Go Low with Golf Mesquite Nevada

By Cody Law

Coral Canyon Par 3 #6 Green HIt’s no secret you can go low with Golf Mesquite Nevada stay and play packages. GolfMesquiteNevada.com offers championship golf courses and luxurious resorts all at your fingertips and is the perfect place to customize your next Mesquite, Nevada golf getaway.

Low green fees, low resort room rates and low scores!

Well, the low scores we will leave up to you!

Come and see what makes the city of Mesquite such a popular destination for both casual and competitive golfers. Golf Mesquite Nevada can help you customize an amazing golf vacation package so you spend your days on the golf course and your evenings resting in luxurious accommodations at one of our world-class resort hotels. Golf Mesquite Nevada offers six championship golf courses, each with a different challenge and a beautiful setting.

Mesquite golf packages include resort accommodations and as much golf as you can handle and they can customize your vacation to include even more. Mesquite, Nevada is filled with opportunities for fine dining, thrilling casino action and plenty of relaxing resort amenities. There are also some national and state parks nearby, so if you just want to spend some time exploring the great outdoors, they can include that as part of your trip.

Why Mesquite?

Mesquite features a wide range of things to do, and with beautiful weather all year long they can tailor your vacation to match your interests. Whether you want to spend some time inside trying your luck at one of the 24-hour casinos or challenge yourself to become a better golfer, you can do it in Mesquite. You can experience the rugged beauty of the local area while hiking through a national or state park, or just stay poolside and relax at a world-class resort. Mesquite offers a lot of great opportunities for fun without the crowds and prices of other resort towns.

Mesquite golf vacations can easily be complemented with some of the fun and entertaining activities throughout the city. Whether you’re looking for some simple entertainment or a rugged outdoor adventure, there’s something in Mesquite for you.


Of course there’s golf – There are six courses with varying degrees of challenge all within driving distance of Mesquite as your hub. Fill your golf vacation packages by testing your skills on courses set in some of the most unbelievable scenery around.


Check the schedule and attend some of the high-profile golfing events held at specific times during the year including the World Long Drive Championship, the Mesquite Amateur, the Nevada Open and our newest event, the Para-World Long Drive championship.


Whether at the resort or one of the other locations around town, Mesquite has many opportunities to catch some comedy, a lounge act, live music, and more. It’s a great way to finish of a day out in the sun.


Try your luck at a complete range of casino games. These casinos are open 24 hours a day so can easily squeeze in a quick game or two before or after your tee time.


Some of the resorts offer a wonderful spa treatment to help you relax, unwind, and get ready for another day on the links. Get a shiatsu or deep tissue massage to escape the stress of your regular life and really enjoy your vacation time.


Mesquite in conveniently located near a wide range of National and State Parks and other outdoor venues so you can explore the rugged beauty of nearby Zion Canyon or the Grand Canyon or Cathedral Gorge and Lake Mead.


There are a lot of options for dining in Mesquite, from the local grills to the first-class establishments. Don’t forget the buffets at the hotels where you’re staying.

Whether you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing escape from your normal work week or just want to include as much fun and excitement as possible during your golf vacation, they can help you get the most out of your time away from reality.


If its golf you’re after Mesquite has plenty to offer. The Golf Mesquite Nevada menu of championship courses offers a diversity of stunning beauty and as much challenge as you wish.

The Palmer and Canyons Courses at Oasis Golf Club

7th hole on The Palmer at Oasis GCThe Canyons Course was designed to fit in perfectly with its natural surroundings, so golfers are treated to a wonderful scenic experience as they play their way around the course. Golf at the Canyons is player friendly, and at 6,400 yards golfers of many different skill levels have a chance for great scores. The key on the Canyons Course is hitting shots to the well-defined landing areas.

The Arnold Palmer designed Palmer Course offers emerald green fairways cradled in isolated canyons, a box canyon enshrining a lush green, four unique signature holes, elevated tees with majestic drops and numerous hazards created by Mother Nature. The Palmer Course once played host to the Golf Channel’s popular Big Break show.

Falcon Ridge Golf Course

Golf Course Images By Brian Oar of Fairways PhotgraphyFalcon Ridge offers a par-71 course spread out over 6,550 yards with some impressive elevation changes. Whether you are an experienced player or just getting started, this course is perfect for all levels of golfers. Scoring opportunities come fast on the opening nine holes before the course stretches out and more strategic golf shots are required on the inward nine. The golf course sits high on the cliffs of Mesquite and flows through the hills and canyons providing one of the most picturesque golf venues in all of Mesquite golf.

Coyote Springs Golf Club

Hole 13 at Coyote Springs Golf ClubLocated about 50 minutes to the south of Mesquite, Coyote Springs is a Jack Nicklaus Signature design offering an excellent challenge of golf. Set on the rolling Nevada desert, the course is a scenic wonder. The course is the ultimate golf challenge from the tips at 7,471-yards but with four sets of tee boxes the course can also play 5,349 yards from the forward tees. Eleven lakes come into play on the course that many consider to be one of Nicklaus’ finest desert creations.

Coral Canyon Golf Course

Coral Canyon Par 3 #6 Green H (1)It’s a good idea to warm up a little at the Coral Canyon driving range before you hit the course as right off the bat you’re met with two par-5s ready for the taking. The course will then take you around some of the most beautiful red-rock formations in southern Utah, providing a scenic backdrop to an impressive golfing challenge. The course’s character and beauty is only outdone by its variety of risk/reward opportunities.

Sand Hollow Resort

Sand Hollow Resort 13 hole horizontal from tee box north viewThe Championship Course utilizes dramatic elevation changes, natural sandstone ledges, and extraordinary rock outcroppings to create a picturesque golf environment. The 18 championship holes feature four sets of tees for all varieties of golfers. Tightly mown fairways surrounded by vibrant red sand hazards lead into seamless greens ranging from 4,000 to 15,000 square feet. Encircled by the desert’s indigenous plant life and the panoramic beauty of Utah’s “color country,” Sand Hollow Resort’s Championship Course brings a golfer’s dreams to life.

*Images provided courtesy Fairways Media/Randy Dodson

Cody Law is the executive director of Golf Mesquite Nevada, a marketing co-op of golf courses and resorts in the surrounding Mesquite, Nevada area. For detailed answers to your golf vacation questions please email Claw@golfmesquitenevada.com or visit www.golfmesquitenevada.com.

Bucket List: Golf in New Zealand with XperieNZ

Gulf Harbour - Aerial 16thMaking a Bucket List is one thing and following up on it is another. Some of you maybe never considered such a location while others have had New Zealand on the list for years. Make it happen and you will be glad you followed through.

New Zealand is a big, beautiful playground, loaded with opportunities to create a truly unique and magical travel experience. Complementing the jaw-dropping scenery and stunning landscapes are some of the best golf courses in the world allowing you, the golfer, to enjoy awesome beauty while playing golf.

Golf in New Zealand is a well-balanced way to sink into a landscape that compels exploration of hot springs, glaciers, rain forests, volcanoes – all this in a place not much larger than Colorado. Golf and New Zealand are made for journeys, both physical and spiritual.

New Zealand is truly a one-stop-shop as Mother Nature decided to condense her best features in one tiny country, from oceans to volcanic mountains where lush rain forests meet glaciers and fiords like no other. Known for its amazing and awesome activities, from exhilarating to heart stopping to simply breath taking, New Zealand has something for everyone.

Set amidst landscape that is as diverse and different to anywhere else are some unique golf courses that are within 2 to 3 hours of each other by road and less by flight. Planning such a golf trip calls for using a pro.

Kumar Swaminathan, originally from the hi-tech world of Silcon Valley in California, moved to New Zealand in 2002. Combining his passion for golf and love for New Zealand, Kumar launched XperieNZ Limited, an inbound Destination Management Company focused on providing golfers with a fresh new experience that is unparalleled to anything they have experienced before.

XperieNZ Limited, a New Zealand company, began as an exclusive golf vacation company in Auckland early in January 2013 and have since then diversified to other vacation programs that are suitable for all.

Using his knowledge of playing around New Zealand over the last dozen years, Kumar has designed programs that combine jaw-dropping and spectacular landscapes of the world’s most beautiful place with equally stunning and awesome golf courses strategically located around the country. Kumar’s programs are focused on delivering maximum satisfaction with extraordinary vacationexperience of a lifetime. This is a journey that truly is both physical and spiritual.

From the moment his guests land in New Zealand to the time they reluctantly leave to head back home they will be taken care of. With careful planning and design, Kumar has interspersed the programs to include key sightseeing locations and activities as desired without the tight scheduling of group tours. Most importantly he has taken away the pain of planning and figuring out where to go and what to do next for the guests allowing them to completely enjoy their holiday. All guests have to do is arrange their own airfare to and from the United States so that they can “Be Here, Play Here” and the rest will be taken care of by XperieNZ Limited.

Here is what you should know in advance: The best time to play golf in New Zealand is from mid October to Mid May. This works out nicely as your favorite Northwest courses are somewhere between unfavorably cold, wet, or white. Taking an international flight off of the West Coast is pretty easy, and though the flight is long, what awaits you is worth it. Finally, the pros at XperieNZ want your Bucket List trip to rival all other trips.

Take a peek at a favorite itinerary:

Synopsis: This 11-day/10-night program featuring the two Great Lakes of New Zealand is a mere sampling of the endless possibilities of this amazing country. Combine this with 4 of the top 10 courses in the country and you end up with a perfect balance between pleasure and satisfaction in the short time you experience this country. Instead of cramming round after round, the Great Lakes program is interspersed, for your pleasure, with some of the most stunning and awe inspiring scenes of nature from the ground, and over water including a cruise on one of the renowned Sounds in the Southern Hemisphere.

This program includes the following:
• 10 nights accommodation with breakfast in a class of stay to suit your budget
• Auckland – 2 night
• Lake Taupo – 3 nights
• Queenstown – 5 nights
• Private Transfers on arrival day in Auckland
• Van Rental – SUV with standard insurance for 4, 6, or 8 golfers
• One round of golf with shared golf cart at each of the following:
• Wairakei International Golf Course, ranked #8 in New Zealand
• The Kinloch – the only Jack Nicklaus Signature Course in New Zealand, ranked #4 in New Zealand
• The Millbrook, ranked #3 in South Island and # 9 in New Zealand
• Two rounds at Jack’s Point, ranked #1 in South Island and #5 in New Zealand
• Waitomo Glow Worm Cave tour
• Te Puia Daytime Experience Combo
• Agrodome Sheep Show
• Milford Sound Scenic Cruise with Picnic Lunch
• Gondola + 2 Luge Rides each
• Shotover Jet Boat Ride

In fact, if you’re wondering what your investment in the trip of a lifetime might be, a guest can expect to pay from as little as U.S. $1,475 for a 7 day trip that includes rental vehicle or private transfer, stay with breakfast, 3 rounds of golf and couple of unique Kiwi experiences. For the same 7 day trip on a fully loaded, personalized, high-end, and ultra-luxury trip that includes stay in a luxury boutique hotel, a welcome 5 course wine degustation dinner, private helicopter wine tour, helicopter scenic flights over stunning landscapes with a cruise on a Fiord, Hot Air Balloon Ride, thrilling jet boat rides the price is U.S. $9,000 per person and more depending on the inclusions. All prices are based on a minimum of 4 golfers or more. We suggest emailing XperieNZ to learn more about your tailormade golf package.
Wondering about the golf courses mentioned above? Wonder no more. They are pretty amazing. We have included a few other courses that might pique your interest as well.

