Golf Report: Golf news, events and course information for Spokane and the Inland Northwest

Prepare for memorable experience

Located on the eastern edge of the Washington State University campus, this John Harbottle III-designed wonder is already being hailed as one of the top college courses in existence, and with good reason.

Stretching to a hearty 7,308-yard from the back Crimson tees, Palouse Ridge offers stunning views of the Palouse that most people have only seen in aerial photographs, along with some of the most unique hole designs in the Pacific Northwest.

Harbottle did a splendid job of fitting all 18 holes into 315 acres of hilly, sloping terrain in an imaginative design that makes them look like they’ve been a part of the landscape for years. The tall, wispy brown grass that frames the plush, green fairways is a terrific touch, mimicking the waving wheat in the surrounding fields and presenting all kinds of penalties for errant shots.

Each hole features five sets of tee boxes, offering a decent test to golfers of all skill levels, and the 49 roughly edged bunkers, two large ponds and various wetlands areas all add considerably to the Palouse Ridge experience. The medium-sized T-1 bentgrass greens are firm, but fair, and putt as true as any in the region.

“I’ve been here now for eight or nine months, and we continue to get positive feedback about the course,” said Palouse Ridge’s general manager, Tyler Jones. “When you have this kind of terrain, it’s sometimes difficult to design holes that are unique, but John did a great job.

“The way I judge a good golf course is when you can walk off the 18th green and still remember each hole, and Palouse Ridge is that kind of course.”

Despite the immaculate condition of the nearly treeless links-style course, and the spellbinding views of the rolling hills and distant mountains in Idaho and Oregon, Jones admits it is still difficult to lure Spokane-area golfers away from their public courses.

“Spokane’s the biggest market that is closest to us,” he explained, “and its one we’re trying to tap as much as possible. But golfers up there have so many other good, affordable options, which makes this a pretty price-sensitive area.”

Jones estimates that half of the golfers who play Palouse Ridge are WSU students and local residents. Another 25 percent are from Spokane, the rest are from other regions.

The $12.3 million Palouse Ridge complex includes a 7,000 square foot clubhouse that is home to the pro shop and Banyan’s on the Ridge, a British Colonial-themed steakhouse that offers outdoor seating overlooking the 18th green and a nice selection of Washington state wines and Pacific Northwest microbrews.

In 2009, the course, itself, was ranked No. 2 by both Golf Digest and Golfweek in the two publications’ annually ratings of the Best New Courses open to public.

Among Palouse Ridge’s most memorable holes is the par-4 third, which features a 90-foot drop from the Crimson tees to narrow, snaky and angled fairway. The views from the back tees are remarkable – and also a little unnerving because of the fairway bunker that guards the right side of the landing area and the long, narrow green that has no visible backdrop.

Only one of the eight par-4s designed by Harbottle plays under 400 yards from the tips, and four of them stretch more than 450 yards. There are three par-5s and three par-3s on the back nine, which is almost 350 yards shorter than the front, but no less difficult.

Palouse Ridge, which hosted the 2009 Washington State Men’s Amateur, will be the site of both the 2012 Pacific-10 Conference Women’s Championships and the 2015 Pac-10 Men’s Championships. It is also scheduled to host an NCAA men’s regional in 2013.

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