Northern Bear Greens, Course, Back in Tip-Top Shape

Northern Bear


SHERWOOD PARK, Alberta — After what could be referred to as a season-long hibernation during 2018, the putting surfaces at Northern Bear, one of not only Edmonton’s but the country’s top public golf courses, are back and growing ... or growling.

The Bear’s Director of Golf, Blair McDowell, said that after a rough go during the 2018 golf season the greens have come back in a wonderful way for 2019, once again welcoming golfers to their challenging contours.

“Last year we had some ice damage, as did a lot of golf courses in our area, and ultimately we didn’t have great greens (conditions). This year, we’re already starting out in better shape. The eighth green we eventually re-sodded but for the most part our greens are a lot better this year. And our golf course, for April, is in a lot better shape.”

In regard to the damages caused by a freeze-thaw-freeze cycle during the on-again, off-again winter of 2017-18, McDowell explained the damage that occurred are caused by ice forming on the putting surfaces. That’s a significant blow to any golf course’s greens, given the nature of that turf in particular.

“The grass on a green is so tight,” as compared to the length of grass on someone’s front lawn. he began. “We didn’t only have snow and ice that winter, we had rain in December and it literally froze on the grass and it killed it,” essentially smothering it because no air could reach the grass. “It’s so short and there isn’t that much separating it from the ice. The snow is an insulator but if you don’t have a snow cover and have nothing but ice on the grass, it kills it.”

A heavy top dressing helped protect the putting surfaces this past winter and clearing ice off as it formed also contributed to the better conditions for this season. The less-than-perfect putting problems though are now in the past as Northern Bear comes out of its winter’s hibernation ready to face golfers with the greens being as good as ever at the course.

As to its country-wide reputation, McDowell said of his facility's top-59 national ranking, “It comes down to each hole is a great golf hole here. You’re not going to find two holes alike. There’s not a bad hole on the golf course. Not only is it a great layout but every hole is a great hole!” made even more so this year as the greens are right back where they should be at Northern Bear.

About the Writer
Gord Montgomery is 
a member in good standing of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. He is now in his 10th year of writing for Inside Golf. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. He’s also on Twitter at @gordinsidegolf and on Instagram at gordinsidegolf2.