The Kinloch Club
The Kinlcoh 3rd Green27,000 years since a super eruption created the stunning landscape and pumice soil base, Jack Nicklaus has created a masterpiece which could fool you into thinking the course has been there for over a century. A stunning backdrop of Lake Taupo to the south and the Kinloch hills to the east creates a unique ambiance that is rarely experienced anywhere else in the world.

The Jack Nicklaus Signature Course has 5 sets of tees for all levels of golfers. The par 72 eighteen hole Championship golf course measures:
– 6734 meters (7363 yards) from the Tournament tees.
– 5961 meters (6519 yards) from the White tees.
– 4640 meters (5072 yards) from the Red tees

Wairakei International (included in Great Lakes Program)

Wairakei Golf Aerial Image 2Set amidst volcanic landscape, Wairakei International also ranks in the top 100 courses outside US and has had extensive improvements in the last few years. The course is as challenging as any top international golf course in the world and is exciting to play on.

Playing 6460 meters/7064 yards from the blue tees the course rating measures 73.40 and with slope at 130 makes it a clearly challenging yet superb course to play on.

Millbrook (included in Great Lakes Program)

Millbrook GolfLocated in a natural alpine amphitheater against the backdrop of the Remarkables Mountain Range, the 27-hole golf course at Millbrook exploits the dramatic terrain fully, delivering world-class golf.

Designed by renowned professional and master golfer Sir Bob Charles, and renovated by Greg Turner in October 2010 with the addition of the Coronet Nine, this championship course features five different tee positions for complete enjoyment at all levels of playing expertise.

Millbrook’s course is best described as a mix between the world-class immaculately manicured “Parklands” courses and “Links” courses, offering a variety of natural hazards including tussocks, streams, schist stone, trees and buildings.

Jack’s Point (included in Great Lakes Program)

15_wallWith a backdrop of 2300 vertical meters (7,500 feet) of the razorback Remarkables mountain range and an armchair view of an outstanding lake and mountain panorama, Jack’s Point Golf Course is not only one of the most spectacular in the world, but as an 18 hole par 72 championship course, it offers golfers of any caliber a challenging and unforgettable experience.

The course works with nature, not against it. Designed with minimal excavation, the course measures 6388 meters (6906 yards) from the championship tees and is built on the most spectacular of Jack’s Point terrain, weaving through tussock grasslands, dramatic rock outcrops, steep bluffs and swathes of native bush to the edge of Lake Wakatipu.

Kauri Cliffs

Kauri Cliffs - Hole-18 -FairwayThe Kauri Cliffs was designed and built by David Harman. Golf Magazine’s World Top 100 Course Ranking Panel who has compiled a list of the top 50 greatest golf courses of the last 50 years currently ranks the par 72 course PGA 18th Greatest Golf Course in the World.

The Kauri Cliffs, a championship golf course measures 6,510 meters/7,119 yards and offers five sets of tees to challenge every skill level. Fifteen holes view the Pacific Ocean, six of which are played alongside cliffs, which plunge to the sea. The beautiful inland holes wind through marsh, forest and farmland.
Cape Kidnappers

Cape-Kidnappers-Golf-CourseThis exhilarating course is designed by legendary golf architect Tom Doak, the Cape Kidnappers par 71 golf course measures 6,510 meters /7,119 yards and will challenge golfers of all skill levels. Completed in 2004, this spectacular New Zealand golf course has been hailed as one of the great modern marvels in golf.

Cape Kidnappers is located high above the sea on craggy cliffs and is arguably one of the most spectacular sites on the planet. In 2008 it was rated No 1 by the Daily Telegraph and consistently ranks in the Top 100 courses worldwide.

The Hills

The Hills - Club HouseWith only 27 members, The Hills, a privately owned golf course has no parallel fairway and no two holes alike. Set over 500 acres of land across a glacial valley, The Hills is home to an incredible array of flora. Playing here is sure to leave wanting to come back for more almost immediately after you finish your very first round.

You see, dear golfing comrades, we know Pacific Northwest Golf is fantastic. It truly is. And there are so many options for golf trips. Admittedly, we here at Golf Today Northwest have a soft spot for New Zealand especially given our publisher Cameron Healey was born and bred there. We also understand that The Bucket List is personal, but when it comes to The Bucket List, this is no time for mediocre golf or destinations.

*All images courtesy XperieNZ


The Oregon Coast Swing in Fall

By Cliff Cowley

Any Northwesterner will tell you, Oregon in the fall is perfect for post season play. The shoulder season offers cool, crisp mornings and warm afternoons. Indian Summer beckons golfers to get in those last of the season trips before winter puts her clutches on the Great Northwest. The Oregon coast is a golf course mecca, from world renowned links to little known gems. Numerous courses dot the craggy shoreline from sand dune based, gorse covered links, to pine laden tracks. All offer the nuance of still, foggy mornings and occasional windy afternoons with the promise of unique designs to enhance the experience of everyone who plays them. On your next trip to the Oregon coast, make sure you add our “Must Plays” to your itinerary.

Bandon Crossings
bandon crossings 197Bandon Crossings sits on a 340 acre former sheep and cattle ranch. Remnants of the former sheep and cattle ranch still dot the landscape.
Facilities include a comfortable pro shop with all the necessities, an expansive driving range, short game practice facility, and putting green. Carts are available. Some carts even have covers on them for those misty days. Best of all, no caddie needed.

The course itself is built on a natural base of ancient sand dunes with super-natural drainage. The heavy contours and interesting elevation changes of the hills, valleys and mini canyons were virtually untouched by the designer, Dan Hixon.

Lined by a coastal forest of firs, cedars, and madrones, the course plays 6,855 yards from the tips. The natural beauty of the landscape, and no houses, heightens the golf experience. The fairways offer fairly tight lies without giving the feeling of hitting off hard sand and sparse grass. The bent grass greens are soft enough to allow dependable landing shots, yet firm enough to require minimal touch-up. The bunkers use recycled native sand, found on site, during construction of the fairways and greens. With no two holes alike, Bandon Crossings was designed perfectly by nature.

Fall rates with a cart are under $70.

Bandon Crossings offers in-house Stay and Play packages to accommodate everything from a romantic weekend to groups and corporate outings.
Bandon Inn, located in the heart of downtown Old Bandon, offers fine accommodations and packages for Bandon Crossings as well.


Bandon Preserve. Image courtesy Bandon Dunes Resort

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
It’s difficult to believe that Bandon Dunes opened 15 years ago. The course that made the town of Bandon a golf destination, and helped make a sleepy town vibrant and busy, opened in 1999 to unprecedented reviews. Designed by David McLay Kidd, the Dunes course provides sea side vistas, deep bunkering, and tight lies. Every hole, every hazard, and every shot is defined by the natural elements nature provides.

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort offers five distinctly different courses built on a stretch of sand dunes perched above the Pacific Ocean.
Pacific Dunes has a dozen of its 18 holes run along the bluff overlooking twenty-three miles of sweeping, undisturbed shoreline.
Bandon Trails begins on a massive dune, works its way through open meadows and upland forest, and then finishes in the dunes.
Old Macdonald moves through dune to ocean, revealing breathtaking views throughout.

Finally, Bandon Preserve, a thirteen hole 1,468 yard Par 3 mini-course, starts on the land adjacent to the first tee at Bandon Trails and rolls down toward the beach among the coastal forest, dunes and gorse.

Prices vary depending on the season and the package from $70 to $280 per round. Caddies are extra.

Full service restaurants, lounges, golf shops are available on the property. Other amenities include a 32-acre practice center and a one-acre practice putting green and bunker practice area. All courses are walking only.

Sandpines Golf Links
SandpinesNaturally set amidst sand dunes and towering pines, Sandpines Golf Links, is a breathtaking location for coastal golf. Designed by Rees Jones, it offers 18 holes of fine golf near the town of Florence.

At 7,190 yards, the Par 72 course can be a test for scratch golfers. From the tips, the rolling hills and multi-level greens add to the experience and will challenge the discriminating golfer while the front tees, at 5,323 yards, allow an enjoyable experience for mid-level handicap players. Both nines incorporate the rugged landscape that epitomizes the Central Oregon Coast. The outward nine features tall pine and lake side fairways. The inward nine, with its traditional links style, brings golf the way it was in the old country with rolling dunes from tee to green.

Amenities include a fully-equipped practice area with real grass driving range, bunkers and putting greens. The golf shop is open daily and features the latest golf apparel and accessories, and a fully-stocked snack bar. Tavolo Restaurant & Lounge offers tasty appetizers, microbrews and a full bar.

Prices are affordable from $30-$85 depending on the time of day and if you take a cart. The course is walkable.

Sand Pines offers numerous Stay and Play packages to fit families, groups, or corporate get togethers.

Gearhart Golf Links
Gearhart Golf Links hole twoGearhart Golf Links lays claim to being “The oldest golf course west of the Mississippi River.” Golf came to Gearhart in the late 1800’s by way of Scottish visitors to the bustling resort who had experienced the game in Europe. The landscape at Gearhart was strongly reminiscent of the native, ancient courses of St. Andrews and Montrose. Today, Gearhart Golf Links offers 18 holes of spectacular, challenging links-style golf. Golfers can enjoy good playing conditions every round and in every season. The course itself plays 6,429 from the tips and comfortable 5,157 from the forward tees.

Last year’s renovation returned the course to its original Scottish Links style luster. The small fast greens can offer a challenge for anyone, yet the layout is friendly for the whole family. Several holes can be touted as the number one hole on the course. However, any difficulty on the course is easily taken away by the sheer beauty of the course and the friendly, accommodating nature of the employees. According to General Manager Jason Bangild , “Golf is a game; games are supposed to be fun. What you find at Gearhart Golf Links are our ‘Ambassadors of Fun,’ and they’re here to ensure you have a great time, every time.”

The gentle rolling links course is the perfect setting for the unique Scottish feeling McMenamins Sand Trap and Pot Bunker pubs provide featuring fine dining and your favorite beverages.

Prices range from $25 to $75 per round depending on the time of day and season. Gearhart Golf Links also has Stay and Play packages with three Lodging Partners to suit whatever groups you want to put together.

Highlands Golf Club
Highlands1The Highlands is one of the most picturesque 9-hole ocean view golf courses on the Oregon Coast. The Par 31, 1,852 yard course is, literally, right next to the ocean. Open year round, the course meanders through a developed community, but the residences neither detract nor hinder your round. The course features natural rolling terrain, small challenging greens and a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean and Tillamook Head. Arguably, it is one of the best maintained 9 holes in the Northwest. The course is fun and challenging for players of all ability levels, from beginners to the advanced player. The Highlands can be played in under two hours. Keep an eye out for their four-legged friends who make their home in the surrounding woodlands.

After your round, you will enjoy sitting on the patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean while you sample their selection of fine ales and wines, with a cold sandwich or snack. The Highlands is truly a little gem. Rates are super affordable at $16 per nine holes, and an 18 hole twilight rate at the same price. Walking only.
One of the unique aspects to The Highlands Golf Links is they also offer the lowest prices on golf equipment in the US through their DiscountDansGolf.com website. All sales are done in house. Golfers get the best service with free shipping and no sales tax on all the name brands such as Titleist, TaylorMade, Mizuno, Nike, Callaway, and more!

Pacific Gales
Pacific GalesWe would be remiss if we didn’t mention Pacific Gales, the newest pending addition to the Oregon Coast lineup. Not yet open, it has already received rave reviews simply because of its location. It has been said it is “the best piece of golf landscape in North America where both nines finish at the edge of land and sea.” According to a March 6, 2014 blog post on the Pacific Gales website, “…one of the most anticipated golf courses in America cleared a key hurdle Feb. 27 when the Curry County Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the developers’ request for a conditional use permit.” The Pacific Gales development team consists mainly of Jim Haley, Managing Partner, Elk River Property Development, LLC, Dave Esler, Course Designer and Troy Russell, Project Manager. Stay tuned. We will keep you updated on Pacific Gales’ progress as new developments happen.

