Top Five: Central Washington

 

A remnant of the sealed-up No. 9 mine shaft runs under the No. 9 hole and Suncadia's Rope Rider course.

NO. 1 COURSE(S): SUNCADIA RESORT – PROSPECTOR/ROPE RIDER

LOCATION: Cle Elum, Wa.

DIRECTIONS FROM SEATTLE: Take I-90 east toward Spokane. Turn off on exit 80, Roslyn/Salmon la Sac. Turn left onto Bullfrog Rd. and follow the signs to Suncadia.

PHONE: 866-904-6300 (Web site: suncadiaresort.com/cle-elum-golf-courses)

OPENED: 2006 (Prospector) 2011; (Rope Rider). (Architects: Arnold Palmer-Prospector; Peter Jacobsen-Jim Hardy-Roper Rider).

GREEN FEES: (June-September) Monday-Thursday, $70. Friday-Sunday, $85; Saturday, Holidays, $100.

LAYOUTS: (Prospector) Par 72, 7,112 yards (three tee positions); (Roper Rider) Par 72, 7,300 yards (three tee positions).

LOWDOWN: Prospector was named one of the best new courses in America by Golf Digest and Golf Week Magazine in 2006. It is long and breathtaking, shaped through a magnificent pine forest along the Cle Elum river. Both courses are well bunkered and well-designed by two top designer/former players, Arnold Palmer (Prospector) and Peter Jacobsen (Rope Rider).

Rope Rider was opened in the summer of 2011 and it stays true to its coal mining past. The 120-foot Tipple Hill of mine tailings has been preserved with holes No. 1, No. 7, No. 8 and No. 9 designed around it. Its pro shop is located in the wonderful Swiftwater Cellars complex, a wine-tasting restaurant.

Because they are mountain courses, they close during the winter but Suncadia and Swiftwater still draw patrons all year.

SIGNATURE HOLES: (Prospector), No. 9, par-4, 412 yards. Beautifully shaped with a slight dogleg right. Second hole must deal with a long approach of water on the right side all the way to the green. (Roper River), No. 18, par-4, 392 yards. One of the best closing holes in the state. It’s a risk/reward tee shot, depending how much you want to bite off the long water hazard along the right side that leads up to the green. The green is well-bunkered and narrow.

NO. 2 COURSE: BEAR MOUTAIN RANCH

LOCATION: Chelan, Wa.

DIRECTIONS FROM SEATTLE: Take I-90 east toward Spokane. Get off at exit 84, Cle Elum. Take Hwy 970 east. Take Hwy 97 north and that merges with Hwy 2, toward Wentachee. Exit on Hwy 97 N, toward Entlat/Chelan. Turn left at Hwy 971 N. /Navarre Coulee Rd. Turn right at Bear Mountain Ranch Rd.

PHONE: 509-682-8200 (web site: bearmt.com)

OPENED: 2005 (Architect: Robert Yount/Don Barth)

GREEN FEES: (Summer rates) Monday-Thursday, $75. Friday-Saturday-Sunday, Holidays, $89

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,231 yards (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Carved on the edge of a mountain side above Lake Chelan, this may be one of the most memorable courses you’ll play in Washington. It’s unique because of its terrain. It has an elevation gain of 700 feet.

Some holes are quite tight because of the limitations of the mountain. Some are wide open. It was voted one of the country’s top six new courses when it opened in 2005.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 14, par-5, 586 yards. It’s in a canyon shadow, hitting down hill, most days with the wind. Average players can come within a wedge of the green on the third shot with a lake in front right of the green.

NO. 3 COURSE: APPLE TREE

LOCATION: Yakima, Wa.

DIRECTIONS FROM SEATTLE: Take I-90 east toward Spokane. Take Hwy 82 toward Yakima. Get off at Hwy 12/White Pass/Naches exit. Turn left on 40th Ave. Turn right on Washington Ave. At 64th St., turn left. Take a right on Occidental Rd. Course is on the left.

PHONE: 509-966-5877 (web sitel: appletreegolf.com)

OPENED: 1992 (Architect: John Steidel)

GREEN FEES: (May-September) Monday-Thursday, $34. Friday-Saturday-Sunday, Holidays, $49

LAYOUT: Par 72, 6,892 yards (three tee positions).

LOWDOWN: The course was one of the first built over the Cascade Mountains that promoted golfing road trips.

It’s scenic, through the apple orchards in the Yakima Valley, and challenging at nearly 6,900 yards.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 17, par-3, 180 yards: The most distinctive and renown golf hole in the state. It’s an apple-shaped island green, hitting over water and full of terror. It has been rated as the best par-3 in Washington and featured in countless publications.

NO. 4 COURSE: DESERT CANYON

LOCATION: Orondo, Wa.

DIRECTIONS FROM SEATTLE: Follow I-90 to exit 85 and follow Hwy 970 East until it turns into US-97 and go to US-2 junction Orondo. Follow US-97 north about seven miles. Turn right on Brays Rd. Go one mile then right on Desert Canyon Blvd.

PHONE: 800-258-4173 (web site: desertcanyon.com)

OPENED: 1993 (Architect: Jack Frei)

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,217 (five tee positions).

GREEN FEES: Monday-Thursday; $69; Friday-Saturday-Sunday, Holidays, $89.

LOWDOWN: You get the feeling here that you are playing on a plateau at the top of a mountain. You get that feeling because you are. It’s lush, open and full of mountain air, a beautiful layout with waterfalls and rock outcroppings.

What you might find that your golf game will suffer because of the distraction of the area’s beauty.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 15, par-5, 690 yards. Long, long hole that slopes down hill toward the river. The slope, hard surface and mountain air help the carry. You have to manage each shot to avoid the tall fir that guards the right side approach and the bunker along the right side of the green.

NO. 5 COURSE: THE LINKS AT MOSES POINTE

LOCATION: Moses Lake, Wa.

DIRECTIONS FROM SEATTLE: I-90 east, take exit 174. Right over freeway and keep going north for four miles on Westshore Dr.

PHONE: 509-764-2275 (web site: mosespointe.com)

GREEN FEES: Monday-Friday, $29; Saturday-Sunday, $39.

OPENED: 1999. (Architect: Dave Soushek/Mike Moore)

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,549 yards (six tee positions).

LOWDOWN: Above the west shore of Moses Lake, the advantage here is it’s so easy to access off I-90 between Seattle and Spokane in the Columbia Basin. It’s a mostly treeless track with fescue grasses throughout and wide open fairways.

Selected among the best places to play by Golf Digest in 2008-2009, it is long and playable as the desert-like region makes for hard bounces and long runs.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 9, par-4, 458 yards. Long and short hitters will be challenged on their approach to the green. It will be over water with bunkers behind and to the right of a fairly generous green. Pretty layout, with Moses Lake in the background.

- Bob Sherwin