Monday, August 21, 2017

MN-UT-AK Part of Trip...Get to 50 States?

MN-UT-AK Part of Trip...Get to 50 States?

Keller Golf Course, August 20, 2017:  I had arranged with Keller to be able to play at 6:45am (their normal first time off is 7am) and to go off as a single.  This was necessary if I was to catch a flight at 11:25 AM from MSP to Salt Lake City, arrive early enough play TCC-SLC, and then catch a nonstop to Anchorage.  Schedule was very tight but it looked like it would work.

Keller is a very good course for a “muni”.  The land has very good movement and the course has a good routing.  Its condition was good, although the tees were in suspect condition (I think caused by shade from trees…apparently a good number of trees were removed during Mandell’s renovation in 2014, but not nearly enough from my viewpoint).  BTW, in my last post I neglected to mention that Mandell’s residence is in Pinehurst, but that I have not met him.  

There are are some very interesting holes on Keller…especially #4 and #17 which are pictured below.  The 4th is a flat 150 yard par 3 (from the back) to a good sized green with a 50’ high oak tree sitting smack dab in front of the green (see pic).  The canopy of the tree stops about 10 yards short of the front of the green.  Trust me, it is quite a shock when one walks over to the 4th tee from the third green.  But somehow, it works…because the hole is relatively short, the player has a lofted iron in their hands so that clearing the tree is not a huge issue.  I actually liked it (perhaps because I hit a 7-iron to about 5 feet and got my birdie).  

Keller par 3 just left of tree trunk...and my ball within 5'

Keller par 4 17th hole from about 145 yards from green...some room left but not much

The 17th presents a similar situation, this time on a 376 yard apr 4, which turns slightly right and is up hill to a green sitting on the crest off a slight rise.  Once again a large Oak tree presents a real obstacle that makes the player consider how to play it off the tee (for example, a big hitter could put a drive too close to the tree to clear it easily (this was not a problem for me as I hit a smothered hook off the tee and had to punch out of the rough with a 5-iron, and ended up with a bogey).

Two other superb par 3’s on Keller on #13 and #15 pictured below.  #13 is 148 yards, slightly uphill and requires a carry over wetlands to a shallow green and #15 is uphill 195 yards with a false front and a shop drop off to the right and short.  The four par 3’s at Keller are really the strongest aspect of the course.

Keller #13 par 3

Keller par 3 15th

One other interesting aspect of Keller is that there is almost no housing that can be seen on the course (there is a short stretch of homes before and to the left of the 2nd green, which are the only homes that are visible from the course).  From an aesthetics standpoint, this is a real plus.  From the back tees it plays to 6675 yards and is really a very special muni.

I played in about 2:15 and shot a 36-40 = 76.  After the round, I talked with the head pro, Mark Foley, thanked him again, and then it was off to MSP airport on my way to SLC.

The Country Club (UT), August 20, 2017:  To my knowledge, there are at least three clubs in the USA named “The Country Club” and they are located in Brookline, MA, Pepper Pike, OH, and Salt Lake City, UT.  Quite frankly, I chose to play TCC-SLC to check off Utah on my
“play all 50 states bucket list” because of its proximity to the SLC airport…as I had to get back to the airport for a flight at 8:35pm to Anchorage, and very often clubs can be busy on Sunday afternoons.  My sense is that there are better tracks near Park City (and they certainly would have been cooler…it was 93 at TCC-SLC) but I feared getting stuck behind some groups.

TCC-SLC was founded in 1899.  It eventually moved to its present location (at the base of the Wasatch Mountains) in 1922, was originally designed by Willie Watson and Harold Lamb and then renovated by Ralph Plummer in 1963.  It plays to a stout 7209 yards.   Almost all of the holes and greens are impacted by the overall flow of the course  from east to west (off the Wasatch Mtns towards the valley).  Best holes are #6 (177 yard uphill par 3 protected on left front by deep bunker) and #11 (467 yard flat par 4 with green protected by creek in front and on right)—see pics below.   At a couple of points, the views of the mountains are very compelling and reminded me of Gavea Golf Club in Rio.

