By Tim Cotroneo
The bordering states of Washington and Idaho can’t wait to exceed your golf trip expectations. The golf trifecta of Kalispel Golf and Country Club, Circling Raven Golf Course, and the Coeur d’Alene Resort Course deliver history, majestic nature, and the world’s only floating island green.
Golfers can anticipate a landscape eye-opener of towering pine trees, mountain ranges, and one of America’s most stunning Alpine lakes. All three courses have hosted the world’s top players in events ranging from the Women’s U.S. Open, the LPGA Tour, and tournaments showcasing best in brand spirits.
Stretching your golf course bucket list to include this great American northwest trio promises to be one of those, “I wish I’d done this sooner,” moments. Let’s take a look at three courses within an 80-mile radius that offer first class service, supreme course conditions, and one-of-a-kind golf holes.
Kalispel Golf and Country Club – in Spokane, WA 124-Years Never Looked So Good
For the golfer who thrives on history, know that playing at Kalispel Golf and Country Club means you’re walking on hallowed ground. The club’s 1898 opening was a time of golfers wielding brassies and mashies. One of Kalispel’s first golf professionals held the Wild West nickname of “Long Jim” Barnes.
You’ll feel a comforting hush throughout this pine tree-lined environment that stretches to 6700-yards. If you enjoy courses offering a different twist, know that when playing holes 7 through 13, every other one is a Par 3. If you think your driver is getting off easy, keep in mind that Kalispel is still a Par 72.
You’d be right if you sensed a spiritual nature to your Kalispel round. After finishing the 9th hole, walk over and rub the head of Fil the Frog sitting on the trunk of a huge oak tree. The Native Indian community called the Kalispel land, situated on the banks of the Pend Oreille River, sacred. The surrounding area dubbed “Frog Island” believes the frog is a symbol of health, balance, community, and a promising future. All the better for your back nine.
For those that choose to walk or use a pull cart, Kalispel’s storied history is acknowledged when you throw your clubs in the back of a 1934 Model T to assist your hike up the hill to the 10th tee box. The pristine vehicle has been stretched twice to accommodate golf clubs. The 321-yard, Par 4, finishing hole is driveable. Avoid the four bunkers protecting the green, and you may close out your round with a birdie.
There’s more history when you head to the elevated restaurant overlooking the 9th green. This stylish restaurant with a far-flung view is called the 1898 Public House. Quench your thirst with a Mimosa flight, a custom Bloody Mary, or a local craft beer. Amidst a beautiful atmosphere, dig into the restaurant’s curated lunch and dinner menu featuring Pan Seared Duck, Cedar Plank Salmon Oscar, and Prime Filet Mignon.
Circling Raven Golf Club – in Worley, ID The Awards Keep Rolling In
The award momentum for Circling Raven Golf Club began when the course opened in 2003. The first trophy in their sparkling 6500-square-foot clubhouse read, “Best New Course.” This accolade was followed by Best in Idaho, America’s Top 100, Best Merchandiser of the Year, Best Casino Course, One of America’s Greatest Public Courses, Exceptional Hospitality, and Best in the West. Whew! Circling Raven must be doing something right.
Begin your Circling Raven experience by reveling in their beautiful clubhouse, VIP service, spacious practice area, and immaculate course conditions. Step up to the 513-yard, Par 5, first hole and realize that this is when the fun really begins.
Your Circling Raven surroundings are, in a word, huge. We’re talking over 600 massive acres. The sheer acreage is more than double the size of most championship golf courses. The championship legacy has been noted by the best lady golfers in the world, as the Epson Tour comes to this 7200-yard layout on August 26, 2022.
If tranquility is one of the feelings you like best about the sport of golf, consider that on Circling Raven’s back nine, each golf hole is all by its lonesome. You won’t find a housing development, but you will find glorious views of the Bitterroot Mountain Range, as well as lush fairways, ample sand traps, and possibly a moose.
Each of the Circling Raven golf holes has a name tracing back to its native roots. Ironically the 10th hole is called Moose Crossing. The 10th tee box, located just a sand wedge from the clubhouse, is one of the favorite haunts for a moose that frequents the golf course.
Once your round is over, you may feel like relaxing before taking on the third leg of your Washington to Idaho golf journey. Take the shuttle over to the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort and recharge your battery. Expect spacious rooms, a relaxing spa, three great restaurants, insights into Native American culture, and gaming offering big-time payouts. Once you’re reinvigorated from your hotel stay, drive 28 miles north to the Coeur d’Alene Resort.
Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course in Coeur d’Alene, ID Spectacular First Impression
Your sense of anticipation grows as you enter the river town of Coeur d’Alene. The excitement and popularity of this bustling city was sparked when the resort opened in 1986. Over 20,000 people lined the streets edging toward the resort entrance to catch the first sighting of this stunning mix of water, golf, business, restaurants, fitness, and nature.
Today this excitement continues as you drive through Coeur d’Alene’s gated entrance and head to the pro shop to check in for your round. Expect your head to turn on a swivel because this course, designed by Scott Miller, delivers the “wow” factor.
The glass wrapped pro shop gives golfers every opportunity to catch a glimpse of what’s in store when starting with the Par 5, 520-yard, first hole. Then again, while on the practice range hitting golf balls that float into Lake Coeur d’Alene, you can’t help but feel like you’re in for four hours of something truly special.
Fore Caddies are mandatory at Coeur d’Alene, and you’ll soon appreciate all that these seasoned golf ambassadors have to offer regarding what to shoot for and what to avoid, while also tapping into their green reading expertise.
The scenic golf on the front nine and first four holes on the back are like a drum roll leading up to the 14th hole par three. We’ve left out the yardage of this jaw-dropper because it varies from day to day. That’s because the 14th is the world’s only golf hole with a floating green.
Washington and Idaho Golf – Let’s Do it Again
After hitting your tee shots, go to the nearby dock and hop into a mahogany boat named Putter. This polished StanCraft vessel takes your foursome on a three-minute drive and ultimately parks next to the 2,200-ton floating green colorfully framed by 1500 red geraniums. As you move on to 15, perhaps you’ll daydream that Nat King Cole and his daughter Natalie were thinking of Coeur d’Alene’s 14th hole when they sang, “Unforgettable.”
Upon completing Coeur d’Alene’s 18 holes, tip your fore caddy, and then stop to appreciate the highlights of your three-day epic golf experience. At Coeur d’Alene Resort’s aptly-named Lakeview Lounge, hoist a cold brew and recount your 72 hours of golf journey memories.
It seems your foursome has but one regret about their Washington and Idaho golf getaway. To a person you agree on one thing: “I wish I’d done this sooner.”