NO. 1 COURSE: COEUR D’ALENE RESORT
LOCATION: Coeur d’Alene, Id.
DIRECTIONS FROM SPOKANE: I-90 in Idaho, 31 miles from Spokane. Take exit 15, Sherman Rd. and left on CDA Lake Dr. Go 0.4 miles to entrance on right.
PHONE: 208-667-4653 (web site: cdaresort.com)
OPENED: 1991 (Architect: Scott Miller)
GREEN FEES: Packages available from as low as $59 to more than $200 with accommodations at the fancy Coeur d’Alene Resort Hotel.
LAYOUT: Par 71, 6,803 yards (five tee positions)
LOWDOWN: Among the top 100 of the best public courses in America, according to Golf Digest. This is well-manicured that has the feel of a country club. A fore-caddy greets every group and goes out with you to give you directions and tips.
The course is on a slight bluff above the beautiful lake. It’s a playable course, tight at times, scenic throughout.
SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 14, par-3, 180-yards-ish. This world’s only floating island green is the state’s iconic golf feature. It’s moveable so it can be brought in or out, to more than 200 yards and, at times, against the wind. A little boat takes you to the green. The island is 15,000 square feet and the course winks at mulligans if you can’t reach in one.
NO. 2 COURSE: CIRCLING RAVEN
LOCATION: Worley, Id.
DIRECTIONS FROM SPOKANE: Take US-95 to Plummer/Moscow exit. Turn right on US-95 S. Take exit ID-58 E. Turn right and go a half mile and turn left. Course is on the left.
PHONE: 800-523-2464 (web site: circlingraven.com)
OPENED: 1993 (Architect: Gene Bates)
GREEN FEES: Monday-Thursday, $80, Friday-Saturday-Sunday, $95
LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,189 yards (five tee positions)
LOWDOWN: Ranked among the top 100 courses to play in America by Golf Digest. This course gives you a variety of looks, from meadows and wetlands, to mountainous tree-lined fairways to airy almost links-style holes.
It’s a pristine layout with no structures and adjacent to the Coeur d’Alene national forest.
SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 3, par-3, 386 yards. From an elevated green, the first thing you notice is the length of the carry – and the trouble you’ll find if you stray right or left. You need to be straight here. The green is protected by a series of bunkers on the left front. Good luck on this one.
NO. 3 COURSE: PALOUSE RIDGE
LOCATION: Pullman, Wa.
DIRECTIONS FROM SPOKANE:. Once you reach Pullman, take Main St., Hwy 270 toward Moscow, Id. Take a left on Airport Rd. Drive two miles. The road turns into Terre View. The course is on the left.
PHONE: 509-332-1827 (web site: palouseridge.wsu.edu)
OPENED: 2008 (Architect: John Harbottle III)
GREEN FEES: Monday-Thursday, $49; Friday-Saturday-Sunday, $69
LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,308 yards (three tee positions).
LOWDOWN: When this course opened in 2008, this region finally got a enviable golf facility. It is a challenging layout, with elevation changes, hidden obstacles, some fairly long carries and plenty of risk-reward shots.
The links-style course was selected as the top new golf course in America by GolfWeek in 2008.
SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 17, par-5, 527 yards. The long hitters have to prevent a roll into the downhill waste area in the 240-yard range. The shorter hitters need to negotiate the waste area and find a place to land to the left of the green. There is a lake protecting the right side of the green and a troubling and deep pot bunker on the back left side.
NO. 4 COURSE: INDIAN CANYON
LOCATION: Spokane, Wa.
DIRECTIONS FROM SPOKANE: I-90 to exit 281. Head west onto Division St./US-2. Right on East Spokane Falls Blvd. Take second left to stay on Spokane Falls Blvd. Course is on the right.
PHONE: 509-747-5353 (web site: indiancanyongolf.com)
OPENED: 1935 (architect: H. Chandler Egan)
GREEN FEES: Monday-Thursday, $27; Friday-Saturday-Sunday, $29.
LAYOUT: Par 72, 6,255 yards (four tee positions).
LOWDOWN: Built on a canyon wall, it has a 250-foot elevation change. It’s not long but it’s a challenge to work the ball through the pines, a plethora of bunkers and the undulating greens. Selected one of the top public courses in the U.S. by Golf Digest.
Byron Nelson, who played in a 1945 tournament here, said the greens were among the best he had ever played on. The venerable course has hosted the U.S. Public Links championship in 1941 and 1984 and Women’s Amateur Links in 1989.
SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 1, par-5, 479 yards. It’s not a exceptionally long but it is beautiful. You come down from the clubhouse and hit into the narrow valley, which is shaped by tall firs on each side. The green is exceptionally small.
NO. 5 COURSE: WINE VALLEY
LOCATION: Walla Walla, Wa.
DIRECTIONS FROM WALLA WALLA: Drive seven miles west of downtown on Hwy 12. Turn right on Frenchtown Rd. and go ¾ miles then left on Wine Valley Rd.
PHONE: 509-525-4653 (web site: winevalleygolfclub.com)
OPENED: 2009. (Architect: Dan Hixson)
GREEN FEES: Monday-Thursday, $70; Friday-Saturday-Sunday, Holidays, $85
LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,360 yards (four tee positions).
LOWDOWN: Tucked into the wine making and tasting region of southeastern Washington, this new layout features wide open and hard fairways with ample-size greens. Its length can be intimidating but you get extra rolls.
The course has been ranked as the second best you can play in the state by GolfWeek and golfers can easily link with wine tours/hotels in the region for a zin experience.
SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 7, par-5, 625 yards. One of longest holes in the state (back tees), it takes good positioning to avoid the fairway bunkers and three around the green. Once you get in a trap, the steep banks in places can make it a bogie-plus experience.
– Bob Sherwin