on the next shot.

Bond Head North

The sixth is one of the most bizarre golf holes I have ever seen, but even to this day, I still have trouble deciding how I truly feel about it. The card lists 349 yards, but the severity of the golf hole means it plays quite a bit longer. Driver off the tee is the play.

Bond Head North

The slew of bunkers cut into the hillside really guides the golf hole up to the left, and would be a pain to be in. Like the tee shot, the approach shot plays dramatically uphill.

Bond Head North

The climb up 6 really makes sense when you get to the beautiful 167-yard par 3, 7th. I can understand making the climb up for arguably the best vista on the golf course, and the green perched above the surrounds is easy on the eyes as well.

Bond Head North

At the bottom of the property, the 602 yard par 5, 8th will likely be the most difficult tee shot for most. Bunkers right, a single bunker left, and bad news even further left, this is a demanding tee shot on a long golf hole.

Bond Head North

The tee shot is gently downhill, but from the middle of the fairway the hole climbs up slightly.

Bond Head North

For those who like to lay up with intention, the left side is preferred, but brings in a lost ball with the mixed grasses and fescue. Two big bunkers cut into the front right of the green.

Bond Head North

The 9th is a good uphill par 4 to finish the front nine. At 408 yards, the tee shot is to be respected with a grouping of bunkering on the right of this gentle dogleg right.

Bond Head North

The green is built up, with bunkers left and right to catch wayward shots.

Bond Head North

The back nine starts on a high note with a strong 453-yard par 4 playing over a ridge. A bunker in the middle is a good directional bunker, but may come in play depending on how windy it is.

Bond Head North

If the greens are firm, the right side of the fairway is preferred thanks to a single bunker on the left angling the green to the left.

Bond Head North

The 11th is a really cool golf hole, but an absolute menace at 268 yards (!!) from the back tee. The concept of a “Redan” template is utilized here, with a kicker slope on the right that can help those really long holes funnel in. The green does not slope to the back left, so not a perfect replica of the famed North Berwick template, but a nice modern homage.

Bond Head North

Continuing the good stretch of golf, the 12th is a gettable par 5 playing over a gully. The hole is framed nicely on either side, and the task is simple: middle.

Bond Head North

At 521 yards from the back deck, this will be a short par 5 for most golfers, giving them the chance to be green side in two. Only the front left portion of the green is acceptable for run up shots; anything right will end up in the green side bunker.

Bond Head North

For those who elect to layup, a straightforward wedge awaits.

Bond Head North

Following a rather aggressive opening two-thirds of the golf course, we transition to the flatter piece of property with the 420-yard par 4, 13th. That is not to say the holes are boring—they provide the perfect reprieve from the rambunctious routing.

Bond Head North

The approach shot is more approachable from the right hand side, with two big bunkers cut into the right of the hill which the green sits atop.

Bond Head North

The 14th is a rather mundane par 3, but difficult at 220 yards slightly uphill. There is a generous bail out on the right side which is friendly.

Bond Head North

I liked the 15th hole, which was a good 448-yard par 4 swinging around a couple bunkers in the fairway.

Bond Head North

The green is rather nondescript, but there is enough movement to be interesting enough. The tee shot really makes this hole for me.

Bond Head North

The 16th is a really cool little par 3 at 162 yards with a skinny green snaking around the landscape. With a ridge running through the middle, there are two distinct tiers. Depending on where the pin is, being on the wrong side can be a nightmare!

Bond Head North

The 17th is likely another controversial golf hole, and mostly because it goes straight uphill. At 548 yards, this middle length par 5 plays quite a bit longer. Bunkers are dotted up the left and right, really demanding a good tee shot over the gorge.

Bond Head North

The tee shot is not as uphill as the next two, which go straight up the countryside. There is quite a bit of room to the left, but the green sits on the right.

Bond Head North

As seen below, the green is perched high above the left side, where a bunker sits eagerly awaiting.

Bond Head North

The 18th is a healthy finish to a stern test, and the only fitting conclusion available. At 476 yards, the bunkering on the left must be challenged for the premiere angle in.

Bond Head North

After getting past the tee shot, the green has two bunkers on the right. This green is subtle and could cause putting fits, so finish strong.

Bond Head North

If I had listened to my biases about Bond Head North, I would have missed an interesting golf course. The criticisms of being too difficult or far too penal are astute and accurate, but perhaps overcome by playing the correct tee or even one up.

There are holes here that do not work—like the 6th—or holes that are good in concept but probably poor in execution—like the 2nd—but overall, I found Bond Head’s North course to be enjoyable. I could see others not finding it appealing, but regardless, if I had listened to my preconceived notions, I would have missed an enjoyable golf course.

6 thoughts on “Course Review: Bond Head North

  1. John Moritsugu says:

    I played Bond Head North in August 2017. My handicap index was 11.5 at the time and I played in a foursome in the third group of the day. It took us 4 hrs 55 mins to complete the round and we never saw the group in front or behind. In my opinion, the course is too difficult for regular golfers. We played the white tees and had a miserable time. One major complaint – on most holes, the parking area for golf carts is 75-100 yards from the green, which adds time to the round. I hit the ball reasonably well that day and shot 95. Never go back again.

  2. Wally Kemp says:

    Andrew, go back into how the course was built and you will find that the mundane par 3 -14th was not part of the original routing, the 18th was actually built on the south side of the road heading back into the clubhouse, for some reason this was changed and the 14th was added.

    Your review was accurate and interesting but obviously written from the perspective of a scratch golfer, look at it from the eyes of a bogie golfer and you will get an entirely different view. I am that bogie golfer and love Bond Head North.

    • Andrew Harvie says:

      Wally,

      Thanks for the note. I did see that 18th on the plan in the clubhouse, but did not have enough time to look more to see which hole was added. The flow of the golf course is probably better now. I feel like going across the road to finish would really mess with the fung shui of the place.

      In regards to the second post, yes, I am a scratch golfer! But architecture is understanding all levels of golf, so I feel like I make sure I take into account everything. Strategies are the same for everyone, but playability is not and I thought I mentioned that. I can jot it down to make sure it becomes a priority next review!

  3. Gregor says:

    I quite like Bond Head North, but as the reviewer mentions, you have to play it from the right tee box. If you haven’t got a handicap in single digits, play it from the whites. Don’t take a look at the yardage, and then decide that you can play further back because it looks short, as you’ll have a really tough time and hold up everyone behind you.
    The only real quibble I have with the North course, is that its not as nice as the South, which is so much fun to play. An ideal day is to go play the South, stop and have some lunch, and then go play the North on a replay rate so you aren’t as bothered about shooting a great score. I guess we’ll have to wait for COVID to be over before we get to do course replays again though.

  4. Patrick Singleton says:

    Bond head north is a gem if you love the challenge of major changes. One thing the op did wrong is on 6. You play a 3 wood down the right and make it a safe shot. Coming in with an iron is by far the easier shot then trying to fly a wedge up that high and getting it to stick.

  5. Jim H says:

    This is one of the worst courses I’ve ever played. I love a challenge but this course is ridiculous. Even after perfect/lucky drives there is no reward for your 2nd shot. You will be punished severely for any shots that aren’t on the green. Do yourself a favor and play somewhere else. Playing a hole that is longer vertically than horizontally is dumb and will not give you any satisfaction. They should either reverse some of the holes or give it an entire redesign.

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