Come and enjoy the Oregon coast in the fall and winter months. Make it a point to include our Must Plays in your itinerary. Enjoy the Scottish links right in your own back yard.

At a Glance

Bandon Crossings Golf Course
87530 Dew Valley Lane
Bandon, Oregon 97411
Jim Wakeman–Head Pro

Sandpines Golf Links
1201 35th Street
Florence, OR 97439
800-917-GOLF (4653)
Dick Shores–Director of Golf

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
57744 Round Lake Drive
Bandon, OR 97411

Gearhart Golf Links
1157 N. Marion
Gearhart, OR 97138
Head Pro– Zdravko “Z” Barbic

The Highlands Golf Club
33260 Highlands Lane
Gearhart, Oregon 97138
Matt Brown–Head Pro

Portland’s Sah-Hah-Lee Golf Course– Friendly, fun, & affordable

By Kelly LaClaire

Amy Vining Golf Course Pictures 005The Portland area has a multitude of high-end and high-priced courses to choose from, but it can be difficult to find a well-managed, well-manicured course that’s both fun to play and easy on the wallet. So, when Golf Today NW spent an afternoon at Sah-Hah-Lee’s executive course in Clackamas, we knew we had to let our readers know about it as soon as possible.

Sah-Hah-Lee, aside from being a stunningly beautiful course on the banks of the Clackamas River, has a fascinating history and is owned, operated and extremely well maintained by the Lisac family – just about the nicest folks you ever wanted to meet.

Brothers Steve Lisac (acting GM and self-professed “co-owner/janitor”) and Bud Lisac (co-owner and acting Superintendent) began construction on the course after acquiring the land in 1989 from a famous Portland sauerkraut family that had used the fertile ground as a cabbage farm for many years. As you can imagine, this meant that not a single tree could be found on the property.  For the next several months, Bud and Steve put in 300 trees by hand and oversaw every aspect of course landscaping and irrigating themselves.

“Those trees mark the passing of time for us,” says Steve. “Every time I look out over the course and see how big they’ve gotten it makes me think how old I’m getting – either that or I’ve been around here way too long.”

In the summer of 1991, with the help of Steve’s wife, Tracy, who runs the financial side of things, Bud’s wife, Carrie, who runs the Pro-Shop and their son, Nick, who is the head pro, Sah-Hah-Lee opened its first nine holes and haven’t looked back since.

“It felt like the ‘Field of Dreams’ for us as a family. I mean we opened at the perfect time. We built it and people came – the community really embraced our course and really helped us create a wonderful place to enjoy a great round of golf in a pretty amazing setting.”

Their success allowed them to build a back nine and add various amenities:  a full length driving range which happens to be one of the most scenic in the city (the fact that it is wide open and needs no nets is a big plus); a gorgeous outdoor pavilion for tournaments, couples nights and special events; an elevator from the pro shop to the first tee as well as a perfectly delightful (and actually pretty darn challenging) 18 hole putt-putt course.

But the mini-course isn’t all that’s challenging, Sah-Hah-Lee is absolutely the best Par 3 course in the Portland-Metro area and can be very demanding and a terrific opportunity to work on several aspects of the game that many golfers tend to ignore.

As Steve points out, “You only use your driver 12-14 times on an average course. That leaves 60-70 shots with your irons. People want to focus on the long ball but let’s face it, most of your game, and most of your opportunity to sharpen your skills and lower your scores comes from more practice with your mid-range and short shots and this course will make you a better golfer.”

The first several holes make that obvious. Number one has a dramatic tee shot down to the fairway; number two requires a fine touch onto a tiered green; and number three has the psychological demands of having to carry your tee shot over water. There are also a handful of holes right around 200 yards that require skill with long irons and several tricky bunkers as well. Many holes follow along the Clackamas River and more water comes into play once you leave the banks.

Amy Vining Golf Course Pictures 050How are the greens you ask?  In a word – excellent.  Bud and his grounds crew (which includes, Nash Lisac, Steve’s son) take great pride in their work and it shows on every fairway and putting surface.  The attention to detail rivals many of the nicer courses in the area and the course is kept in top playing shape.  The greens are cut well, roll with good speed and lack the bare patches and uneven surfaces of many executive courses.

Sah-Hah-Lee is indeed a first class golf course and has been consistently ranked among the top 100 short courses in the country, but in 1996, it was almost lost.

After several days of hard February rain, the Clackamas River flooded and the entire complex was under water. “We had rapids going across the driving range,” remembers Steve, “and all the greens along the river banks were totally wiped out. It was devastating.  The only good thing was that the flooding occurred in late winter and not spring or we would have gone under-it would have been all over.”

Four days later, the water receded and the Lisac family got to work. “We called everyone we knew. Those were the days before Facebook and Twitter so we spent hours on the phone asking anyone who we thought might help to lend a hand, and we got a tremendous response.” Golfers, community members, family friends, the high school football team and just about everyone else volunteered their time and energy to help clean up acres of mud and silt. A local construction outfit donated a back-hoe for the five greens that had to be completely reconstructed and reseeded. With two months of back breaking work and upwards of half a million dollars spent in renovations, Sah-Hah-Lee was once again up and running and they were able to salvage their season and their course.

“I believe that’s what makes us unique,” says Steve. “We have put an incredible amount of work into our course, especially after the flood, but we have kept our rates at an affordable and very reasonable level. We want everyone to be able to enjoy our course, not just those with plenty of disposable funds.”

That is exactly what the Lisac family has created; a lovely golf facility with a friendly atmosphere, loyal members and a genuinely caring staff that make an afternoon of golf a fun, laid back experience for just about any level of player of any age.

If you’re a Portland area resident or just visiting for a short time, give Sah-Hah-Lee a chance to win you over as they did us. We’re sure you won’t be disappointed.

For more information, please visit www.sah-hah-lee.com

*Images courtesy Sah-Hah-Lee Golf Club

18 of the Best Golf Holes in Whatcom County

By Tony Dear

Our eclectic Whatcom County layout is made up of holes from nine beautiful courses found in Bellingham, Lynden, Custer and Blaine. Apart from North Bellingham GC, which has its own very distinct look, these courses are quintessentially Northwestern, framed by magnificent pines and firs and frequently offering up tremendous views of the Cascades. The hole number corresponds with its number on the actual course. With so many great holes to choose from, it took several tries to find a satisfying blend of beauty, challenge, distance and par. The resulting 6,841-yard par 72 is a course you’d never tire of playing.

1st Dakota Creek               415yds par 4
First-time visitors to Dakota Creek drive up and assume they are about to play a short, sweet and rather straightforward course with no frills but plenty of family-friendly fun.

Then, they play the 1st hole.

Steeply uphill and frighteningly narrow, the hole contradicts everything you thought you knew about such courses. It measures ‘only’ 415 yards but plays nearer 450/460 and, accordingly is rated a par 5 by Pam Smith (formerly Pam Craig) who designed and built the course in 1968 with a “lot of help from people who knew more about that sort of thing.” The hole began life as the 4th but became the 1st in 1970. Smith thought about making two holes out of it, but decided building a new green by the creek that crosses the hole would have compromised the environment. “Hold on to your hats,” she says.
It’s an incredibly tough start, but don’t worry, the course does get a lot friendlier soon after.

2nd North Bellingham     431yds par 4

The 2nd hole at this excellent Ted Locke-designed course, eight miles north of downtown Bellingham, may not be the best hole on the course necessarily, but justifies its place on the list by virtue of the splendid view of Mt Baker. A strong par 4 from the back tees, the 2nd runs due east toward the 10,000ft peak that looks out imperiously over the county. “The 2nd is one of the three holes here without a bunker,” says Head Professional Nathan Vickers. “But it certainly isn’t easy. It’s two good hits for most golfers and the sloping green makes it a tough par. And besides Mt. Baker, you also get a good view of the Canadian Cascades on a clear day.”

3rd Bellingham Golf & Country Club        335yds Par 4
Although a private club, Bellingham G&CC welcomes guests staying at the Chrysalis Inn in nearby Fairhaven, making it a public course for our purposes. Opened in 1913 with nine holes initially (nine more were added in 1925), the course is heavily-wooded and benefitted from a recent bunker renovation. The 3rd is a beautiful downhill par 4 that plunges over a ridge about 210 yards from the tee. Roll to the bottom of the hill and you should have just a sand wedge to the large, undulating green. The 3rd is certainly a good birdie chance, but there’s plenty of trouble waiting for poorly-executed shots.
“You really must keep your drive between the trees,” says head professional Cameron Fife who has been at the club for just seven weeks, replacing long-time pro Mike Montgomery – now the head pro at Sahalee CC. “It’s only a short four,” Fife adds, “but you’re never unhappy with a par.”

4thNorth Bellingham      404yds Par 4

The 4th at North Bellingham is a short-mid par 4 that curls left around a large water hazard, forcing the golfer to make a Cape hole-inspired decision on the tee. How close do you dare getting to the green? The safe route, minimizing the carry, is well out to the right but three bunkers to the right of the fairway catch the careless drive. You should have only a short-iron to the green, but controlling your distance is important. “This is one of the most challenging greens on the course,” says Vickers. “Especially if the pin is on the plateau back left.”

North Bellingham, hole 4

North Bellingham, hole 4

5th Lake Padden                                530yds Par 5

Forty three-year-old Lake Padden is one of the finest municipal courses in the whole of Washington despite being designed by a Washington State University agronomy professor and extension agent. Roy Goss actually had previous experience (Alderbrook, Tumwater Valley) and did a miraculous job salvaging this course from what he basically described as a swamp. “‘It was all wetlands and obviously had drainage issues,” he says. “Anywhere you see a lot of cedars you can be fairly sure the soil will drain badly. Herb Olson, the City’s Parks Director said there wasn’t much money in the budget, and we ended up using much of what we did have covering the place in sand.”

The 5th is the first par 5 and a right-to-left dogleg that moves downhill slightly at about 300 yards before rising again toward the green. Surrounded by a forest of firs, it is a picture postcard of the Pacific Northwest.

Lake Padden Golf Club, hole 5

Lake Padden Golf Club, hole 5

6th Sudden Valley            417yds Par 4
Although the 5th at Sudden Valley, designed by Ted Robinson and opened in 1971, plays directly toward picturesque Lake Whatcom and may attract stronger support from golfers surveyed about their favorite hole, the 6th is actually more exciting. The drive flies over a large, circular water hazard and, as at North Bellingham’s 4th hole, the golfer must decide how much of it he feels capable of crossing. Obviously, the more you successfully carry, the shorter the approach shot will be, but even a good clout off the tee will leave a full-bodied iron shot to the green.

Photo credit: Jim Smithson, Sudden Valley, GC, Hole 6

Photo credit: Jim Smithson, Sudden Valley, GC, Hole 6

7th Sudden Valley            489yds  Par 5

The very next hole at Sudden Valley is the third of a superb run of three holes and a par 5 that can certainly be reached in two but where a badly-timed tee ball might lead to big problems as the fairway bottlenecks at about 250 yards with Austin Creek on the left and a large pond to the right.

