VOLUME 14 • ISSUE 5 • DECEMBER 2020 • COMPLIMENTARY
WHO’S YOUR DADDY Drive The Pacific Coast Links Highway Stocking Stuffers For Your Favorite Golfer Win Golf At Your Favorite Local Courses NO RTHWEST GO LF N EWS & VI E W S
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Volume 14 • Issue 5 • DECEMBER 2020
Cascade Golfer is published and owned by Varsity Communications, Inc. This publication is e-mailed free to over 100,000 readers throughout the Seattle area.
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• Looking back at a wild year • Cascade Golfer Cup goes overtime • Seattle Golf Show postponed to 2022
• 2021 NW Golfers Playbook • Gig Harbor-based putting game takes off • Tour pros endorsing new Putting Mat
INSIDE Feature COASTIN’
CG publisher Dick Stephens took the west’s most epic golf road trip, playing every links gem from Chambers Bay to Pebble Beach STORY BY DICK STEPHENS
16 IN THE BAG
• Titleist TSi drivers • Callaway Big Bertha B21 • Mizuno JPX921 irons • PING Blueprint irons • Callaway Mack Daddy CB wedge
23 RISK VS REWARD
• Nile Shrine Golf Course | Hole No. 2
48 SAVE SOME GREEN
• Our favorite offseason values
• We can’t do it without you
ACCOUNTING STAFF DIRECTOR OF FINANCE Bobbi Kramer
PUETZ GOLF SAVINGS 18 - 21
COPYRIGHT 2020 Cascade Golfer. PRINTED IN THE USA. All rights reserved. Articles, photos, advertising and/ or graphics may not be reprinted without the written permission of the publisher. Advertising and editorial contained herein does not constitute endorsement of Cascade Golfer or Varsity Communications, Inc. Publisher reserves the right to edit letters, photos and copy submitted and publish only excerpts. The publisher has made every effort to ensure the accuracy of all material contained in this issue. However, as unpredictable changes and errors do occur, the publisher can assume no liability for errors, omissions or changes. All photos are courtesy of the course or individual unless otherwise noted.
PRODUCER AND OWNER OF THE
West Seattle Golf Course • Seattle cascadegolfer.com
Photo by Rob Perry/robperry.com
PROUD CHARTER MEMBER
Celebrating “a tradition unlike any other” — The 2020 (Fall) Masters on CBS
loved it! We needed it. The sport glowed and basked in the autumn light because of it. It was the perfect capstone to golf’s most unusual season and year. And, a new king was crowned in what may be viewed as a full coming-of-age, with Dustin Johnson putting on a show for the entire world to see. The Masters in November? Who would have ever thought of it? Surely, not Bobby Jones nor any of the past steering committee members of Augusta National Golf Club. And, it was never something CBS would have been all-in on in the past, as NCAA and NFL football rule the day. But, this is not a normal time and the powers that be pulled off a real masterpiece. For me, it was a “win for the ages,” as Jim Nantz might have put it. In fact, Nantz’s famous CBS promo slogan, “A tradition unlike any other,” might have been even more fitting this year. Usually, it’s one of the hardest tickets to get in sports, with fans around the globe entering a lottery and waiting for years to see if their number pops up. Not this year. Even in the south, where they are allowing crowds for football, there wasn’t a single gallery pass issued to anywhere, to anyone. The grandstands at Augusta typically are cathedrals of dark-green structures filled with fans in shorts and skirts and light pullovers. This year, it was odd and blank-looking; but, then,
for me it turned beautiful and was like watching golfers play in a park. The whole acreage there is designed to have stadium seating, and chalets and food courts and areas for 100,000 fans to roam perfectly. This year,when a ball bounced over the green, instead of hitting a mesh fence covering a seating scaffold it would roll 30 yards across pristine turf. Shots that would never be struck in the past were part of the 2020 mystique of the quiet Masters. To see Jon Rahm’s practice par-3 shot dance and skip over the pond, and then do a 25-second, hard-banking left turn (a la Larry Mize) into the cup for an ace and hear 10-12 people cheer was silently deafening. To see the players so relaxed and talking to one another, even cheering on their playing partners, was inspiring. The weather was warm and favorable, but the course played soft and slower, like turning an old-school 78 LP down to 45 on the turntable. Greens that would normally roll at 10-14 on the meter were an eight. Left-to-right breaks were minimal. Tee shots plugged at times and shots taken right at the stick were marksman-like. It was GREAT golf TV. And, D.J., who for so long we watched and pulled for, become a guy that CAN finish off the majors, can hold a lead, and won’t fold amid the pressure of being a world No. 1. D.J. rose to the occasion and slipped on his first green jacket. It
See my Pacific Links Trail story on page 24
was perfect. And, having Tiger play the role of valet and help D.J. put on the blazer in Butler Cabin was event more perfect, the greatest of one generation passing the torch to one of the greatest of the next generation. The D.J. who crumbled on the 72nd hole before my very eyes at the U.S. Open at Chambers in 2015 is not the Master that he’s evolved into today. We’d love to hear your thoughts on golf’s finest hour. Post them to our Facebook page, enjoy the holidays safely, wear a mask and, as always, TAKE IT EASY.
