Guarding its secrets
Ellensburg’s wrinkles offer test
(Ellensburg, 180 miles from Spokane; 28 miles from Sun Country)
Take the Thorpe Highway exit and drive about four miles to find this rural, nine-hole course bordered by the Yakima River, ranches and farmland. Built in 1931, the course has a traditional, relatively flat layout with a couple of wrinkles.
There are two sets of tees, with the front nine measuring 2,988 yards and the back (if you opt to play 18) spanning 3,220. It’s $18 for 18 ($20 on holidays and weekends) and a fairly easy walk. The course handles about 25,000 rounds annually.
“We get very busy for 10 months of the year,” said Frank Crimp, co-owner along with his brother Keith. Both are former Central Washington University golfers.
The first hole, 354 yards with a right-to-left sloped fairway, is your first introduction to numerous small, circular bunkers framed with high, tangled rough. There is one bunker left and one right for wayward tee shots, not to mention an irrigation channel 15 yards from the left edge of the fairway.
No. 2, an arrow-straight 338-yard par-4, has a few more of those bunkers, sections of high, nasty rough left and an irrigation channel right.
“My brother plays a lot of amateur golf around the northwest and he incorporated those pot bunker features throughout the course,” Frank said. “At one time we maybe had 10 bunkers. Now we have 40, and they certainly come into play.”
The third and sixth holes are probably the toughest. No. 3 is 429 yards and doglegs to the right. The sixth is 435 yards with a hazard on the right. The par-3 fifth is 166 yards, but probably played closer to 195 into a stout headwind.
The signature hole is the par-4 fourth. It’s just 295 yards and reachable for long hitters with a gentle fade, but large trees along the right discourage a direct-line shot. There are a couple of bunkers and trees for drives that miss left. The small green is protected in back by a grove of aspens, by a bunker short right and beyond that the Yakima River. Wind turbines can be seen in the background.
“You get a little northwest wind going and it’s plenty tough,” Crimp said.
Reecer Creek, a nine-hole course in Ellensburg visible from I-90, closed five years ago.
Rating/Slope: Men 70.0/124
Rating/Slope: Women 73.1/122