TCC-SLC par 3 6th

TCC-SLC long par 4 11th approach from 150 yards

TCC-SLC was included on GD’s 200 Toughest lists in 1966 and 1967; it has not made a Top 100 listing.  Course is good but not great and has a number of ordinary holes.  I ended up with a decent but not great 41-41 = 82.

Was able to play in about 2:15 (front nine was totally clear and three groups waved me through on the back…so who was I to refuse?).  Was great to have played a course in Utah…and now had to get to Anchorage and hope for some luck with the weather.  Had plenty of time for a shower, and then hopped back into a Uber car (easiest and cheapest way in these situations as I finally learned) to SLC airport.  Long flight to Anchorage coming up.

Anchorage Country Club, August 21, 2017:  Landed at about 11:50pm…at which point I completed a non-golf bucket list of having been on the ground in all 50 states!  Did Uber again and arrived at hotel near airport (course is just 10 miles away).  It was raining moderately and the forecasts did not look promising for Monday morning.

I woke at about 4:45am (was scheduled to play at 7am)…and forecast still not good…but probably playable.  After getting repacked and dressed in warm clothes…it was forecast to be about 50 when I was to play…was back in a Uber heading to the course.  Place was pretty empty (not surprisingly) and open for play and allowing carts (but restricted to cart paths).  People in pro shop had some chuckles when I explained why I was there…while others had made a similar journey, they said I was the first to finish the 50 state bucket list there (reminded me of the lines some guys used in NY single bars on the Upper East Side in the 70’s and 80’s…but I would never have used such a line).  But the good news was that the rain was down to very few drops…certainly no problem if it stayed this way.

Teed off at about 6:50 and was on my way.  Played poorly as I kept trying to hit my drives on whatever side the part path was on…to save time and steps.  Course surprised me at how good it is…and how good the conditions were.  Yes, lots of standing water but this place has had consistent rain for the last 10 days!  Greens were slow due to rain but true and in excellent condition.  While conditions for viewing the scenery were not ideal, this is in a beautiful area close to the Chugach Mountains and with views of Denali Mountain.  Anchorage was designed by Bill Newcomb and opened in 1987.  It plays to 6601 yards from the tips.  It has never been on a  USA or World 100 (in fact, no course from AK ever has).

Fun course…even if I played poorly…had a 45-43 = 88 but who cared.  Played the front nine wearing a hat from the 2nd course I ever played (Kissena Golf Course, a muni in Queens, where I played most of my golf through high school), and then wore a hat from my first ever course, Honesdale GC in Honesdale, PA (where Art Wall, Jr. who won the Masters in 1959 grew up and learned the game.  First played Honesdale in August 1955.  Finished the round and the 50 sates at 8:55am Alaska time.  Amazingly, the rain stayed very light through 17 holes and on the 18th tee increased in intensity a little, but still not bad (and at that point I didn’t care).  Great luck!  Here’s my picture in the pro shop after the round.

Who is that handsome could have seen him with his sticks in all 50 states 😏

After updating Pat, I called Greg Ohlendorf…a friend from Pinehurst and Chicago who is working to finish a World Top 100 list.  Greg finished his 50 state quest some six years ago, and pointedly noted that fact during our conversation.  However, I was ready for him, and cited the fact that my completion, while 6 years later, was so important, it was accompanied by a huge celestial event, the 2017 Solar Eclipse.  We declared a draw and both finished the conversation smiling!

But the real winner in this is you…as this is one less bucket list you will have to read about in this blog!!