This Season, Gift Yourself Some Free Golf From CG!
Whidbey Golf Course • Oak Harbor
‘Tis the season of giving — and, this month, we’re getting in the spirit by giving away free golf to some of our favorite destinations, including both Whidbey and Highlander Golf Courses! Plus, we’re kicking in Northwest Golfers Playbooks with every deal — you’ll be playing golf all summer long at our state’s top tracks, and saving on every round!
And hey, don’t forget about last month’s contests! Congratulations to these lucky winners from the August issue of Cascade Golfer:
• Highlander G.C. Foursome and a NW Golfers Playbook • Page 7
Whidbey G.C. Foursome & Port Ludlow Twosome Susan Makay • Sammamish
• Whidbey G.C. Foursome and a NW Golfers Playbook • Page 12
Foursome to Highlander G.C. Bill Tanay • Renton
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SHORT GAME Auburn Golf Course • Auburn
Thanks To You, Our Courses Didn’t Just Survive This Summer ... They Thrived
f we’re being totally honest, there was a time in the spring when we weren’t sure how bad the devastation in the golf industry was going to get. Eaglemont went under relatively early in the pandemic, unable to make ends meet after a multi-month closure. Local and national retailers were going out of business, the second day of the Seattle Golf Show was cancelled, and courses across the state were sitting empty at a time when they should have been packed. Taking a snapshot of the landscape in those first two months, it was easy to wonder if anyone would survive. As we near the end of 2020, though, the story couldn’t be any different. When golf was put back in play by the governor’s office in May, it was the only game in town. As such, not only did golf-starved addicts like ourselves flock back to the course, but so did thousands of area residents who had never tried the sport before, but were desperate for some outdoor activity and a chance to socialize (safely, of course) with friends. What’s more, our new work-at-home schedules made squeezing in a morning or afternoon round on a weekday (or, just taking the whole darned day off) a breeze. The combined
“At Salish Cliffs Golf Club, COVID forced us to go away from the hands-on, full-service experience that guests have come to expect. Despite us not carrying bags and cleaning clubs, our guests are still getting one of the best and safest golfing experiences in the Northwest.” Chris Koch, Salish Cliffs G.C. 6
result was that our courses were more packed this summer than they’ve ever been, managing not only to survive the two-month lockdown, but actually end the year on par with, or even ahead of, their annual revenue projections. Earlier this month, we checked in with some of our favorite courses to learn more about how the managed to get through this crazy year, and their responses are included below. To all of you who worked so hard to keep our courses open, and those of you who handed over your hardearned (and increasingly scarce) dollars this year to keep them alive — the next drink is on us. Dan Shepherd, Circling Raven G.C. “Circling Raven Golf Club finished its 16th full season with perhaps the strongest business performance in the past 12 years. Total revenue was up roughly 20 percent. The golf club, an amenity of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s casino resort, started the year early thanks to favorable weather, and it finished strong. Several factors coalesced that drove the banner season, not the least of which was the pandemic. The golf club never closed, and Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel was one of the first to open nationally. This was the result of the aggressive best practices that were implemented to safeguard guests, visitors, and staff.”
