Great views, great value at Quail Ridge
This short, but interesting, par-71 layout features a wonderfully diverse collection of holes that, like most of the other courses in the area, play over moderately rolling terrain just a little more than four miles south of Clarkston.
Also, like all of the courses we played on our two-day trip, Quail Ridge offers gorgeous views of the surrounding hills and valleys, along with some challenging approach shots to elevated greens, many of which are nothing more than a rumor from fairway.
The key is to buy into the idea that if there is a flagstick up there, there must also be some kind of putting surface. And once you arrive at the top of the hill, you are in for a real treat, because Quail Ridge’s greens are top notch, with just enough undulations to make it difficult to get a proper read on putts.
The course, originally known as Swallows Nest, is a family owned public facility that was renamed and expanded to 18 holes in the late 1980s by its previous owner, Don Poe. After purchasing it from Poe in 2001, the Carlson and McCarthy families have made several noticeable improvements, including the additions of 30 new bunkers and eight new tee boxes that added 400 yards to the length of the course, which now can be stretched to 6,072 yards.
Quail Ridge plays longer than that number would suggest, however, due in part to the considerable changes in elevation that add so much to its character.
And with greens fees set at $27 – even on weekends and holidays – it’s as easy on the wallet as it is on the eyes.
“Almost everyone who comes in from out of town says they can’t believe what we charge,” said Rod Carlson, Quail Ridge’s general manager. “The Valley is very competitive, with the two country clubs (in Clarkston and Moscow), whose rates are really reasonable, and Bryden Canyon.
“But I think we have an edge, because we’re family owned and we put most of our profits back into the golf course.”
Among the top holes at Quail Ridge is 146-yard par-3 15th that offers one of the course’s best viewpoints.
According to Carlson, people also like some of Quail Ridge’s short par-4s.
“Our biggest clientele are older people, and they’re fun for them,” Carlson explained. “This is a golf course you can score on, and a place where they can still shoot in the high 80s or low 90s.
“And everyone seems like the scenery. They love getting up on top on some of the tee boxes and looking down over the whole valley.”
Quail Ridge’s most talked-about hole, however, is its perplexing 374-yard, par-4 18th, which doglegs right down a hill and plays over a road and back uphill to an angled green protected on the right front by a nasty bunker.
“It’s one of the toughest holes you can play,” Carlson said. “If you lay up short of the road, you’re faced with a long uphill approach from a downhill lie. And anything to the right, on the road, is out of bounds.”
Quail Ridge is also open year round and has a link on its website to a webcam that updates a photo of the putting green every 30 seconds. It’s a handy way for anyone thinking about making the trip to Clarkston in the dead of winter to check on any possible snowfall.