Am now between flights in Seattle and will arrive Fresno, CA around 10:15 tomorrow…the other bucket lists quest continue.  Late Bulletin---luck may be running out...Westjet's servers are down so not sure if my Alaska Air flight from Seattle to Fresno will go tonight...contingency planning starts now! 😩😩

Monday, August 14, 2017

Pacific Northwest (OR and WA) August 5-15, 2017 (Part II)

Pacific Northwest (OR and WA) August 5-15, 2017 (Part II)

One addition to my last post…the hotel room in Seattle also had a yoga mat!
Thursday 8/10 was a travel day.  We left Seattle around 10am and headed east over the Cascade Mountains, then north to an area about 50 miles south of the Canadian border.  This is “Apple Country”…where the land is filled with huge apple orchards (I keep saying “orchids” and Pat keeps correcting my pronunciation). 

Gamble Sands Golf Club, August 11, 2017:  Here in the high Washington desert, David McLay Kidd designed and oversaw the construction of a marvelous new course that opened to huge acclaim in 2014…Gamble Sands.  The $$ and land behind GS came from the Gebbers Family, who made the word “Apple” famous long before Steve Jobs.  Kidd, born and raised in Scotland, had previously became famous in the golfing world with his first design, a course on the coast of Oregon known as Bandon Dunes.  He also designed Nanea, a brilliant course on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Almost immediately after opening GS was included on Golf Week’s 2015 Top 100 USA Modern list at #73…which put it at #154 on my “Merged” list of Classic/Modern, and by 2017, it had moved up to #45 on the Modern list which brought it up to #66 on my Merged list.  It has not cracked the GD Top 100 as yet, and Golf Magazine’s 2017 list has not been released yet.
I unabashedly loved just about everything about it (as did my bride).  It is wide open (none of those funny tall plants commonly known as trees), very very strategic in design (lots of optional ways to play a hole), firm fast 100% fescue grass in wonderful condition…and in a beautiful setting…even with the smoke from the forest fires up north (have to stop blaming the Canadians).  But the best part of GS is the staff…from top to bottom, fun, happy, helpful, and charming.  There is a positive feel to the place that one sees all too rarely. 
There are simply too many superb holes for my two typing fingers to describe…but allow me to try to describe the practice greens.  The one near the clubhouse is a large appendage to the 18th green, and is perfectly located.  

GS practice green in foreground with 18th green connected and just beyond bunker

The larger practice green (known as the Cascades Course) sits behind the “Inn” (which is a great place to stay…about 200 yards from the first tee), and is literally 166 yards long (I measured it with a laser gun…no “approximates” from moi).  It is loaded with moguls etc etc.  (see picture below).  
Cascades Course---166 yards long green behind The Inn...incredible!

I am told by the staff that it also is 2.5 acres in size but I cannot vouch for the precision of that estimate (the website says 100,000 sq ft…or 2.30 acres).  By comparison, Bandon Dunes’ Punchbowl Green is 100,000 sq.ft. (2.30 acres), the practice green at Bandon’s practice facility is 1 acre (43,560 sq. ft.) in size, and the Himalayas green at St. Andrews is 2 acres in size (just over 87,000 sq ft)
The great news is that the Gebbers’ family apparently understands that it takes two courses to make a destination…I have zero inside knowledge, but hopefully a second course will be announced soon.
There are two negatives to Gamble Sands.  First, it makes Bandon Dunes feel convenient and easily accessible (3:40 from Seattle and 2:30 from Spokane...both assuming no traffic).  That will not change…but a second course will make the journey feel more worthwhile (IMHO it is already absolutely worthwhile).  The second issue is the lack of wind.  It was almost dead still in the morning and maybe 5-10 mph in the afternoon.  I asked 2 locals and got the sense that the wind only really blows in the afternoons during shoulder seasons (May-June and September-October).  If that is the case (I have not really researched this except for asking a couple of residents), that is not the ideal climate conditions for true links golf…so, does anyone out there know more about this?
I played great…had a 38-39 = 77 (with a 7 on the par 5 3rd ).  Played from 6207 yards, long for an old fart like me, but the ball runs forever here.  From the back GS plays to a seemingly hefty 7305 yards (par 72)…but plays much shorter (although windy conditions would lengthen the course considerably).  But the name of the game here is to have fun…and that is easy to do here.  Great great course at an even a greater place…worth the trip to the boonies!!