“The 2020 season for Auburn Golf Course overall has been phenomenal. At the beginning of the year, we had extreme flooding that closed the course for nearly two weeks in February, followed by the six-week COVID closure. Since then, it has been crazy busy with the demand for golf through the roof. With every day completely booked a full week in advance through the summer months, we were turning away approximately 100 players per day. By the end of the year, our total revenue numbers will probably reach the highest we have ever seen. It will be a year we never forget.” Chris Morris, Auburn Golf Course “Losing six weeks in the critical timeframe was a huge loss for Wine Valley. After the closure, Wine Valley reopened with new procedures in every department, a main focus on safety for employees and guests and, as always, a welcoming and friendly attitude. Many of our guests noted that they had canceled long-planned vacations to far-off locales, and instead stayed close to home and visited Wine Valley and the Walla Walla region. Staff levels got back to normal by mid-June and rounds of golf were up by 31 percent from June through October in comparison to 2019.”
Chris Issacson, Wine Valley G.C. cascadegolfer.com
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any golfers played more than ever in 2020, turning those unfortunate furloughs or work-from-home days into excuses to get out of the house and onto the links. So, it’s no surprise that the Northwest Golfers Playbook — packed with discounts to more than 100 courses throughout Washington and Oregon — proved to be just as popular as it’s ever been. At just $39.99, the Northwest Golfers Playbook has become the most popular golf discount book in the Northwest, allowing golfers to take advantage of more than $4,700 in savings to courses like Gamble Sands, Salish Cliffs, White Horse, The Home Course, Port Ludlow, Avalon, Wine Valley, Loomis Trail, Highlander and more. In addition to that Murderer’s Row, our region’s favorite munis and family-owned tracks have also been well-represented, including Eagles Pride, Meadow Park, High Cedars and all of the Premier Golf courses (Jackson Park, Jefferson Park, West Seattle, Bellevue, etc.). That exhaustive list doesn’t even account for half of the participating Washington courses (more than two-thirds of which are in Western Washington) or the 40-plus deals to your favorite Central Oregon and
Portland-area tracks. Golfers can take advantage of 4-for-3 and 2-for-1 deals, plus stay-and-play packages, discounted rounds and lessons, free carts, club repairs, apparel savings and more. And, you’ll get $10 in Puetz Bucks with every book! Nearly all the rounds are good weekdays and weekends after noon, with a full list of restrictions available to preview at NWGolfersPlaybook.com. In many cases, it takes using just one deal for the book to pay for itself — everything after that is just gravy. It’s like having Groupons to all of your favorite courses, without having to scour the website for deals, or pull your phone out at every stop. Those savings are more important than ever these days, as we all tighten our purse strings just a little bit to make sure we can get through to the other side of this pandemic. But, we don’t have to give up the things we want, like golf, just to make sure we have enough money to cover the things we need, like food. The Playbook allows golfers to stretch their dollar a little further, squeezing a few extra rounds out of that golf budget without putting a dent in the rent, mortgage or groceries.
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Even sweeter, our readers can save $5 online by using the discount code SAVEBIGONGOLF. That means you’ll get the same $4,700 in total value, for just $34.99. So, if you find yourself thinking ahead to 2021 — or, maybe, trying to find a low-cost gift with a big bang for its buck for the golfer in your life — a Playbook is a solid bet, allowing you (or your loved one) to choose what courses you want to play, on schedules that work for you, with significant savings each time out. And, best of all, each time they pull out their book to save at a golf course (or on lessons, or in local golf retailers), they’ll think of you and your generosity. It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving.
