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Plenty of risk and reward … or not

Originally designed as a nine-hole layout by Francis L. James in 1933, this 6,602-yard, par-72 University of Idaho course was redesigned by Bob Bolduck in 1968 and expanded to 18 holes.

It serves as the home venue for the University of Idaho’s men’s and women’s golf teams and like Palouse Ridge, offers some remarkable views of the rolling hills and distant mountains from its highest points.

The front nine features three par-5s, two of which serve up reasonable birdie opportunities, and plays to a par of 37. The longest – and by far most difficult – is the 558-yard fourth that doglegs uphill toward the university’s water tower, and is protected by out-of-bound stakes running the length of the fairway on the right and a steep ridge on the left that drops down in the fairway of No. 3.

But U of I’s director of golf, Doug Tyler, thinks a lot of golfers like the par-5 7th, which stretches just 491 and plays slightly downhill to a green protected in front by a pond.

“People like it because if they hit a good drive and then challenge themselves and hit a good second shot over the water, they’re set up to eagle the hole,” Tyler explained. “But there’s a lot of risk that’s involved in trying to reap that reward.”

Another gem is the 232-yard par-3 17th that plays along a ridge with out of bounds to the right and another steep slope on the left that funnels errant tee shots away from the green and sets up a blind second. The menacing hole is consistently ranked among the most difficult in the region and is certainly deserving of the honor.

The greens on the course, which averages between 21-22,000 rounds a year and boasts weekday greens fees in the $22-25 range, are relative small, but will putt true in almost every instance. And with three sets of tee boxes, golfers of all skill levels can find enough golf course to suit their needs.

“People really seem to enjoy the course,” said Tyler. “We get a lot compliments on the quality of the greens and the overall condition of the course. And a lot of times people are amazed at how little it costs them to play of course of that quality.”