GS #7 hole, 514 yard par 5--Dogleg R, slightly down off the tee, then flat, then uphill to green--I put my second in green side bunker but couldn't get U&D for birdie

GS #17--uphill DL R---428 yards--flag can be seen just over horizon above sand 

After the round, a good lunch, and a trip to the Cascades Course/green to get a good measurement of its length, we were off to our next stop, Walla Walla, in the southeastern corner of WA.

Wine Valley Golf Club, August 12, 2017:  The drive from Gamble Sands to Walla Walla took a good 4 hours.  We were both exhausted upon arrival and the nap most welcomed.  Then the next morning we were playing Wine Valley at 9am.  The area around Walla Walla has a huge agricultural industry (before this trip I had no idea of the size and scope of the agricultural industry here) and a large and growing wine region.  The city center in Walla Walla is in the midst of a successful renovation/restoration effort…our hotel (The Marcus Whitman) and the two restaurants we sampled (Passatempo Taverna and Whitehouse Crawford) were excellent examples (especially Whitehouse Crawford…such a neat place).  But time to get back to important matters like golf courses.
Wine Valley was designed by Dan Hixson and opened in 2009.  Today it stretches to a very hefty 7600 yards (par 72), but being very firm and fast, plays much shorter (but still plenty long).  It is very much in the style of Gamble Sands…wide wide fairways, huge greens, lots of angles and options that vary with pin position and wind.  We very much liked the minimalist “feel” of the club.
WVGC has not been on a USA Top 100, but it was on GW’s Top 100 Modern list from 2011-16 (falling off in 2017) with a high rating of #75 (on the Modern list) in 2015.  It is a very enjoyable fun course, but its bunkering is not as good as Gamble Sands’ and it needs some additional fairway bunkers to present more decisions off the tee.
Next stop, Spokane and Manito G&CC.

Manito Golf & Country Club, August 13, 2017: Manito G&CC was founded in 1917 and then five years later moved to its present location about 4 miles SW of downtown Spokane to a course designed by Arthur Macan.  In 1944, it hosted the PGA Championship won by Bob Hamilton (over heavily favored Byron Nelson in the match play final).  The other three majors were not played in 1944 and the PGA was not played in 1943.
Manito has never been on a Top 100 and frankly shows no signs of deserving such a position.  A nice parkland golf course, but not one I would want to play regularly…does nothing for your “senses” (the “Peanut Gallery” is now saying to themselves that I have no senses….not true…I married Pat!).
I shot a lackluster 40-42 = 82 on an easy course…showing definite lack of concentration…not surprising when one finds an uninteresting course late on a trip.
After the round we headed to our hotel in Spokane and watched the end of the PGA at a bar (room not ready yet).  Critically important comments continue below.

CBS Coverage of PGA:  All I can say is that Frank Chirkinian must be turning in his grave and so are Ken Venturi and Pat Summerall.  Chirkinian was the man who basically wrote the book on great TV coverage of golf for CBS Sports, and Venturi/Summerall were the incomparable pair in the booth overlooking the 18th hole. 
You know the commercials you don’t see while watching the US Open and the Masters?  You can see them all by watching the PGA which shows more commercials per hour than the Super Bowl (good thing there is an outside limit of 60 minutes of commercials per hour)…this is called “Fake TV Golf  Coverage” and no surprise that it is brought to you on a main stream media network.
Additionally Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo had their “green mile” talking points down pat…no need to rehearse something you say about 15 times per hour.
But the final and last straw was the coverage at the end of play.  Justin Thomas had just finished the 72nd hole and had a 2-stroke lead on Kevin Kisner.  Kisner was on the 17th green with a 44’ birdie putt.  If he makes it (admittedly an unlikely event) and then birdies 18, folks, we have a playoff.  Instead of switching to 17, CBS keeps the broadcast on 18 where Thomas (appropriately) is being congratulated and hugged by his 85 handlers and “best friends”…then about 3 minutes later, shows Kisner missing the putt on 17 on replay.  Nice coverage if you are covering a hugging contest, not so great for a golf championship!!  End of Speech!!

