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Sunday, March 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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New-and-improved Rock Island a long-distance test

No. 1 at Rock Island. (Dean Crane / Special to Golf)
No. 1 at Rock Island. (Dean Crane / Special to Golf)

Rock Island opened in the 1970s but it doubled in size with the debut of nine new holes in 2011.

The new side stretched the course to 7,153 yards from the tips, 6,639 yards from the blue tees, and added variety to the layout.

“It’s a long course if you play it from the back. You’re hitting a lot of 5- and 6-irons into the greens,” first-year pro Randy Behnke said. “The front side is relatively flat with the only real hill on the approach coming up No. 9. The back side has more elevation changes and a few more doglegs.”

Both nines have quality greens.

“I think it has the fastest greens of all four courses (Alta Lake, Bear Mountain, Desert Canyon), smooth, quick and small,” said Behnke, referring to courses owned by Don Barth, who designed Rock Island’s back nine. “There’s not a lot of undulation to them, most are relatively flat, but they roll really true, smooth and fast.”

Rock Island, located about 10 miles south of Wenatchee, begins gently from the black tees with a 358-yard par 4 but then offers up a 483-yard par 4 that rates as one of the course’s toughest.

There are two lengthy par 4s sandwiched around the 607-yard par 5 fifth, the No. 1 handicap hole. It doesn’t get any easier on the 221-yard par 3 seventh.

The back side has a classic drivable par 4, the dogleg-right 13th. The hole is 339 yards from the white tees but the direct route to the green requires roughly a 275-yard carry over a pond. The same pond comes into play on the 157-yard par 3 14th.

“It’s more of a risk hole (than reward),” Behnke said of No. 13. “You can find water on about three-fourths of the holes, especially if you hook the ball.”

The 15th, a 492-yard par 5, and 16th, 423-yard par 4, “are really cool holes because they’re cut through the orchards,” Behnke said. Those measurements are from the blue tees.

The finishing stretch is a serious test from the back tees: Nos. 16 and 17 are twin 450-yard par 4s and No. 18 is a 211-yard par 3.

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