Win a Foursome to Highlander and a NW Golfers Playbook!
hat’s better than a free foursome at one of our state’s most scenic tracks? How about discounts on just about every other round you’ll play in 2021, including the Puget Sound region’s top local favorites and several destination gems? That’s what you’ll take home with this package, which includes a foursome to Highlander Golf Course in East Wenatchee, and a 2021 Northwest Golfers Playbook, packed with discounts to nearly 100 of the state’s top tracks. It’s a long summer weekend all in one! Enter to win today at CascadeGolfer.com.
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Highlander G.C. • East Wenatchee
SHORT GAME Against All Odds, Cascade Golfer Cup Closes Out Remarkable Year
hen the pandemic first hit back in March, the Cascade Golfer Cup was the farthest thing from our minds. Like you, we were instead trying to answer questions like, “Am I going to be OK?” “Do I still have a job?” and “Wait, I’m supposed to teach my kids math now?” As the weeks went on, it became clear that we weren’t going to be kicking off our season at Chambers Bay the way we usually would. Slowly, though, restrictions began to ease, and golf courses — and, importantly, golfers — showed enthusiasm for making whatever necessary adjustments we needed to make to pull off at least some kind of CG Cup series. So it was that, on June 27, the series finally kicked off at Druids Glen, launching a planned series of four events (down from our usual seven) that would wrap up Sept. 5 at White Horse. The tournaments looked a little different, for sure — gone was the usual pre-round hubbub around the first tee, as teams check in, size each other up on the range and practice green, and load into carts to head out onto the course for a shotgun start. Tee times were used this year to limit the number of players checking in at any one time, and spread players out on the course as much as possible. Gone, too, was the traditional post-round meal and awards party,
with teams instead notified after the fact about how they finished, and given the opportunity to choose from a range of prizes. Those prizes, though, were just as good as they’ve always been — better, in fact, since we took prizes planned to stretch out over seven events and instead packed them into five, jamming each event with more and better prizes than ever before. Teams took home trips to Bandon Dunes, Maui, Sunriver, Mesquite, Coeur d’Alene, Las Vegas and more; twosomes and foursomes to Salish Cliffs, The Home Course, Wine Valley, Suncadia, Loomis Trail, Apple Tree, Port Ludlow, White Horse, Highlander and other great Northwest tracks; plus golf gear and other great prizes. Our turnout was amazing — so good, in fact, that we added a bonus event at Chambers Bay in October to cap the year, expanded our prize pool to include the top-20 teams in both net and gross standings, and gave away a whopping 12 hole contest prizes, as we tried to blow out everything we had left to give away at the end of the year. Winning teams and lists of prizes from all five events can be viewed at CascadeGolfer.com/Cup. We can’t say enough to the players, teams and golf course staff that helped these events happen this year. Not only did you help keep the
Cup alive, but you brought a little light into our lives at each event. Seeing our longtime players, welcoming in so many new faces, and just experiencing a little normalcy amidst the chaos that has been 2020 reminded us of why we love hosting these tournaments so much, and connecting with our readers on a 1-to-1 basis. Hopefully, you enjoyed yourself on the course, walked away with some cool swag, and were able, just for a few hours, to get away from the pandemonium we’re all experiencing, and have a little fun. If all breaks right, we’ll be back strong again in 2021, with our full, seven-event series and, hopefully, the chance to gather together once again at our post-round meals to toast each other, share stories, and celebrate a great day on the golf course with our good friends. We miss you all, and are eternally grateful for your support. Thank you for making the Cascade Golfer Cup happen in 2020, and we can’t wait to be with you again next year.