The creek then cuts across the fairway just a few yards short of the putting surface so unless you can hit a soaring long iron/hybrid that lands softly, it’s probably best to lay up short of the stream your favorite distance from the hole, and get your birdie the old-fashioned way. As Director of Golf Brian Kruhlak says, bold choices can lead to eagles or birdies at the 7th. “But poor execution will likely result in bogies or ‘others’,” he warns.

8th Bellingham G&CC     210yds Par 3
The first par 3 at Bellingham G&CC, and the first on our eclectic layout, is no cute, downhill short-iron over charming little pond. It’s a stout long iron or hybrid played over mostly flat ground to a tiered green with a large bunker right and swales to the left. “The green is split into two distinct sections,” says Cameron Fife. “There’s a false front which slopes from right to left, and the back runs away from the tee.” Find the middle of the green Fife suggests, and you should ensure a par. Score any lower and you are picking up significant ground on the field. As Fife says, there is no shame in bogeying this hole.

9th Loomis Trail                 382yds par 4

Semiahmoo’s sister course, Loomis Trail, opened in 1993 and was designed by Canadian Graham Cooke. Water comes into play to some degree or other on virtually every hole. At the short par 4 9th, a pond borders the right side of the green while a watery spur cuts in from the right, making the front-right pin position particularly tricky. “A drive toward the bunker on the left sets up the best angle to the green,” says Brett Eaton, the Director of Golf at the Semiahmoo Resort which owns both Semiahmoo and Loomis Trail. “The second shot plays very slightly downhill.  The most prudent play is for the middle of the green to avoid potentially big numbers.”

10th North Bellingham   370yds Par 4
One look says straight, flat, short, par 4.It doesn’t look, or sound, terribly interesting. But play the hole and you’ll surely feel very different.For a start, it usually plays straight into the prevailing south-westerly and, because North Bellingham is so exposed, that wind can have a considerable effect. “Next,” says Nathan Vickers, “there are three good-sized bunkers and water hazards that need to be negotiated in three different places.” Last, miss the elevated green and the up & down is a tough proposition. “This is one of those holes that plays so much harder than the scorecard would have you believe,” says Vickers.

11th Semiahmoo               371yds Par 4

The 11th at Semiahmoo signals the start of a wonderful stretch of five holes that contribute to the course’s lofty ranking in the Evergreen State. The 11th is an exciting short par 4 that might actually be an even better hole from two tees in front of the back markers. At 371 yards, the green at the 11th is out of reach from the tee for everyone except Bubba Watson and friends, so no one in their right mind would dare to take it on. At 316 yards, however, the thought of smacking one over the water and finding the front bunker or even the edge of the putting surface will definitely cross many players’ minds. Increased psychological activity heightens the potential for drama.

Those opting out will take a long iron or hybrid left of the water and hit a short-iron onto the green. It’s less theatrical perhaps, and still no guarantee of a par.

Semiahmoo-Hole1212thSemiahmoo               173yds Par 3
A thrilling, tantalizing, tormenting, inspiring, beauty of a par 3, the 12th plays across the same pond you negotiated at the 11th. Strong players might need as little as a 7-iron to reach the putting surface, but for most a mid/long iron or even a hybrid will be needed to safely cross the hazard. The green is 40 yards deep so you don’t have to hit one of those high, floating Rory McIlroy-type iron shots to stay on the green, but it certainly won’t hurt if you can. Brett Eaton says this is his favorite hole at Semiahmoo. “It’s a great par 3 with Mt. Baker in the background,” he adds. “Take an extra club for the back hole locations. It’s better to be long here than have to reach into the bag for another ball.”

13thBellingham G&CC   165yds Par 3
Some might think this a breather hole, a simple-enough mid/short iron to a large green. But though Angels certainly don’t fear to tread on this beautiful patch of Pacific Northwest ground, the fool will rush in, take the hole lightly and discover a little thought and preparation might have prevented a painful bogey or worse. The green is plenty big enough, but a deep bunker that draws far more tee balls than it should, lurks to the right. As is often the case, aiming for the center of the green is a sensible move but Fife cautions visitors to pay attention when putting as subtle slopes are often the cause of unwanted three-putts.

14th Semiahmoo               415yds Par 4”
The dogleg right 14th at Semiahmoo isn’t terribly difficult, and the drive isn’t terribly memorable. The approach shot to a green set below you though is a wonderful bit of sport that makes this hole one that visitors just love to play.  “Aim your tee shot at the fir atop the mound through the fairway,” says Brett Eaton.  “The green is below you on the approach, so it does play shorter than the yardage suggests. Keep your approach shot below the pin for an easy birdie putt.”

15th Shuksan                       315yds Par 4
Course owner Rick Dvorak got on a dozer while his fellow workers were taking a break and shaped a hole that confuses and confounds those playing it for the first time but, far more often than not, ends up being everyone’s favorite. The left corner of the green is visible from the tee and the temptation to go for it is substantial. It’s certainly on for bigger hitters, but pull or hook it slightly and you can wave goodbye to the ball as it curves dangerously to the left.  Block it right, however, and it’s possible you could catch the right side of the putting surface or, if you really overdo it, the forest to the right of the hole.

It may be wiser to knock a hybrid or long iron into the fairway and hit a wedge up the hill to the large, flat green.

Shuksan Golf Course, hole 15

Shuksan Golf Course, hole 15

16th Shuksan                       422yds  Par 4
A really good driving hole, the 16th starts from an elevated tee and crosses a decline before rising and bending slightly to the right. The left side of the fairway is higher than the right so aim left center, and hopefully your ball will trickle down to the right half from where you will get a better look at the green. Don’t go too far left though, as you will likely leave a blind second down the hill to a wide, shallow green.

17th Loomis Trail               472yds Par 4
The 17th at Loomis Trail may well be the toughest par 4 in the county. The hole bends to the left but a collection of bunkers hamper the drive to the right of the fairway. A creek crosses the hole at about 300 yards so longer hitters may need to throttle back off the tee. A long iron, hybrid or 3-wood second shot into a heart-shaped green needs to avoid a bunker on the left, and trees on the rig…oh you don’t need to hear about them. You’ve enough on your plate already.

18th Homestead Farms  525yds Par 5
A course with as much variety, drama and entertainment as this needs an exhilarating finish, and the 18th at Homestead Farms in Lynden is the ideal closer. The safe drive on this dogleg left heads straight down the fairway avoiding ponds both left and right, but the daring take on the carry over the water on the left shortening the hole considerably and giving them a great chance of getting home in two. And what a second shot it is, played to a green set on an island surrounded on all sides by more water. Good golfers will certainly hope to end the round with a birdie or even an eagle, but the majority of golfers will be pleased to stay dry and walk off with a safe five.

Image courtesy Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism. Homestead Golf Course, hole 18

Image courtesy Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism. Homestead Golf Course, hole 18

Total – 6,841yds Par 72





Welcome to the 2014 Guess the Northwest Course Contest

Cameron Healey

Gamble Sands Golf

Image courtesy Gamble Sands

Who wants to golf Washington State’s newest links course and soon-to-be “Best of” Gamble Sands?  Who doesn’t!  How would you like to tee it up at the new David McLay Kidd-designed Gamble Sands links golf course in Brewster, Washington with three of your favorite golfing partners?  We are giving one lucky reader the chance to do just that, but first, you must demonstrate to us how well you know your Pacific Northwest golf courses. Just like in years past, we don’t expect you to tell us when the golf course opened, or who designed it, or the grass type used to seed the greens! We do, however, invite you to take on the challenge of correctly identifying the 12 featured Northwest golf courses.  All you need to do is match (or guess) the names of each featured golf course with the corresponding photo. Correctly guess the names of the Washington and Oregon golf courses and your name will go into a drawing to win a free foursome from Golf Today Northwest! Yes, the green fees are on us.     Who’s in to win?  Please click the button below to make your guesses, but be sure to have your entry completed by October 17, 2014.   The winner will be notified via email by late October 2014. Get to it and good luck!

Semiahmoo Resort, Golf, and Spa Back in full swing

Semiahmoo Resort, Golf, and Spa located on the idyllic shores of Semiahmoo Bay and Drayton Harbor at the top of Washington State, though secluded, was a popular destination for the better part of 25 years.  With two high quality courses in Semiahmoo and Loomis Trails available for public play, the appeal to regional (and Canadian) tourists, golfers, wedding and conference planners was high. However, when the 198 room Semiahmoo Resort fell victim to a sluggish economic recovery and closed its doors in December 2012, the notion that it would again open under new ownership within a year was, frankly, an unlikely proposition. Fast forward to 2014 with new owners Resort Semiahmoo and Wright Hotels, and Coastal Hotel Group, a Seattle area hospitality-management company charged with managing the Resort and its golf courses, it was time for me to get reacquainted with one of my personal favorite Northwest getaway destinations, not only to play a little golf but to also find out what all the hype is about with FootGolf, the new hybrid version of the game now available for play at Semiahmoo’s two golf courses.

Benefiting from a multi-million dollar renovation that included upgrades to the hotel lobby, guest rooms with new luxury bedding and flat screen TVs, Spa and health and fitness facilities, and restaurants, the Resort opened to the public in August 2013.

The week that we visited, the Resort was plenty busy with the car park jam packed and hotel lobby abuzz with activity. The accommodations with the new upgrades proved both comfortable and well appointed. The views of Semiahmoo Bay with White Rock in the distance were, well, terrific as expected, but it was Semiahmoo’s bar and restaurants that proved the most impressive.  Starting with the charming Packers Oyster Bar located on the waterfront offering guests a relaxing respite surrounded by leather armchairs, distressed wood bar, and incredible black walnut floors. Armed with a pint of the Leavenworth “Whistlin’ Pig” Hefeweizen while smacking down on some oysters in the half-shell and peering out into the bay, we almost missed our FootGolf tee-time!

About that FootGolf. True dat! In fact, kicking a soccer ball down the fairway, while initially an odd concept to get my head around, quickly proved a barrel of fun as we  attempted to kick a regulation sized soccer ball into each of the 18 holes and their corresponding 21 inch cups in fewer strokes (kicks) than the par 36, 1124 yard course suggests. The bottom line is FootGolf, at least for this traditional golfer, is an absolute blast and a terrific activity to engage the whole family. In fact, we had a couple of families playing behind us obviously enjoying the experience—and exercise. What a way to spend a summer evening! The FootGolf program will be available every Friday and Saturday evening this summer from 6 p.m. to dusk.  The rate to play FootGolf at the Semiahmoo Resort, Golf & Spa courses will be $10 for nine holes ($8 for juniors) and $16 for 18 holes ($12 for juniors), as well a $3 soccer ball rental fee. Proper golf course attire and footwear is required.

Post-FootGolf it was time to head back to the Resort and dine at the bright and airy Pierside Kitchen for dinner. First impressions of this restaurant were of the harbor views and nautical themed weathered and white washed wood walls and open beamed ceilings, subtle lighting fixtures, and a diverse menu created with local and regional food producers in mind. The service was polished and attentive and despite a full house, the food arrived without delay. With the sun setting over the water, the ambiance was really quite special and the pairing of the Wood-Fired Halibut and glass (or two) of Ste. Michelle Winery’s 2012 ‘Indian Wells’, Chardonnay topped off a very pleasurable dining experience.

Of course, we couldn’t conclude our Semiahmoo experience without taking in an early morning round at the Arnold Palmer-designed Semiahmoo Golf & Country Club, not surprisingly rated Washington’s #7 public golf course by Golfweek in2012. What I enjoy about this Palmer design is what you see if what you get with rolling fairways and generous landing areas. Where Palmer likes to “get ya” is with his green complexes: firm, fast, and with subtle undulations that will truly test your flat stick skills. The 7,005-yard Semiahmoo is open to the public on odd days of the month and is worth every penny! Of course, if time and circumstance permit, you must follow up a round at Semiahmoo with a round at the nearby Graham Cooke-designed Loomis Trail Golf Club, also ranked among the top courses in 2014 by Golfweek. If you’re a fan of forced carries and water on every hole, you’ll love Loomis. What a quinella of golf on offer and with the Resort back in full swing, the value and quality of your next visit to Semiahmoo is a sure bet!

