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                                                                                                                                          Circling Raven, Coeur d’Alene, and
                                                                                                                                                 Palouse Ridge are to die for
                                                                                                                                                                         BY HAL QUINN
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CIRCLING RAVEN GC




                                                   There are almost as many ways to rate a     every kind of must-play list really should be      The Gene Bates-designed Circling Raven
                                                   golf course, as there are golf swings.      expanded to less heralded but equally worthy       near Worley, Idaho, is a modern classic.
                                          And, like swings, some rating methods are bet-       (and usually more accessible) golf courses such
                                          ter than others. The purest way, requiring no        as Idaho’s Circling Raven.                         visiting the resort just south of Creston, B.C.,
                                          charts or graphs or questionnaires, is simply to        As in many areas of North America, great        are the beneficiaries.
                                          ask yourself at the end of a round if you’d like     expanses of land for the creation of new golf         Gene Bates worked for years with Jack
                                          nothing better than to walk right over to the        courses are often held by First Nations peoples.   Nicklaus and Gary Player and has built a couple
                                          first tee and do it all again. At a spectacular      In too many cases, large tracts of land aren’t     dozen courses with Fred Couples (most recently
                                          course on the northern panhandle of Idaho, the       always transformed into classic golf layouts,      The Rise, in Vernon, B.C.), and a dozen with
                                          answer is an unhesitant and resounding yes.          but that is certainly the case just outside        Johnny Miller. Bates was the only applicant who
                                              Most golfers, as their games and playing lives   Worley, Idaho. On a spectacular 400 acres,         explored the entire property, including land on
                                          progress, develop wish lists of courses they’d       the Schi’tsu’umsh people (called Coeur d’Alene     the other side of the Burlington Northern rail-
                                          love to play if their wildest dreams came true.      by the French Canadian fur traders of the          way line running through this section of the
                                          All the usual suspects make it on most of the        1800s) wisely chose among many course              tribe’s 345,000-acre reservation. It was well
                                          mental lists or refrigerator Post-it Notes. But      architects vying for the contract. All golfers     worth it as one tunnel under the rails now


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                                                                                                                                                  PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PALOUSE RIDGE GC
                                     leads to holes two through five (each one a             Washington State University's Palouse
                                     gem), and another to holes 11 through 17.               Ridge passes every golf test magna cum
                                         The first clue that the Circling Raven GC is        laude.
                                     something special is revealed just a short stroll
                                     from the on-site resort hotel and casino. It’s the      meal at the deservedly five-star Beverley’s
                                     25-acre practice facility, short game area, putting     restaurant sustain the mood from the meticu-
                                     greens, wedge range and driving range. Avid             lously manicured golf course. From the deluxe
                                     golfers could happily spend half the day there.         carts — heated seats, tilt steering, chrome
                                     It’s included in the green fee and provides the         wheels, carpeted floors, cherry wood grain dash-
                                     perfect warm up for the great Bates design that         boards, towel compartments, ball and club
                                     one publication recently ranked 17th in the U.S.’s      washers, coolers — to the Honduran mahogany
                                     Top 100 public courses based on value. The rate         launches that take guests across the water on a
                                     is $95 (all figures US) including range and GPS-        10-minute ride to and from the resort, Coeur
                                     equipped cart. On weekdays from September               d’Alene bespeaks unique and top of the market.
                                     28th to closing, the fee is just $50.                      The front feels a little cramped (the course is
                                         Since its 2003 opening, Circling Raven has been     just 6,343 from the tips) with three par 3s
                                     climbing the rankings in almost every category.         (including back-to-back at five and six), but the
                                     With each hole in splendid isolation — you might        winds off the lake and elevation changes make
                                     not see another group on the back nine — Bates          it more than interesting. It opens up on the back
                                     puts it all in front of the golfer and invites all to   (almost 300 yards longer) and a string of fine
                                     test as much of their game as they want from the        holes lead to the signature par-3 14th with its
                                     five sets of tees. The 7,189-yard course encom-         15,000-square-foot, five-million-pound island
                                     passes 400 acres but just 100 acres are turf. The       green floating in the lake. The forecaddie with
                                     rest is rugged, natural, and beautiful Idaho.           each group provides yardage to the pin and haz-
                                         Just 35 minutes up the highway, there is very       ards for each player, and helps read putts. Their
                                     little rugged or rustic about the Coeur d’Alene         $40 fee is on top of the $270 July–August green
                                     Golf and Spa Resort. As naturally as Circling           fee ($195 if you’re staying at the resort with
                                     Raven sits on its site, Coeur d’Alene feels placed      rooms ranging from $199 to $597 based on dou-
                                     here on the shores of the lake by the same              ble occupancy), that drops to $198 and $170
                                     name. But it works too, because the whole               after September 1.
                                     point of this remarkable resort and golf course is         For something completely different, the less
                                     that it’s, well, virtually perfect. You can place as    than two-hour drive west from Coeur d’Alene or
                                     many stars on the resort as you want, it’s that         Circling Raven is well worth it once you tee it up
                                     good. Post-round cocktails at Dockside or a fine        at the Palouse Ridge GC in Pullman, just over the


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Washington State border. This is
the new home course for
Washington State University and
homework has never been more
fun. The John Harbottle design can
be tougher than a mid-term after a
late night at 7,308 yards, but offers
multiple choices of tee boxes down
to 5,106 yards. A beautiful, chal-
lenging but fair design, it borders
on minimalist with fescue-trimmed
bunkers and hard, fast fairways.
There are tremendous wide-open
views from the tees of the rolling
farmland that surrounds Palouse
with pure golf holes constantly
vying for your attention. After a
refreshing pause at Banyon’s on the
Ridge with its patio at the back of
the 7,000-square-foot clubhouse,
the strong temptation will be to
tee it up again.
   Three unique and memorable
courses, all deserving a spot on
the list.

   GETTING THERE:
The Circling Raven/Coeur d’Alene
resort area is about 450 km from
Calgary; 500 km from Vancouver; and
260 km from Cranbrook. Most major
airlines fly into Spokane, Wash.,
a 45-minute drive from the resorts.

   WHERE TO STAY:
The Circling Raven Casino Resort and
Hotel offers moderately priced, full-
service accommodations. The Coeur
d’Alene Resort is one of the finest
resorts in the Northwest. The two
facilities offer very attractive stay
and play packages that include
play on both courses.

  FOR MORE
INFORMATION:
Stay & Play Golf Package reservations,
Circling Raven Casino Resort & Hotel,
call 1-800-688-5253 or visit
www.cdacasino.com;
Coeur d’Alene Resort,
call 1-800-688-5353 or visit
www.cdaresort.com;
Palouse Ridge GC,
www.palouseridge.com.


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