In the “Sun Belt”
At The Golf Course
in Washington for Best Value by GolfAdvisor.com
Local Inventors Launch Golf Game That Blends Putting, Puzzling
s a golf writer, my love of golf is only surpassed by my love of words. When the weather is too dark and dreary to be out on the course, but I still need to scratch that competitive itch, you’ll often find me filling out a crossword puzzle, doing a word scramble, or trying to decode a cryptogram in one of those puzzle books that seem to only exist in airport gift shops. So, when a press release arrived in my inbox about a putting game that doubles as a word puzzle — and one with Gig Harbor connections, no less — you can see why it caught my eye. The game is GolfWords, and the premise is simple: golfers simply roll out the 13-foot GolfWords mat, which includes a grid of letters of differing point values, not unlike those you’d typically see on a Scrabble tile. There are multiple ways to go from there, but the “Scramble” version of the game has proven to be the most popular — in that version, each golfer putts six balls, then attempts to make the highest-scoring word possible using their six letters. You can also try to make the longest word possible, putt to letters in a certain order to spell specific words, plus many other variations. “It is addictive in the best possible way,” says co-inventor David L. Hoyt. If Hoyt’s name sounds familiar, you’re probably a puzzler. Hoyt is one of the most renowned puzzle masters on the planet, the author of the “Jumble” word game that is syndicated in newspapers worldwide and played by millions every day. Hoyt has also invented dozens of other popular word games, though GolfWords is the first to blend his dueling passions. cascadegolfer.com
“I make word games played by millions of people each day, and I love golf. GolfWords perfectly blends these two passions of mine,” Hoyt says. “As [co-inventor] Don Parker and I developed and began to play GolfWords with people, it quickly became clear that we had something special.” Hoyt and Parker, a longtime PGA professional, first met in Chicago before relocating to Gig Harbor earlier this spring and taking their new venture to the mainstream. Over the past several months, the game has been a regular feature on the patio at Gig Harbor Golf Club, where the two men are both members, and has been popular with families looking for fun ways for kids to learn through golf, clubs looking for a new amenity to their 19th hole, and golfers looking to work on tempo and speed in a fun, competitive environment. As a longtime teaching professional, Parker says that he knew the game would serve as an effective training aid, but may have underestimated just how popular it would become with even casual golfers. “[The way the game] challenges putting set-up and control can reap dividends on the course,” he says. “But, the best feeling is the delight we see in people playing the game. Golfers and non-golfers are catching on quickly and finding words, surprising themselves, and sharing a lot of fun.” For now, the game is only available on the duo’s website, GolfWords.com, with shipping currently available in time for Christmas. “I’ve never seen a reaction to a game like we’re seeing with GolfWords,” Parker says. “Everybody loves it!”
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Camaloch Golf Course
camalochgolf.com DECEMBER 2020
SHORT GAME Perfect Putting Mat Rides Social Media Endorsements to Mainstream Success
hen Ballard native and UW grad Karsten Solheim was trying to market his new style of putter in the 1960s — what would become the revolutionary PING Anser — no golf shop was willing to listen. They called it crazy, and “double-ugly.” No self-respecting golfer would ever use one, he was told — it just didn’t look anything like the putters golfers were used to seeing their favorite pros use on TV. So, Solheim did the logical thing — he took his putters to every PGA TOUR event he could drive to and left them by the practice green, then waited to see if Tour players would pick them up and give them a try. Of course, they did, consumers soon followed suit, and the flatstick industry was forever changed. Sixty years later, Oren Kantor is following in Solheim’s footsteps to get the word out about his new in-home putting trainer, the Perfect Putting Mat. It seems that there are a million new putting trainers on the market each year — shoot, we’re writing about two in this issue! — so Kantor knew that he had to go to extra lengths to help his product stand out from the chaff. So, Kantor did the same as Solheim — though, with a modern twist. Using social media, Kantor reached out to dozens of PGA and LPGA Tour stars to offer free samples of the mat, asking them to simply try it out, with no obligations whatsoever. Over the ensuing months, the reviews started coming in — two-time PGA TOUR winner Smylie Kaufman was the first to endorse the Perfect Putting Mat online, posting a video of himself using it on Instagram. Then, Jimmy Walker reached out. So did Vijay Singh. LPGA superstar Lydia Ko called it the “perfect tool for rainy-day practice.” By the time Paulina Gretzky posted videos of herself and hubby Dustin Johnson using one in their home during the quarantine, the product was a legit sensation. 10
What sets the Perfect Putting Mat apart? Well, there’s a few things. First is the quality of the mat itself — its turf is more consistent with real grass than that on most carpet-style mats you’ll find, meaning you get a truer roll and more accurate feedback. On most surfaces, the mat rolls at a 10 to 14 on the Stimpmeter, which is more in line with most on-course speeds than mats which use thinner carpet, or thicker artificial turf surfaces. Second are the alignment aids that provide a valuable scaffold to assist your development — not only are distances marked in feet and inches for the full length of the mat (up to 15 feet on the longest model), but there are straight lines drawn to the center of each hole, plus, on one side, three lines that help monitor your face angle and stroke path throughout your swing. Finally, it works in a progressive way, allowing golfers to increase the challenge as they become more competent. Once putts are flowing consistently into the larger, regulation hole, golfers can shift to the smaller, practice hole; when that, too, is mastered, golfers can try setting up on one side and putting to the opposite hole to test their ability to make putts without the assistance of the alignment lines.