Please visit www.semiahmoo.com for more information or to book your next fall Stay and Play Package!

David McLay Kidd’s Gamble Sands Revealed

Gamble Sands Golf


By Tony Dear

Washington’s newest adventure opens to the public on August 2nd and we think you’re going to love it. Through the worst of the economic downturn, golfers despaired that Gamble Sands would ever be finished. But now, six years after c first set eyes on the wild, sandy, expansive site high above the Columbia River a few miles east of Brewster, it opens to an audience becoming a little spoiled on good golf.

In recent years, Washington has added Chambers Bay, Salish Cliffs, Wine Valley, White Horse, Palouse Ridge, the Home Course, Prospector and Rope Rider to its inventory, and Gamble Sands is set to join them on the state’s ‘Best of…’ lists.

Kidd says his priority at Gamble Sands was to design a playable course, one on which every single golfer, regardless of his or her skill level, could match or beat their handicap while enjoying amazing views over the desolate but mesmerizing landscape. You won’t spend your precious time here looking for wayward shots. Instead you’ll have tremendous fun playing the ground game, putting from well off the green, working out the angles, aiming 30 yards right of the flag and watching the ball pitch then curl round toward the hole, waiting 10 extra seconds for your ball to come to a complete halt, putting on supremely smooth greens, and hitting off beautifully crisp turf maintained by superintendent Chip Caswell.
Here’s a guide to all 18 holes with comments from Kidd on his thinking behind each hole, and Dave Christenson, the course’s General Manager, on how to play them.

1st - 285-422 yards, Par 4
The 1st at Gamble Sands is what every opening hole should be – a fairly gentle introduction that won’t intimidate anyone and builds anticipation for what is to come. A generous fairway with a slight bend to the left reveals a large green that slopes from back to front. Large bunkers that frame the hole on either side shouldn’t really come into play.
Kidd: We had a long ridge ending in a perfect green site that allowed us to easily create a right to left dogleg with a beautiful green complex that gathers the ball from either side making for an easy par opening hole.

Christenson: Swing freely and favor the right side with a drive or fairway wood. This will leave you a short approach and the best angle into the green.

2nd – 188-301 yards, Par 4
From the elevated tee enjoy the superb view west over the Columbia River and further west to the Cascades. The 2nd is a short, driveable par 4 from most of the tees that will be many people’s favorite hole. A large bunker sits in the middle of the fairway 50 yards short of a green which slopes predominantly from right to left. A huge greenside bunker on the left is definitely in play for those taking on the green from the tee
Kidd: Originally we planned this as a par 3, but ultimately we decided a driveable par 4 was more thrilling. Maybe the cover-girl hole.

Christenson: Feeling confident, take driver at the green aiming slightly right.  More conservative play is out right with a long iron over fairway bunker.

3rd – 464-633 yards, Par 5
The par 5 3rd is the longest hole on the course and begins with what looks like a fairly daunting carry over a long, rising, diagonally-oriented stretch of sand and scrub. But play from the appropriate tee and don’t take on a carry you can’t handle, and you’ll safely drop your ball on another generous fairway.
This is a three-shot hole, so bunt a hybrid safely up the fairway then pitch over the bunker short of the green to set up a birdie putt.
Kidd: Having played lots of golf in Ireland, I knew how much fun a blind shot up and over a ridge can be. And here at the 3rd, we could make a very dramatic tee shot.
Use the white rock as the aiming point off the tee. A huge fairway awaits. Check the wind as this will influence how much of the bunker you can bite off from the tee.

4th – 112-166 yards, Par 3
The first par 3 features a long stretch of sand down the right side, but the smaller, deeper bunker on the left is the far more insidious of the two hazards and should be avoided. The hole moves downhill so a poorly-hit iron might possibly squirm its way to the front edge, but only a well-struck and well-directed shot will put you within birdie range on a wavy, heaving green where three putts will be far more common than one.
Kidd: We started this one thinking about the famed Biarritz hole but it took its own form as the shaping developed. The huge bunker right side was as much about opening up the view as it was guarding the green.
Safe play is left short and ball will feed on to green. Back pin may require a well struck short iron to front of green that will feed back to pin.

5th – 392-517, Par 4
This is a wonderfully natural hole with an amazingly-sited green that is considerably easier to hit from the left side of the fairway. The fairway slopes from left to right however, meaning that unless you draw or hook one into the slope to minimize the drop to the right, you will likely be faced with a tough uphill approach over another long, diagonal stretch of sand. And because the green is set at an angle to the fairway, the approach from the right will need to come in high to hold the putting surface.
You’re not dead from the right side of the fairway by any means – you’ll very rarely be left with no options on this course – but you will be doing yourself a big favor if you approach the green from the left.
Kidd: An incredibly dramatic landscape opened up here playing along the edge of a huge dry canyon edge to a peninsula tucked behind a hillock. We opened up huge ridges of open sand.
Aim driver at right side of fairway bunker on the left for the best entry into the green. Don’t go long. Par is a good score.

6th – 105-265 yards, Par 3
A far sterner par 3 than the 4th, the beautiful 6th plays downhill to a wickedly sloping green. The ground slopes sharply down to the putting surface from the right, so even a bad push or slice off the tee might find the green.
Kidd: The huge, dry canyon that bisects the entire course could only be crossed at two points and the first crossing comes here. Our initial thought was to put the green on the otherwise of the canyon and play across it, but that seemed too obvious and I hate doing the obvious.
Christenson: Play short left of the green with one less club than yardage suggests. Natural slope will move ball toward the hole. You’ll lose sight of it for a moment but will be pleased with the result.

7th – 344-514 yards, Par 5
A wonderful left-to-right par 5 with a cape-hole decision to make on the tee – where to aim the tee shot and how much sand to carry. A smaller bunker in the fairway also needs to be sidestepped. Once safely on the fairway the hole slopes uphill slightly, but a low running hybrid/long iron should see you home.
Kidd: We exposed lots of sand on the inside edge of the dogleg making an aggressive tee shot very dangerous or very rewarding. A perfect green-site that provides the opportunity for a running approach, and with a great natural backboard.
Christenson: Safe play is at small fairway bunker – ball will move significantly right when landing.  Second shot is slightly uphill and no trouble long so be sure and take one extra club.

8th  – 214-313 yards, Par 4
Another of Gamble Sands’s great short par 4s, the 8th is easy, dangerous, fun, confounding, straightforward and bewildering all at the same time. Three diagonally-set fairway bunkers give the hole its distinctive look, but shouldn’t be a problem for golfers who spend a few extra seconds on the tee carefully considering their optimal route. Ignore the bunkers and head right and the second shot will be trickier than if you aim left and carry the sand.
Kidd: This was a tricky piece of the site. The land ahead of the natural tee gently fell away making it blind. We decided not to cut away the ground and leave it as a partially blind, almost driveable par 4 inspired by a hole at Kapalua by Coore & Crenshaw.
Christenson: The bunkers make this a split fairway. Left side leaves best angle into green. Take the right and you’ll probably leave a blind second.  Good chance at birdie here, but don’t go long.

9th – 296-429 yards, Par 4
9th(1)An uphill par 4 that bends left to right, the 9th hole should provide a gentle close to the front nine, provided you avoid the large bunkers on either side of the fairway. A good short-iron approach will give you a good chance of making three, but be careful not to go long and leave yourself a potentially nasty chip or putt back down the hill.
Kidd: This one was an easy find as the fairway plays across the edge of a bluff. A natural gulch in the bluff edge was used to push the hole left to right. The greensite was a natural bench with a huge slope behind it.
Safe play is a fairway wood out left. Boomers pick your line carefully as bunker guards right side.
10th – 81-155 yards, Par 3
The third of the par 3s and another absolute gem. Again downhill and again possessing a large expanse of sand to the right of the green, the 10th demands a lofted, soft-landing iron shot if you are to set up a birdie chance.  The green slopes all over the place, so the closer you can put your tee shot to the hole the better.
Kidd: We had a beautiful bowl here. It looked like a huge sand crater, and a short par 3 was obvious. We exposed a lot of sand in the base of the bowl and created a huge green with a lot of contour.
Use outward slopes to you advantage in navigating ball close to pin.

11th – 324-426 yards, Par 4
A right-to-left dogleg par 4 with a bunker in the center right of the fairway definitely threatens the drive. The best option off the tee might actually be to aim directly at the sand and let the ball drift right, although there is more room to the left. The putting surface is one of the course’s flattest which gives a sort of infinity edge look to the approach shot. Just trust your yardage, and steer well clear of the large bunker just short of the green.
Kidd: Our first visit didn’t reveal an obvious hole here, and we had to think hard for a while. In the end, a long par 4, played diagonally into a wide fairway, was the answer. The intimidating tee shot didn’t please us though, so we kept making the fairway wider to the left.
Big hitters can carry fairway bunker and be left with a short approach to a relatively unprotected green.

12th – 189-333 yards, Par 4
The third and final driveable par 4 on the course, the 12th demands a little consideration on the tee. Do you take a driver and go for it, or lay up left of the huge bunker on the right and short of another huge bunker further up the hole on the left? If you do go for it, a slight push won’t hurt you as the ball could feed down to the narrow green from the right.
Kidd: I love to tease golfers, but I also love to make them decide between all-in or complete layup. Nothing in-between. This one does that. A deep receptive shelf allowed us to tempt the bomber to push it up the right and feed the ball to the green.
Play drive over fairway bunker right and the ball will feed left on landing and should get close or be on the green. Safe play is down the middle with a long iron or fairway wood. Long green so check pin location as there may be a difference of 1-2 clubs here.

13th – 411-562 yards, Par 5
A left to right-bending par 5 that will be a three-shot hole for the vast majority of players. Skirt the large bunker on the right side of the fairway, bump a fairway wood or hybrid up the left side and you’ll leave a pitch over a sizeable mound/bunker 20-30 yards short and right of a very large, narrow, undulating green.
Kidd: A
natural corridor was perfect for a par 5, but a ridge directly across the fairway just short of the green was a challenge. Pushing the sand away would have been easy, but we showed restraint and decided to leave it, so the green is completely blind but has no bunkers and gathers from every side. We will see how US golfers respond to this feature which is common in the UK.
Wind will influence your aim point from the tee. If benign, take it over middle of right fairway bunker. Ball will kick forward on down slope and leave long iron into blind green. Play safe to the left of the bunker, and continue down left side for easy par.

14th – 255-437 yards, Par 4
14th(1)The split fairway on this long par 4 gives the hole a memorable look, but only a select group of power hitters should give the left fairway a second look. The right side is plenty wide and though it does leave a tougher second shot over a large front bunker, it will at least give you a chance of making four. Don’t worry if you don’t though, card a five and you won’t lose much ground to the field, if any.
Kidd: The canyon that bisects the course (see 6th hole) starts here and we decided to use it to spilt the fairway.
Check the wind and your confidence. If playing well and hole is downwind take on the left fairway. Otherwise stay right. Long much better than short on approach.