Status of Bucket Lists:  While I am sure most of you are keeping score on your own, here is a recap so you can check you numbers:
States played—unchanged at 48 with just Utah and Alaska to go.
Majors Ever—knocked off 2 so only 5 former PGA sites to go (Birmingham CC-MI, Columbine-CO, Keller-MN, Blue Mound-WI, and Norwood Hills-MO)
Top 100 EVER—knocked off 3 and have 8 left.
Cups EVER—knocked off 1 and have 3 left (Greenbrier-WV, Broadmoor East-CO, Denver CC-CO) .
US Senior Open EVER—1 played and 4 left.
US Amateur Ever—1 played and 1 left (Broadmoor-East)
US Mid Amateur—none played so still 3 left
2016/2017 Golf Week 200—I want to finish the full complement of Golf Week Modern and Classic courses from the two most recent years…2 played so 5 courses left.
Total to complete these bucket lists (excluding duplicates)…29
Lifetime course count:  969!!  2017 course count…93…75 new and 18 repeats!!

Next stops…first of all, fly with Pat back to Boston on 8/15.  Then leave evening of 8/19 for a 6 day journey that, if all works as planned, will make important dents on above.  As a hint, planned stops are in MN, AK, UT, CA, NV, and WI…busy 6 days.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Pacific Northwest (OR and WA) August 5-15, 2017 (Part I)

Pacific Northwest (OR and WA) August 5-15, 2017 (Part I)

We landed at Portland’s airport at about 7:30pm in 8/5.  Was a long day…I had played Brookline’s Championship/Composite course that day and am getting a bit old for this (but did have an 80 from the senior tees).  Got rental car and to hotel and quickly to bed.
Sunday we had lunch with an old friend of Pat’s from Milton, and then I went off to Vancouver, WA (about 15 miles north or Portland) to play Royal Oaks CC.  Pat chose to skip Royal Oaks (showing her greater level of wisdom) and spend the afternoon with her old friend from Milton. 
First, three comments on Portland…first, while it is a beautiful city, it is full of homeless people and residents seem to be mystified by this.  Reason is very simple…over generous welfare programs.  Homeless folks, like most folks are fairly bright and know how to vote with their feet…they tend to migrate to locations with overly generous welfare programs…why not?  Second, WA has no income tax and Portland no sales tax.  Lots of smart folks live in Vancouver and go 15 miles south to Portland to do their shopping…I wonder why.  Third, where else would one find a yoga mat in one’s hotel room???

Royal Oaks CC, August 6, 2017:  Designed by Fred Federspiel, ROCC opened with 9 holes and added a second 9 (also by Federspiel) in 1952.  It was renovated by Red Robinson in 1970 and Robert Muir Graves in 1982.  It was included in GD’s 1966 list of USA 200 Toughest, 1969 list of 100 Most Testing (in the #71-80 bracket), and in the 1971 list of 100 Greatest (in the #51-100 bracket).  GW included ROCC on its 1998 and 1999 USA Classic Top 100 at #98 and #83 respectively.  It has never hosted a significant national event.
I was scheduled to play at 3pm and the pro shop advised that a member, Katie, wished to play 9 holes with me.  I guess word of my travels is spreading far and wide.  Turns out that Katie was ROCC’s Woman’s Club Champion, and was practicing in anticipation of qualifying the following day for the US Senior Woman’s Amateur…also turns out that she is a very pleasant woman and we had a nice 9 holes.
In any case, Katie is a better golfer than Royal Oaks is a golf course.  It reminded me in many ways of Sahalee in Seattle.  Once again on the first tee I was thinking I needed a bowling ball instead of a golf ball.  Tree lined and tight for most of the holes…makes one feel claustrophobic, and I hit it pretty straight (see pic).  