Ten-time Tour winner and 2016 PGA Champion Jimmy Walker started using the mat this summer, during a season in which he would ultimately finish just 159th on Tour in strokes gained putting, at -.349. So far in 2021? He’s improved by nearly two-thirds of a stroke per round, to .294, and climbed all the way up to 85th. “It rolls perfect, and you can get really great feedback about your putting stroke,” Walker said earlier this year. “I walk by it and I stop and putt for five minutes. You do that all day long and it makes a difference.” The mat comes in three models of varying lengths and widths. On the smallest model (eight feet long and nine inches wide), which sells for $139.99 at Puetz Golf, only the reduced-size training hole is included, along with the threeway alignment lines. Both larger models (9’-6” and 15’-6”, respectively) include the second, regulation hole and an additional single-line alignment aid, and retail for $169.99 (standard) and $199.99 (XL). If we’re going to be stuck inside for another few months, we might as well come out of it with a better putting stroke. Check out PuetzGolf.com or visit your local Puetz store to learn more. cascadegolfer.com
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SHORT GAME Next Year’s Seattle Golf Show Postponed
f all of the events we run throughout the Seattle area each year — golf tournaments, awards parties, even high-end foodand-wine benefits for the James Beard Foundation — none are as joyful or as meaningful to us as the Seattle Golf Show. Not only do we get our first chance to see and swing the clubs we’ll all be talking about in the year ahead, and take advantage of exclusive savings on late-model clubs from all the big names, but we also get to connect with friends and colleagues from over 125 golf courses and related businesses, play fun chipping and putting games, get free lessons from PGA pros and talk, laugh and joke with over 10,000 golfers from throughout the Seattle area. It’s the one time of the year that our entire golfing community — retailers, teaching pros, GMs, golf writers, greenskeepers, inventors, manufacturers, golfers and more — comes together in one place, to kick off the season and celebrate the game we all love. Which is why it was tough for us to make the decision to postpone next year’s show. Typically held in early March (indeed, this year’s show was cut to one day as the spread of COVID-19 increased rap-
idly in early March), we simply can’t guarantee that conditions will have improved enough for us to all gather safely at the Lumen Field Event Center the way we usually would. Even if the governor were to announce tomorrow that it was OK to resume large indoor events, putting together an event of that size, in this short time frame, would be like trying to hole one out from 150 yards. If conditions do improve over the course of the winter and spring, it’s possible that we might try to bring everyone back in 2021, or maybe even host a virtual event; worst-case scenario, we’re planning to be back in full swing by March of 2022, when — hopefully — it will be safe once
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again to meet up with all of you and kick off the golf season in style. Our friends at Puetz, and the local courses and businesses that pack the floor at the golf show, will still have the same great deals they’d usually be offering — you’ll just have to go visit them, or their websites, to take advantage, as opposed to circling the aisles. And, when it is safe for us to all be together again, we will be. Until then, know that we are keeping you all in our hearts and minds, and look forward to the time we can throw open the doors of the golf show, hand you as much free golf as you can carry, and celebrate the dawn of another incredible Northwest golf season.