15th – 278-467 yards, Par 4
One of the few narrow-ish fairways where teeing it high, aiming any old place, and giving it a rip definitely won’t work. There’s a large sandy area cutting in from the left, and the scrub on the right seems dangerously close. Commit to a club and a line and you should leave a fairly straightforward short iron to the green.
Kidd: In our original routing, the 15th and 16th fit where 15 now lies. But Casey (see below) discovered the Par 3 16th late in the day, so the 15th became a fairly long par 4.
Carry right fairway bunker for best approach angle. Long approach is okay. Par a good score here.

16th – 141-225 yards, Par 3
16th(3)The final par 3 was discovered late in the design process by Kidd’s associate Casey Krahenbuhl with input from Tory Wulf, a member of the ownership family and the project manager. Another huge, roly-poly green funnels balls towards the center, especially from the right and long.
Kidd: This hole might never have been found if Casey hadn’t gone walkabout one more time. A massive backboard can be used to roll a ball back to a lower pin, the high right side of the green is semi blind and in a bowl.
Never a bad play to go slightly long and watch the ball roll back toward the pin.

17th – 342-428 yards, Par 4
A long-ish, straight-ish par 4 that plays slightly uphill. Sand and scrub all the way down the right and a large sandy area that cuts in from the left frame the drive, while a large bunker short and left of the green dominates the approach. It’s a tough hole certainly, but nothing that two solid shots can’t overcome.
Kidd: As a scot who loves matchplay, I figure most matches finish on 15/16/17 so that’s why these holes offer big rewards for big risks. The 17th requires the bravest of drives to an elevated ridge to set up any chance of a birdie.
Wind can be huge factor here. Play safe out to the left or take on a longer carry over the sandy area which borders the entire right side. Avoid bunker short left of green at all costs.

18th – 376-566 yards, Par 5
A downhill par 5 with a speed slot at average driving distance that should give your tee shot a boost and make the green very reachable. Though you’ll need to negotiate a centrally-positioned bunker 40/50 yards short of the green, if you do find the wide fairway from the tee you’ll be disappointed if you don’t finish your round with a birdie. A four will make that first pint in the simple, elegant clubhouse (modeled on a Bend, OR brewery) taste all the colder/sweeter/more refreshing, but don’t linger in the clubhouse too long. If there’s any daylight left get out and play these wonderful holes again.
Kidd: From atop the same ridge that 17 plays along we set up a breathtaking overview of the Columbia and mountains beyond. First and last impressions matter, and here we had a great opportunity to lay out a memorable vista from the final tee.
Enjoy the view and swing with confidence.  A drive center left is perfect and will catch natural slope for additional yardage.  Mid-to-long iron left for a chance at eagle or a sure birdie.

The final word goes to Kidd: We thought a lot about what we don’t like about golf and golf courses – stuffiness, inconvenience, lack of atmosphere, complexity, grandeur, ostentatiousness, etc. and we made sure Gamble Sands would be intimate, easy, relaxed, humble and, most of all, fun.

For more information, visit www.gamblesands.com

*photos courtesy Tony Dear


2014 Boeing Classic: 10 Year Anniversary

18 Wide Shot

By Tony Dear

The 2014 event marks the tenth playing of the Boeing Classic, Washington’s only annual major professional tournament and one that has grown immensely popular with players and fans since it was first contested in 2005. After starting life as the Greater Seattle Champions Classic then becoming the Boeing Greater Seattle Classic two months before its debut when the home-city aircraft manufacturer signed on as title sponsor, the event changed its name once more – to the Boeing Classic – in 2007 when it was first recognized by the Champions Tour at its end-of-year awards ceremony. That year, the tournament won the Outstanding Achievement Award and, it rose to the pinnacle of Champions Tour events three years later, winning the prestigious Presidents Award, given to what is considered the very best tournament on the schedule.

Since then, the Boeing Classic has won the Players Award (2011) and two Tournament Business Affairs Awards (2012, 2013), which tournament director Michelle DeLancy says “specifically acknowledges (the tournament’s) efforts to engage and encourage the involvement of the community we are proud to be a part of.”

This year, the Boeing Classic will surely pass the $5 million mark in charitable donations, money that benefits the Heart Institute at Virginia Mason, the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, the First Tee of Greater Seattle, and other local non-profit organizations. Ninety thousand golf fans, or thereabouts, are expected to line the fairways and fill the grandstands at the TPC Snoqualmie Ridge during tournament week, and over 1,000 volunteers will help ensure another successful show.

To get you in the mood for this year’s Boeing Classic, here’s a look back at the first nine.

Boeing Classic 2005-2014
2005 David Eger
David Eger, a former golf administrator with two stints at the PGA Tour (1982-‘92 and ’95-’96) and one at the USGA (’92-’95) where he was Senior Director of Rules and Competition, won the inaugural Boeing Greater Seattle Classic with a 54-hole total of 17-under 199. With rounds of 68, 64 and 67, Eger won by three from Tom Kite to earn the $240,000 first place check and his second Champions Tour title (he now has four).




2006 Tom Kite
Kite went one better 12 months later winning his first Boeing Classic title after beating Keith Fergus with a birdie at the first extra hole. The pair had tied on 15-under 201 after breaking free from a seven-man tie at the top during the back nine. Fergus shot 64 to earn his spot in the playoff but Tom Jenkins had gone three better, matching Scott Simpson’s one-day-old course record of 61. On the par 5 18th in the playoff, Kite was bunkered after two but got up and down for a birdie while Fergus’s second found a tricky lie to the right of the green after being caught by a fan in his hat. The best he could manage was a six.

2007 Denis Watson
The fun and games continued in 2007 when seven players – Craig Stadler, Dana Quigley, Joe Ozaki, Gil Morgan, Eger, RW Eaks, and Zimbabwe’s Denis Watson – were all tied on nine-under 207 at the end of regulation play. On the first playoff hole (the 18th), only Eaks, Stadler and Watson managed a birdie four, Watson thanks to a chip-in from off the green. On the second go-round, all three remaining players reached the green in two, but only Watson holed his eagle putt. It was the second of his four Champions Tour wins.





Book and Albums
After, what was for him, an inadequate showing in 2007 when he finished tied for 38th on one-under-par, Tom Kite reaffirmed his affinity for Snoqualmie Ridge in 2008 when he claimed his second Boeing Classic title and third top-two finish in four years. With a final-round 66, the Texan overtook second-round leader Scott Simpson to win by two on 14-under 202. It was the first time Kite had won since his previous Boeing Classic victory – a span of 56 tournaments. Kite won his 10th and final Champions Tour title and the last of his 38 career victories as a professional.

Eye in the Sky Photography
Loren Roberts birdied the last two holes to snatch the title away from Mark O’Meara, shooting a final-round 65 and setting a new tournament record of 18-under 198. Roberts and O’Meara turned the back nine into a two-man duel. O’Meara birdied the 17th, but Roberts followed him in when his 5-iron caught the slope and curled the ball down to within five feet of the treacherous back-left pin. O’Meara could only par the final hole, but Roberts made his winning birdie when he pitched to two feet and rolled in the putt. It was the eleventh of Roberts’ 13 Champions Tour wins.  For O’Meara, it was the eighth runner-up finish of his Champions Tour career. He would eventually win his first over-50s tournament at his 58th attempt – the 2010 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf alongside partner Nick Price.


Boeing ClassicA month after winning the US Senior Open at Sahalee CC in Sammamish, Bernhard Langer matched Loren Robert’s record 54-hole total from the previous year with rounds of 66, 63 and 69. The German beat Nick Price by three shots and won his fifth Champions Tour title of the 2010 season.  He has now won 21 times on the seniors tour, and a total of 93 tournaments in an amazing career.
Local favorite Fred Couples made his Boeing Classic debut finishing third on nine-under 207 with rounds of 68, 72 and 67.




All images ©Kene Sperry
After 13 wins on the PGA Tour, Mark Calcavecchia won for the first time on the Champions Tour when he birdied the first extra hole in a playoff against Russ Cochran. The two had finished on 14-under 202, five shots clear of Chip Beck in third. Calcavecchia birdied the final three holes in regulation to get to -14, but Cochran joined him on that total with an eagle three at the 54th hole.  Calcavecchia two-putted for a winning birdie at the first extra hole to extract some revenge on Cochran who had beaten him by two shots at the Senior British Open just a month before. In an August 2012 interview with this magazine, Calcavecchia said the Boeing Classic was a ‘big win’ for him, and that he played just about as well as he had in his entire career.

Tied 16th on one-under 215 after rounds of 73, 69 and 73.


2012 Jay Don Blake 3Jay Don Blake beat the hapless Mark O’Meara at the second extra hole to win his third Champions Tour event. After finishing regulation play tied at ten-under 206, Blake and O’Meara halved the first playoff hole with fives after O’Meara missed an eight-footer for the win. On their third trip of the day up the 18th hole, both missed the green with their second shots but Blake was able to get up and down for birdie. O’Meara, meanwhile, could do no better than five.
Forced to withdraw after playing just one shot when his perennially bad back started playing up again.

The virtually unknown John Riegger won in just his fifth Champions Tour start having turned 50 only two months before. Riegger, from Illinois, managed just three top-ten finishes in 230 career PGA Tour starts so surprised everyone by holding off John Cook, Fred Couples, Tom Lehman and Bernhard Langer to win by two. Riegger finished on 15-under 201 after rounds of 69, 64 and 68.
Third on 11-under 205 with rounds of 69, 70 and 66.

Five Players to Watch
The field for the 2014 Boeing Classic won’t be finalized until approx: 5pm the Friday before tournament week (August 8th), but the following five players are expected to play.

Fred Couples
Toshiba Classic - Round Three
How could you go to the Boeing Classic and not watch Freddie? He’s Seattle’s own golfing superstar, a former world number one, a two-time PGA Tour Player of the Year, a four-time winner of the World Cup (with Davis Love), a five-time Ryder Cupper, a three-time Presidents Cup-winning Captain, and now a Hall of Famer. He has won a total of 62 professional tournaments including the 1984 and 1996 Players Championships and 1992 Masters. He has ten wins on the Champions Tour including two senior majors – the 2011 Senior Players Championship and 2012 Senior Open Championship. Couples has two third places finishes in three appearances at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge (it would be four but he withdrew early in 2012). Time he finally won it.

Colin Montgomerie
Boeing Classic 2013The Scotsman never did enjoy much luck on the regular PGA Tour, but since joining the Champions Tour in June 2013 he has blossomed rather, finishing in the top ten 12 times in 21 tournaments and winning two majors – May’s Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Michigan, and the US Senior Open at Oak Tree National in Oklahoma two weeks ago when he beat Gene Sauers in a playoff. Like Couples, Monty is a Hall of Fame member having won the European Order of Merit title seven years in a row (1993-’99), and winning 43 times around the world.

Bernhard Langer
The 2010 Boeing Classic champion is worth watching not only for the quality of his golf, but also because he is a wonderful role-model for kids. Quiet, humble, generous and hard-working, the 56-year-old German turned pro in 1972 and has amassed 93 professional victories. Another Hall of Famer, Langer joined golf’s immortals in 2002.

Hale Irwin
Though the date on his birth certificate suggests he might be getting on a bit, watching Hale Irwin play golf never gets old. The 69-year-old, three-time US Open champion was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992, and it is remarkable how well he strikes the ball, averaging well over 250 yards off the tee and hitting nearly 80 percent of fairways. With 45 Champions Tour victories to his name and over $26m in earnings, Irwin is by far the most successful senior golfer of all time, his last win coming at the 2007 MasterCard Championship at Hualalai in Hawaii.

