Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Has Something Special to Offer with the Oddest Green Around
Perhaps it’s just that I am denizen of the Pacific Northwest, and am spellbound by all western American or Canadian country. I never tire of the alpine scene or the ubiquitous water, in ocean to the west and lakes everywhere else. Even in what I consider to be Paradise, there is one stretch of real estate that throws me for a loop every time I see it. Travel across the interesting prairie lands from the Yakima Valley toward Spokane, and you will suddenly come upon a thriving, modern city with all the amenities. From Spokane, it’s all up to and through the Rockies, but the first appearance of the range isn’t all that gradual. Twenty miles out, you reach Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, a true geographic jewel if there ever was one. The water of the expansive lake is a particularly rich blue, and the sun-heavy climate turns it into a sparkling play land. And, if you’re a golfer, be prepared for one of the most beautiful, and most odd rounds of your life. My only disappointment in Coeur d’Alene was that I thought it translated into “The heart of Ellen…or Elaine.”Â I’ve spent years wondering who Ellen was. Au contraire -it means “the heart of the awl.” French trappers used this name for the indigenous people, because they were such shrewd traders. However, I will let all of that pass.
Duane Hagadonis let his imagination run wild for the course at Coeur d’Alene and its posh resort, which one reaches by boat. Incredible walks through the forest abound, along with bunkers that on occasion parallel an entire fairway and continue around the back of the green. Imagine the 16th at Augusta, change the water to sand, and extend it behind the putting surface. The course runs at about 6,309 yards from the long tees.Â Despite all the sand and water elsewhere, #2 is rumored to be the most difficult hole on the course, a slightly right dog leg par 4. All you need to do is hit it straight several times in a row, and its amazing how difficult that simple mission can be at times. Of course there is the headwind off the lake- big hitters won’t like that. When you reach the water holes such as #13, an idea starts to form about what is ahead. Teeing off is done over an inlet of the lake, with water all the way along the fairway. Get that behind you, and there is #14, one of the strangest and most fun par 3s in the United States.
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Away with your TPC icon. How about a true island green, approachable only by boat? Being a man-made island, the 14th green is not an unchangeable fixture at Coeur d’Alene. It floats, and is operated by an intricate system of underwater cables. Computer controlled, #14 can be an entirely different par 3 every day. A player gets two chances to land on its 15,000 square feet area before heading to the wooden electric boat shuttling each foursome to the 22,000 ton behemoth. It must be hard to hit, though. A total of 28,000 balls are collected from the water every year,
Play the course as short as long as you like. Some holes can be negotiated from 90 to 220 yards apart, depending on which tees you choose. The whole adventure is about $140 per round. If you have it, make the call, and if you don’t, start saving up. It could be a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. The rest of the course isn’t any less interesting, except that on #14, the boat captain gives each player a personalized “Certificate of Achievement.” It will at least prove that you’ve been there, and there’s a restaurant looking over the island green that will go far in soothing rattled nerves. The resort has added an over-water practice tee to get you in the right mental place, although statistically, it doesn’t seem to have helped whoever put those 28,000 balls in the drink.
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Whatever your fate on the floating green, the course is magnificent, the Resort is one of the finest around, and the Coeur d’Alene country is unforgettable as a gateway to the Idaho and Montana Rockies.