Royal Oaks #1 par 4 368 yds, from tee...dogleg left...bunker is on outer corner of dogleg...TIGHT!

Royal Oaks #13 par 5 555yds...view from approach on right side of fairway...No Shot!

Course is also flat with only real elevation change on mildly uphill par 3 8th hole and no “rumples” in fairways.  Holes feel very repetitive.  Greens very good and are the only thing that saves the course…interesting slopes and some great pin positions.  Also, view affected by smoke from fires in British Columbia…obviously will be worse in Washington when we get up there.
On the positive side, I was able to play in 2:55, it is in excellent condition (if a bit too green), and that brings my to do list down to 35!  Had a 39-39 = 78 mostly by putting well.
Drove and south to Portland, Pat and I had a great seafood dinner, and got some sleep.

Portland Golf Club, August 7, 2017:  Founded in 1913, Portland GC had 9 holes designed by Donald Junor and George Turnbull the next year and then an additional 9 (same architects) by 1918.  Since then the course has been altered by John Junoe in 1923, RT Jones in 1950 and ’63, Robert Muir Graves in 1985, John Steidel in 1987, and Robert Cupp in 1991 (I would not have liked being a member from 1985-1991).  It is situated on an excellent piece of property but I believe the tree huggers have thus far won most of the battles.  While not as claustrophobic as Royal Oaks, it is tight on a good number of holes, and the shade certainly affects the quality of the turf (apparently, the course was wide open as originally designed and its trees were planted in the 1920’s).  The greens really make the course and unfortunately we were playing it on Monday, so they had not been cut.  Filled with subtle devilish breaks, I would guess they are something else when they are quick and firm.  Plays to a relatively short 6703 yards (par 72)…but the ball does not fly as far in Portland’s humidity.
The club has a rich history of hosting events including the 1946 PGA Championship (won by Ben Hogan), the 1947 Ryder Cup (USA dominated 11-1), the 1955 Western Open (Cary Middlecoff), the 1982 US Senior Open (Miller Barber), 1999 Senior Am, and 2015 Woman’s Am, as well as the Fred Meyer Challenge form 1986-91.  It appeared to be a superb club (given it was Monday we did not enter the main clubhouse) that some opening up would significantly improve…a tough task in the Pacific NW!
I played well (except for #16) and had a 39-41 = 80.  It was a very hot day and we played in the hottest part of the afternoon.  Fortunately we were able to play in about 3:10.
Never on a Top 100, it was included on GD’s 1966 list of 200 Toughest.