Rick Fehr
Fehr may not have had the sort of Hall of Fame career that Couples, Montgomerie, Langer, and Irwin put together, but he’s a local boy so get out there and cheer him on. The Seattle native won over $4m in a PGA Tour career that began in 1985 and petered out in 2001/2002. He won twice in that time (1986 BC Open, 1994 Walt Disney/Oldsmobile Classic) and recorded nine runner-up finishes. Since turning 50 at the end of August in 2012, Fehr has battled injury but has played a total of 26 Champions Tour events. He has yet to record a top-ten finish, however. Wouldn’t it be great if he could put that right at Snoqualmie Ridge?

Three Most Pivotal Holes
448 yards, Par 4
second to bottom in 1
Known as Bear’s Canyon, the 14th is one of the most exciting holes on the Champions Tour, tempting competitors to go for the green 80ft below and at the end of a horseshoe-shaped fairway. The carry from the back tee to the front of the green is 293 yards which explains why only four players went for it in the first round last year when the hole played its full length. Eleven attempted it in the second round when the tee was pushed forward, but only six players recorded birdies, while one made a triple-bogey. On Sunday when the tee was set at 410 yards, 29 gambled and 11 made birdie while Kenny Perry made an eagle two, keeping alive a streak of nine straight years in which at least one eagle was made on the hole. Canyon Club ticket holders (see below for ticket prices) get a great view of the action and half off beer when someone makes a birdie!
17th  – 211 yards, Par 3
The par 3 holes at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge usually rank among the toughest half-dozen or so every year, and the 211-yard 17th over a pond to a wide, shallow green with a distinct step in the middle may be the hardest of the lot. Indeed, with an average of 3.28, it played the toughest hole last year yielding a total of only 22 birdies over the three rounds.
18th - 498 yards, Par 5
A par five of 498 yards should represent a golden opportunity for birdie or eagle to players of this caliber, but when the holes plays significantly uphill and is threatened by 16 deep bunkers, it is anything but a pushover. Seven of the bunkers need to be avoided off the tee to leave any sort of chance of reaching the green in two, and five more lie in wait for any approach shot that flies even slightly off line.
The undulating green is 31 yards from front to back and surrounded by a natural amphitheater on which 20,000+ fans will cheer home this year’s winner.

August 4th, 2pm – Snoqualmie Showdown

The official countdown to the 2014 Boeing Classic actually begins 18 days before the first drive is struck when four of Seattle biggest names tee it up at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge to raise funds for local charities. Fred Couples will join former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in a fourball match against former UW football coach Rick Neuheisel and 950 KJR AM morning host Mitch Levy in front of just 500 ticketholders. Be sure to get your tickets ($100 each) by visiting the Boeing Classic.

Monday, August 18th
8.30am Seahawks Rumble at the Ridge
2pm Champions Tour pros practice rounds

Tuesday, August 19th
8am-5pm Executive Women’s Day TPC Clubhouse
12pm Emirates Youth Clinic at the TPC Driving Range
1pm-5pm Adaptive Golf Clinic TPC Alternate Driving Range
All Day practice rounds

Wednesday, August 20th
7.45am Korean Air Pro-am day one morning shotgun
1.30pm Korean Airlines Pro-am afternoon shotgun

Thursday, August 21st
7.45am Korean Air Pro-am day two morning shotgun
1.30 Korean Airlines Pro-am afternoon shotgun

Friday, August 22nd
11.20am Boeing flyover
11.30am Round one begins

Saturday, August 23rd
Family Day
9am Round two begins
3.30pm-6.30pm Golf Channel telecast

Sunday, August 24th
Military Appreciation Day
9am Round three begins
5pm 18th green ceremony
4pm-6.30pm Golf Channel telecast

TPC Snoqualmie Ridge is located 26.5 miles east of downtown Seattle off I-90. Take exit 25 (WA-18) toward Snoqualmie Parkway. Proceed onto Echo Glen Parkway which becomes Snoqualmie Parkway. Turn left onto Fairway Ave SE, then right onto SE Ridge St. Travel time from downtown Seattle is estimated at 31 minutes.

TV Times
Friday, August 22nd – 3.30pm-5.30pm Golf Channel
Saturday, August 23rd – 3.30pm-6.30pm Golf Channel
Sunday, August 24th – 4pm-6.30pm Golf Channel


General Admission
Single Day – $20 (advance), $25 (gate)
Tournament pass – $40 (advance), $50 (gate)
Week pass – $60 (advance only)
50% discount for seniors (60+)

Canyon Club
General admission and one-day Canyon Club Party Pass – $35 advance, $40 gate
Tournament Pass and three-day CCPP $85 advance, $110 gate
One-day CCPP (available Fri, Sat, Sun) $15 advance, $20 gate

ANA Dreamliner Lounge
All-inclusive hospitality unit overlooking the 18th green. Food provided by El Gaucho Steakhouse, indoor and outdoor seating, HDTV screens.
Individual ticket $350

Best Viewing

1st tee – The downhill 554-yard opening hole is actually one of the easiest on the course. It’s a great place to see the Boeing flyover and see each player introduced before he starts his round. See if the competitors can thread the needle between the fairway bunkers about 260 yards off the tee.

9th green – The 207-yard 9th is a potentially perilous par 3 with a 196-yard carry over water from the back tee. The ground beyond the green is raised slightly making it easy for spectators to share the players’ joy or grief as they make it to dry land or sink to the bottom of Eagle Lake.

14th tee – This hole will surely be the scene of some of the week’s greatest drama with players taking on the huge carry over the tree-filled canyon. To make it to the other side then stop the ball on the green before it bounds over the back and into trouble requires a combination of power and a high, soft-landing ball flight that only the very best golfers can generate.

17th green – Spectators to the right of this hole will get a great view of shots as they approach the green over the pond and hopefully settle on the correct level of the two-tiered putting surface. On Sunday, see if players can get to the back left pin by hitting a draw that catches the slope and trundles down towards the hole.

18th green – With the skyboxes and natural grass amphitheater that surrounds the final green, the atmosphere on Sunday afternoon as the tournament draws to a close is electric, and it’s a spectator view that has been voted ‘Best View from a Clubhouse’ by the Champions Tour. Video screens 15’x35’ keep the gallery up to date with what’s happening on the leaderboard.

Steppe Right Up: Central Oregon Golf Beckons

By Tony Dear

Each sport’s playing arenas tend to be generic with little to distinguish one pitch, field, diamond or court from another. Every football field is flat and has the same dimensions as the next. Same with basketball courts and tennis courts. The surfaces may be different – grass, clay, synthetic, maple, acrylic, etc. but that’s where the differences begin and end. Soccer pitches and baseball fields are also flat and, though not exactly the same dimensions as each other (there is no standard size for a soccer pitch or baseball field), as similar in length and width as makes no difference.
Golfers play a sport so singular in so many ways. The game’s etiquette marks it out as special, but so too does the immense variety in its playing arenas. Golf courses are so vastly different from one another they add intrigue and curiosity to every round we play. Long, short, undulating, flat, green, brown, firm, soft, difficult, straightforward, bordered by forests, bordered by oceans, clifftop, parkland, meadowland, heathland, downland, prairie, desert – the assortment of challenges and vistas is intoxicating.
Naturally, every golfer has a ‘type’ of course he prefers. Like many others, I enjoy the game best beside the seaside on firm, sandy turf and with a decent breeze in the air. But if I can’t be on the coast, give me the firm, sandy turf of the high desert – specifically Central Oregon’s high desert – instead.
Central Oregon – a region traditionally made up of Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook counties, but for our purposes the area around and between the cities of Bend, Sisters, Redmond, Prineville, and La Pine – sits roughly 4,000ft above sea level and is almost as perfectly-suited to golf as the linksland of Britain and Ireland. The only thing it lacks really is a steady 15-20mph breeze that, on occasion, turns into a 40mph hooley. Otherwise, the firm turf, interesting undulations, terrific scenery, and scant, low-lying vegetation are all present and correct. Indeed, everything looks right, smells right, and, when you make crisp, ball-before-turf contact, it most definitely feels right.
The look includes the distant Cascade Mountains – Bachelor, Washington, Jefferson, Broken Top, and the Three Sisters – and a vast shrub-steppe that extends east further than the eye can see. The smell, meanwhile, is an invigorating mix of clean, fresh air, juniper, and sage wafting in from the countless Artemisia Nova (black sagebrush) bushes that almost blanket the ground. It’s a heady assembly of sensory triggers, but what really makes this prime golfing territory are beautiful lies on emerald fairways that give order, in the golfer’s mind anyway, to the random, rugged disorder of the landscape.
Take the Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn. In amongst all that seemingly untidy and unruly flora are 18 sublime golf holes that make up what is surely one of the Golden Bear’s finest creations. Opened in 2006, Pronghorn started life as a highly exclusive private club and community, but opened its doors to non-members in the summer of 2010 after home sales had gone into freefall due to the failing economy. Forty-eight high-end units were built for resort guests alongside the 18th hole of the Nicklaus Course which was also opened to the public, leaving the property’s other course, designed by Tom Fazio, to the members.

Pronghorn, Nicklaus Course. Image courtesy Pronghorn

Pronghorn, Nicklaus Course. Image courtesy Pronghorn

The Nicklaus Course starts relatively gently, but gets increasingly dramatic as the round progresses – the back nine one memorable after the other. Director of Agronomy David Freitag keeps the bentgrass tees and fairways, and A4 bentgrass greens in spectacular shape. Agronomy and golf course maintenance have come a long way in the last 15-20 years allowing more courses to achieve far better playing surfaces than ever before. Pronghorn’s surfaces are truly exceptional, however, and unless you’ve played Augusta National or any other course belonging to a private club with a big maintenance staff and bigger budget, it’s unlikely you will have encountered better conditions. The lies, in the mown areas at least, are invariably perfect, the greens as true as those at a major championship venue – better in some cases.
It’s true even in winter…almost, says Freitag, despite the fact his staff drops from a summer high of 42 (21 for each course) to just eight. “There was some extreme weather last winter,” he says. “We had record cold temps in early December of 27 degrees below zero, but fortunately there was a thin layer of snow for protection, so we did not see any damage to the golf course.” There were also several snowfall accumulations spread out through the winter, he adds, so the courses had a good amount of moisture to help them through. In the first week of February, the property received 18″ of snow – 12” more than any snowfall event of the previous 12 years. “During the week between Christmas and New Year’s,
in between the record-setting lows and equally extreme snowfall, we held a well-attended shotgun tournament with really good winter golf course conditions.”
The resort at Pronghorn has been owned by the Honolulu-based Resort Group since February 2012, and managed by boutique operator Auberge Resorts which manages seven luxury properties in California, Colorado, Oregon, and Mexico (soon to be eight with the addition of Malliouhana on the West Indian island of Anguilla) since May of that year. The golf courses and golf academy have been run by Troon Golf for nearly five years.
In 2015, Pronghorn will open the 105-room Huntington Lodge, further demonstrating how much it has evolved since its confined, restrictive early days. Named after the Huntington Trail, a wagon route first used in 1867 and which ran through Deschutes County, the lodge has been designed by San Francisco’s SB Architects in the style of National Park lodges, and is being constructed by local builder SunWest Builders which began work in April.
In addition to the new lodge, the spa is being doubled in size to 4,000sqft, and the fitness center is being updated.
General Manager Spencer Schaub told ‘Cascade Business News’ in September last year that Pronghorn was free of all debt and legal encumbrances, and that $3.2m in back taxes had been paid in order to set the resort in good standing with Deschutes County. The future is undoubtedly bright for Pronghorn which Schaub says has its sight set on becoming the premier residential community and resort in the Pacific Northwest.
Construction of new accommodations is obviously in the air in Central Oregon as Tetherow too has a new lodge (actually twin buildings) to offer visiting golfers this summer. Officially opened in April, Tetherow Lodges has 50 luxury rooms most with balconies and all with views of the Paulina Mountains or David McLay Kidd-designed golf course which opened to national raves in 2008.

