by Howie Stalwick
There are golf holes, and then there are golf hells. Let's call this article for what it is: 18 Holes of Hell, Plus 2. There are 20 golf courses in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area that have 18 holes and are open to the general public, and we asked club pros to list the most challenging hole at each of their courses (listed alphabetically).
We'd like to tell you the pros described these holes in somber, reverent tones, mindful of the heartache these tangled webs of woods, sand, water and whatnot have caused us through the years.
Like we said, we'd like to be able to tell you that. The truth is, most of the pros were cackling with unrestrained glee as they described the daytime nightmares these bad-ass holes have created for the common man, aka the weekend hacker.
Fellow hackers, unite. Let's show the pros we will not be intimidated. Let's show the pros we can -- and will -- par these holes... sometime in the next decade. Or two. Or three.
AVONDALE, No. 12
"It's a dogleg left, and it's a long par-4, and most people hit left to right. From the white tees, it's 432 yards. There's a grass bunker right in front of the green on the right. It also has another bunker and a double-tier green. Our greens are usually pretty fast. If you play from the blue tees, it's 455 yards."
CIRCLING RAVEN, No. 13
"It's a 253-yard par-3, and it's a forced carry. From the back tees over the badlands, it's about 232. That's the thing: There's no room for error. You either carry it, or you don't."
COEUR d'ALENE GOLF CLUB, No. 12
"From the blues, it's a 433-yard par-4. It's long, and it's out of bounds all the way down the right. If your shot misses a little bit on the right, it really kicks off right into the out of bounds. You're usually hitting a mid-iron [for your second shot] at a pretty small target. It's a big green with lots of undulation."
COEUR d'ALENE RESORT, No. 14
"The world's only floating, moveable green. It's a 15,000-square-foot structure weighing 5 million pounds. It truly does float. It's got 3,000 geraniums, five trees, three sand traps, a little bit of rough and 7,000 square feet of putting surface. It's fairly big until you step up on the tee, and you tee up your ball, and there's a slight breeze blowing off Lake Coeur d'Alene, and you usually have a little slice, anyway. It plays anywhere from 75 to 250 yards, and there are five sets of tees."
DEER PARK, No. 14
"It's a dogleg left, and there's a creek that is pretty much going down the left side all the way that you have to cross at some point with your drive or second shot... and you have water to the right of the green. The wind is usually blowing into your face."
DOWNRIVER, No. 12
"It gives people a lot of grief. Just the length... there's no elevation change whatsoever. It's nothing but a flat, straight 220 yards. That's tough for most people [for a par-3]... with the length, they want to hit it a little too hard."
ESMERALDA, No. 7
"It's 458 to 470, depending on the tee location. For the average amateur, it takes a pretty long drive. It's a dogleg left, and it's tree-lined on the left and right. You have to hit a pretty good drive to get a look at the green."
FAIRWAYS, No. 13
"It's a par-3. It plays about 185 yards, and you have to carry water all the way. The wind usually blows in your face. If you have wind -- and we usually do out here -- it can play 180, 210, 215. I've had times I didn't think I could get a driver there. The wind can really be howling out here."
HANGMAN VALLEY, No. 16
"It's long par-5. From the back, it measures 606. What's tough, especially for the average golfer, is that you have to hit three pretty great shots, starting with your tee shot. There's out of bounds on the right, which usually scares most people. There's a lot of room on the left. That usually leaves you with a downhill, side-hill lie for your second shot, which is really tough to hit with a fairway wood or long iron. The green is not the biggest green in the world. Then there's out of bounds on the right and a jungle on the left. I've seen a lot of double-digit scores on that hole."
THE HIGHLANDS, No. 10
"If you play from the blue tees, it's over 600 yards. You've got a pretty straightaway tee shot to an uphill fairway, then kind of a blind second shot through a dip. If you have two great shots, you have kind of a blind third shot from 150 yards to a well-protected green that's kind of sloped from the front to the middle of the green, and the green slopes from the back to the middle. There's out of bounds on the left and trees on the right, a couple fairway bunkers and, of course, bunkers around the green."
INDIAN CANYON, No. 5
"It's tough because it's a long par-4, and the last 200 yards are straight uphill, and it's a green Evelyn Wood can't read. It's unbelievable. It's like, once you get home, you've got to get by the dogs, too. It's not often you play a hole defensively. There's usually a way out, a way to attack a hole. But on this hole, there's not. It's kind of like marriage. You get what you can get, and you walk away happy."
LIBERTY LAKE, No. 17
"It's an uphill, dogleg left. It plays 432. It's just tough to get it up there."
THE LINKS, No. 10
"From the white tees, it's 380. It's a par-4. It's got a tough green to putt. They can put the pins in different places where you almost have to chip across the green. Plus, there's a huge, long bunker that's kind of tough to see in front of the green."
MEADOWWOOD, No. 16
"It's about 600 yards -- 580 from the whites. The difficult thing about it is, the rough gets pretty long out here, and the last 150 yards is uphill to a pretty difficult spot. Most people can't get over the [fairway] bunker in two shots. That leaves you with a shot 160 to 185 yards. Most people take a bogey... the green just doesn't accept long irons or fairway woods, and if you go over the green, you're chipping downhill."
PRAIRIE FALLS, No. 14
"It's a par-3, about 200 yards long, and it seems like it's always playing into the wind. You've got to hit it straight, because there's out of bounds on the left and a bunker on the right."
THE CREEK AT QUALCHAN, No. 12
"It's the longest par-4 on our course [450 yards from the blues]. It has out of bounds on the right because of an entry road, so that makes your tee shot tougher. We've got a huge fairway bunker, so it makes it tough to reach the green if you don't have a real good tee shot. The green slopes more than it looks, too."
STONERIDGE, No. 8
"It's a long par-3, downhill, with water on the left. It's 215 from the white tees, 248 from the blues. The pond surrounds the entire left side of the green, and there's a bunker on the right."
SUN DANCE, No. 4
"From the white tees, it's 456 yards, and it's a par-4. It's tree-lined all the way on both sides, so it's really narrow. The green is pretty small for that long a hole. Though it's a par-4, I don't think a 5 is a bad score. A 4 is kind of a bonus. If you get a 5, you'll usually beat most people you're playing with."
TWIN LAKES VILLAGE, No. 6
"It's a par-4. From the blue tees, it's 412 yards. One of the toughest shots is hitting the right distance off the tee, because you've got trees that are going to block you out and a pond if you go too far, and there's out of bounds to the right. Also, the green is pretty difficult. There's a lot more slope than it looks. If you get up past the hole, it can be tough."
WANDERMERE, No. 16
"It's a dogleg left over the river. It's 405. If you get [your tee shot] actually through the trees and out into the fairway, there's a tree in the middle, too. And the green is a narrow green, and it's pretty deep, with trees on both sides."
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Publication date: 6/10/04