Waverley Country Club, August 8, 2017:  Founded in 1896, this is a club proud of its history…its course is the oldest continuously operated course west of the Mississippi River.  Initially, in 1896 the club’s members played on a 9-hole course in Portland, designed by members.  By the turn of the century, Waverley members were playing at the current facility designed by Jack Moffat…and within another 15 years or so had a club with a course renovated by H. Chandler Egan, a clubhouse designed by the firm of Whitehouse and Fouiloux, and grounds designed by the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., Frederick Jr. and his brother John Charles.  The property included a polo field, which today serves as the practice range.  In 1924 Chandler Egan rebuilt 9 of the greens…and the next major restoration/renovation was by Gil Hanse in 2012 (more below). 
The club has hosted a total of six National Championships:
1952 US Woman’s Open Championship won by Jackie Pung
1964 Men’s Senior Amateur--William Higgins
1970 US Amateur—Lanny Wadkins
1981 US Woman’s Amateur—Julie Inkster
1993 US Junior Championship, Tiger Woods’ first USGA Championship
2000 US Woman’s Amateur—Marcy Newton.
We met a twosome of guys as we were waiting to tee off and they invited us to join them.  Brian S. and Greg P. are both great guys and good players and added much to our round.  And, not surprisingly, we quickly found out we had friends in common, Rick H. and Marjorie M., ISAGS members we met a few years ago in South Africa (and I saw 2 years ago in Bend, OR).
The course sits along the Williamette River south of Portland.  Hanse’s renovation removed some 400 trees (remember, the trees in the Northwest can be huge!), opening up the fairways and vistas. A good number of bunkers that were in the Egan’s original design were also added.  Both Pat and I simply loved the course.  It plays fast and firm, is in superb condition, great concise routing, and presents a wonderful variety of holes and shots.  This is a marvelous piece of property for golf and Hanse brought out the best of it.  From the back tees it plays a relatively short par 72 at 6668 yards.  Best holes are #1, 3, 7-9, 11, 12, and 16-18 (last three holes are par 3, 5, and 5 consecutively with 17 and 18 lying alongside the river).  The only hole I would question is #5, a 463 yard par 5 that is very much lined with trees on both sides and OB on the right.  It in some ways reminded me of #6 at Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz, CA, another par 5 that also is tree lined with out of bounds on one side (right).  Surprisingly, the course has never been included on a USA Top 100.  GD shows it as #11 in Oregon…I think I would place it as #5 (behind the four at Bandon)…but what do I know?  Shot a 40-43 = 83 (a 7 on #17 not helping).

Waverley #1 approach shot...small green guarded by large tree on left and bunker right

Waverley #3 in back of green (view from 4th tee about 50 yds to right of 3rd green)

Waverly Par 3 10th green...sharply sloping from back right to front left...and Clubhouse behind

Waverley's tiny 11th green (169 yd par 3) with huge false front

Waverley #17 par 5 from tee..Williamette River to right

Waverley is also a wonderful club, and its facilities, generally as much as 100 + years old are in extraordinary condition.  All in all, a very special place.
After the round we drove north up to Seattle, stopping for dinner in Olympia, WA.  Fortunately we were not playing until noon on Wednesday.  When we awoke on Wednesday, it became clear (no pun intended) that the smoke from the fires in BC was much worse in Seattle than Portland (not surprisingly) given Seattle’s closer proximity...but thankfully not bad enough to affect our breathing or eyes.

The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge, August 9, 2017:  Formerly a TPC property, this club lies about 30 miles east of downtown Seattle and is a Jack Nicklaus Signature design.  The 18 holes wind through a massive real estate development with homes lining most of the fairways, and long cart rides separating greens from following tees.  It has hosted the annual Boeing Classic on the Champions Tour since the event’s inception in 2005 (this year it will be played August 25-27). 
The course opened in 1999 and shortly thereafter, was rated #33 on GW’s USA Top 100 Modern list in 2001…placing it at #66 on my merged Classic/Modern list.  It fell to #85 on the Modern list (170 on my merged list) in 2002, falling off completely after that…one of the fastest falls from grace I have seen (and frankly, very appropriate).
It plays to 7264 yards from the tips, and probably has a series of spectacular views, but these were mostly obscured by the smoke.  The course has zero flow because of all the housing and several highly questionable holes (most questionable being #14, a downhill 90 degree dogleg left).  It was hot, and we were stuck behind a slow foursome who would not wave us through (we ended up skipping the par 3 9th and going from 8 to 10, playing the back nine and then playing the par 3 9th).  All in all not a great experience, even though I had a 39-39 =78.  Frankly, Seattle does not rank high on my list of cities with great courses!
We drove back to Seattle after the round for much needed naps and showers…followed by with superb dinner at Shaker + Spear…if you go there, have the Red Snapper…hard to describe how it is prepared and presented (the whole fish), but great fun and delicious.  Seattle too edgy for these old folks but not bad for a couple of days.

Next post…Gamble Sands and Wine Valley, both in central WA, and then Manito G& CC in Spokane (eastern WA)…have already played the first two and playing Manito tomorrow.