Image courtesy Tetherow

Image courtesy Tetherow

Operations Manager Davis Smith says the Lodges is already doing good business with golf groups and visitors on golf packages (starting at $350 per person for two nights and two days’ unlimited golf). “In just the first two months, we saw a lot of local golfers and several from a little further afield come out,” he adds. “And I expect to see sellouts over the busy summer months and rolling into fall.”
Not content with 50 guest bedrooms, Tetherow will start construction of several 3-5 bedroom cabins in the fall, part of an ambitious expansion project undertaken by the resort’s owner – Velocity Capital BV, an investment company based in the Netherlands.
As for the course, Smith says that thanks to a fairly mild winter and thorough winter preparations, the fescue greened-up quickly in the spring and is now in tip-top condition. “The course is honestly in the best shape it has been in since it opened,” he insists.
That is music to Kidd’s ears. The Scotsmen has lived in Bend since 2006 and considers Tetherow his home course. “I absolutely love it here in Bend,” he says. “I try to limit myself to one international trip a month and so I can spend as much time as I can in Bend.”
Kidd has made numerous adjustments to Tetherow in the years since it opened, changes aimed at softening a few of its more severe edges. “I’ve had the chance to play it a lot myself and watch others playing it too,” he says. “I know there were playability issues when it opened so I tried to make it more forgiving for the high-handicapper. The landing areas are more generous now, and you rarely lose a ball. I also mad some of the bunkers less penal. To maintain the challenge for the good golfer, I extended some greens to find a few more pin locations.”
The course, where golfers can now rent a GolfBoard, is fundamentally unchanged, says Kidd who adds that Tetherow offers the only links experience in Central Oregon. “It’s wall-to-wall fescue and there are loads of contours to read and use. There are no flop shots here!”
Though significantly more lenient than when it first opened, Tetherow is still a wonderfully challenging course. “I think it’s a great test now,” says Kidd. “Resort golfers can certainly have a great time, but it’s a tough prospect for the low-handicapper wanting to match par. My 6.7 handicap travels very well from here.”
Though he plays Tetherow whenever he gets the chance, Kidd has become familiar with most of Bend’s courses in his eight years of residency. “This area has so much to offer the golfer,” he says. “There is almost every genre of golf here from a lot of the top architects.”
Another area property investing in its future, looking to retain loyal customers that have been coming to the resort for the last 45 years, is Sunriver, 15 miles south of Bend off Highway 97 and set more or less at the foot of the Cascades. Sunriver resort guests have access to four golf courses – the nine-hole Caldera Links designed by Bob Cupp and Jim Ramey and perfect for families, the John Fought-designed Meadows Course, the private and nationally-ranked Cupp-designed Crosswater Course which David Kidd says is his favorite in the area besides Tetherow of course, and Robert Trent Jones’s Woodlands Course which completed the five-year renovation of its greens recently.
“Rather than close the course for an extended period, we managed to remain open by doing a few greens every year,” says the resort’s Director of Golf Josh Willis, a native of Georgia who graduated from the PGA Professional Golf Management Program at Mississippi State University. “We sodded the greens with T1 Bent using turf grown in our own nursery.”
Willis says the greens were at their absolute best 90 days after completion of the project but were, in fact, perfectly playable after just 45. “You couldn’t see the seam lines between the sods,” he says, “and though they may not have been quite as quick as the other greens, they were already putting beautifully.”
Helping the course maintain its excellent putting surfaces was this past winter’s snow-cover which, says Willis, insulated the turf from cold temperature extremes and severe temperature fluctuations. The USGA Green Section says snow cover isn’t necessarily a bad thing for golf greens at all. “Snow cover also protects turf from winter wind desiccation,” it says. “In fact, snow coverage in and of itself is rarely a problem for turf because gas exchange between the soil and atmosphere is not completely restricted, as it would be with ice.”
Willis likens the T1 to a polar bear saying it absolutely loves it environment. “It just loves cool to cold temperatures, and is a hardier strain of bent than what we have seen before,” he says. “It does take some looking after in the hotter summer months, but it is also far more tolerant of heat than our previous turf.  I fully expect the Woodland Course’s greens to be some of the best in the Pacific Northwest.”
With the golf, two great pool areas, biking, boating and numerous other activities, excellent dining, plus very comfortable accommodations, Sunriver continues to be many people’s happy place. It’s been one of mine since my family and I first visited in 2009. New, pristine greens at one of its delightful quartet of courses will only help make it even more appealing.
Fifteen miles the other side of Bend, Brasada Ranch is another world-class Central Oregon resort that epitomizes what visitors to the region find so alluring. And, like so many others, it too went through an ownership change during the economic downturn when the original developer Jeld-Wen sold to Westport, Conn.-based company Northview Hotel Group and funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management in November 2010. The same consortium also purchased Running Y Ranch in Klamath Falls and Eagle Crest Redmond from the door and window manufacturer which never disclosed why it was offloading so many of its Oregon properties (also Ridgewater, Silver Mountain Ski Resort, and Yarrow housing development in Madras) at the same time.

Image courtesy Brasada Ranch

Image courtesy Brasada Ranch

Northview spent $3.5m on upgrades with a view to making Brasada its flagship property but was careful to maintain the rustic charm of the place.
As well as what seems like a now standard list of terrific activities you can try your hand at – fly-fishing, horse-riding, rafting, mountain-biking, rock climbing – you’ll find great food prepared by Executive Chef Ryan Sturmer who recently arrived at Brasada Ranch from the Urban Farmer Restaurant at the Nines Hotel in Portland, and superb accommodations – eight elegant but comfortable Ranch House suites and 40 privately-owned luxury cabins that can be reserved by the night.
Then, of course, there’s the golf course. Brasada Canyons is a Peter Jacobsen/Jim Hardy collaboration that opened in 2008 and which might provide the best views from any golf course in Central Oregon. The course is restricted to members and resort guests so you’ll not have a problem finding a tee time. And yes, this course is worth booking a night at the resort to play. Guests receive complimentary Bushnell rangefinders for their round plus a yardage guide.
Superintendent Darren Klein, who worked on the construction crew, maintains the course in typically great condition, and says that he can’t remember a spring/early summer period when the course looked so good.
The same is true, says Superintendent Phil Lagao, of Black Butte Ranch’s two courses – Big Meadow and especially Glaze Meadow which just began its third full season since John Fought’s magnificent renovation/redesign that completely overhauled Gene Mason’s original course which had begun to look a little tired and dated. Lagao, the Oregon Golf Course Superintendent Association’s (OGCSA) Superintendent of the Year in 2012, says Glaze is now looking as good as it has done since it re-opened and that it has very nearly reached it potential. “It takes a new course, which Glaze Meadow essentially was, a few years to settle and Glaze Meadow is very nearly there,” he says. “What rough there is, is growing nicely now, and the greens are putting very well though I’d still like to see just a little more thatch.”
Thatch? Isn’t that a bad thing that superintendents want to do avoid?
Actually every green needs just a little thatch – the layer of living and dead organic matter that occurs between the green vegetation and soil surface, and which is composed primarily of turfgrass stems. “Without it, greens just have no give,” says Lagao. “There’s nothing to absorb the ball. So it’s very difficult to stop the ball on the green. That was the case when Glaze re-opened, but it’s getting much better now.”
The new Glaze Meadow has been a revelation with the men’s club and visitors who have gotten used to the new look. “The feedback is all positive now,” says Lagao. “It took some regular players a while to get used to it, but everyone loves it now.”

Black Butte Ranch Big Meadow Course. Image courtesy COVA

Black Butte Ranch Big Meadow Course. Image courtesy COVA

Black Butte Ranch’s two courses are more heavily forested than the other courses mentioned above despite Fought’s extensive tree removal which took out 3,500 of Glaze Meadow’s aspens and ponderosa pines. They may not be the quintessential Central Oregon high desert layouts, therefore, but the views of the Cascades are still fantastic and the golf every bit as enjoyable. There are over 120 vacation rentals – lodge rooms to cabins and condos to spacious homes – to choose from making a summer golf package at the 1,800-acre property (starting at just $139 per person) a bit of a no-brainer.
And speaking of no-brainers, how about this for a cracking deal…on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays in August, you can play both courses at Black Butte Ranch with a cart, range balls, and tournament coordination for just $125. And, as a bonus, every member of your group can earn $20-$40 in pro-shop credit if you book the midweek outing by July 20th (merchandise credit provided to groups of 16 players or more.)
There are plenty more courses worth a visit in Central Oregon – Aspen Lakes near Sisters, Eagle Crest near Redmond, Widgi Creek on the outskirts of Bend, Crooked River Ranch, Juniper in Redmond, Quail Run in La Pine, River’s Edge in Bend, and Bend’s Lost Tracks where if you book a tee time for between 10am and 1pm on a Sunday you automatically become eligible for the Million Dollar Shootout (see web site for details).
There really is no bad time to visit Central Oregon because if snow is preventing you from playing golf you could be skiing on Mt. Bachelor instead. But if it’s the golf you’re coming for, you might think about arranging your trip to coincide with one of Bend’s many summer festivals and events. “There really are too many to mention them all,” says the Central Oregon Visitor Association’s (COVA) Ted Taylor. “There’s the hot-air balloon festival, Balloons over Bend, July 18-20; the Cascade Cycling Classic in mid-late July which usually draws a crowd of 20,000 to the downtown area; free Munch and Music in downtown every Thursday night; a great July 4th parade (Travel + Leisure named Bend the No. 2 4th of July town in America); High Desert Classics showjumping in the last two weeks of July; and Bend Brewfest August 14-16 where one of the breweries in the line-up will be 10 Barrel whose Bend pub was the inspiration behind the clubhouse at the David Kidd-designed Gamble Sands in Central Washington which opens for play in August. “I don’t spend much time there personally because I don’t drink,” says Kidd. “But it’s a really cool place and a must-visit for anyone who likes their beer.”
Likewise, Central Oregon is a must-visit for anyone who likes their golf.
For more information, please visit www.visitcentraloregon.com

Semiahmoo Resort Kicks Off FootGolf


Semi-professional soccer team Bellingham United head coach Lance Calloway with players Tony Clark, Mo Marenah, and Colon Kifney. Images courtesy Brett Eaton

Semiahmoo Resort, Golf, & Spa kicked off FootGolf at Semiahmoo Golf & Country Club with the help of Ranger Gold, a girls soccer team from Bellingham, Wash., on June 3, 2014.

WFC U14 Ranger Gold girls soccer team, members of semi-professional soccer team Bellingham United FC, and other invited guests participated in the inaugural rounds of FootGolf

FootGolf will be available every Friday and Saturday evening this summer from 6 p.m. to dusk. FootGolf is $10 for nine holes ($8 for juniors) and $16 for 18 holes ($12 for juniors), as well a $3 soccer ball rental fee. Proper golf course attire and footwear is required. FootGolf will be played at Loomis Trail Golf Club on even days of the week and at Semiahmoo Golf & Country Club on odd days; providing two unique opportunities and challenges for players.

FootGolf, one of the fastest growing recreational activities in the United States, is played with a soccer ball on a golf course. It is scored by utilizing the rules of stroke or match play in golf as participants attempt to kick the ball from tee to green and into a 21 inch cup.

For more information about FootGolf or Semiahmoo Resort, Golf, & Spa visit www.semiahmoogolf.com/.

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