Whidbey Golf G.C. • No. 14
e’re all hoping to play a lot of golf in 2021 — as much as our schedule and budget will allow. We can’t help with the first part of that formula, but the second? Oh, you betcha. We’re giving the winner of this CG Swag package a 2021 Northwest Golfers Playbook, packed with discounts to courses, retailers and golf businesses all over the state. Save on greens fees, carts and more at up to 100 golf courses throughout the state of Washington; get your game in gear with discounted lessons or driving range tokens; and save big on clothes, club fittings and more at Puetz! Whether planning a summer getaway with friends, or going out as a single at the local muni, there’s plenty of savings to be had. And, to make it even sweeter, we’re starting you off with a free foursome at Whidbey Golf Club, too! If that sounds like a sweet deal to you, then enter your name at CascadeGolfer.com, and you could walk away a winner!
Join us at Eagle’s Pride or Whispering Firs this winter.
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SHORT GAME Henry Mills
THE “A” LIST Over the past five years, Duke’s Seafood has awarded more than $20,000 in scholarships to local junior golfers. Congratulations to all of these outstanding recipients:
Duke’s Seafood Has Awarded More than $20,000 To Young Golfers Since 2016
Ty Albrecht, 17 (Dec. ‘19). . . . . . . . . . $500 Tucker Alexander, 18 (Aug. ‘16). . . . . $1,000 Joseph Andy, 16 (Apr. ‘18). . . . . . . . . $1,000
ive years ago, Duke’s Seafood COO John Moscrip had an idea. A former junior golfer himself, Moscrip knew firsthand the financial challenges that come with the territory, especially for those golfers who desire to compete on the top level of the junior scene — lessons, equipment, tournament fees, travel. Even for the son of Duke’s founder Duke Moscrip, it was tough to make ends meet at times, and eventually, Moscrip made the tough decision to stop pursuing a career in golf and instead help run the family business. That business, of course, has been a huge success — from its original home at Green Lake, Duke’s has seven locations throughout the Puget Sound region, multiple bestselling cookbooks and a reputation for sustainable sourcing and innovative preparation of the finest fish and steaks you’ll find, all in a casual atmosphere that makes it just as popular for families as first dates. And, there’s nothing quite like that Duke’s clam chowder ... So, Moscrip thought, why not share that success with the community? And, specifically, use Duke’s resources to help present-day junior golfers get a head start on their golfing careers? Moscrip reached out to Cascade Golfer, and just like that, the Duke’s Junior Golf Scholarship was born. 14
Name • Age • CG Issue
For the past five years, in every single issue of Cascade Golfer, Duke’s has awarded $1,000 to young golfers from throughout the Seattle area, to ease the burdens placed upon them and their families by their passion for, and pursuit of, the game of golf. Winners have been as young as nine and as old as 18, and have run every demographic gamut you can imagine. Some have been total sticks — like August’s co-winner, 9-year-old Nixon Dremousis, who already has a career-best round of 77 under his belt — while others have sought careers in golf course design and architecture, agronomy or club management. In all, more than $20,000 has been awarded to young golfers throughout the region. In this issue, we are expressing gratitude to those who have made a difference in our local golf scene — the people and businesses going above and beyond to make our corner of the golf world a better place. Over the past five years, few have done more to support local youth golfers than Duke’s, and John Moscrip. As the names listed at right will attest, Duke’s isn’t just a local business — it’s truly a part of our community, invested in the people and places we call family. So, in this most difficult of years, here’s to Duke’s — we can’t wait to see you again soon.
Roman Antolin, 12 (Apr. ‘17). . . . . . . $500 Jordan Baird, 18 (Apr. ‘17). . . . . . . . . $500 Kenan Blake, 15 (Dec. ‘19). . . . . . . . . $500 Jesse Brendle, 17 (Apr. ‘19). . . . . . . . $500 Bronwyn Byrne, 13 (July ‘20) . . . . . . $1,000 Dylan Christoffer, 18 (Apr. ‘17) . . . . . $500 Julia Diaz, 17 (May ‘20). . . . . . . . . . . $1,000 Nixon Dremousis, 9 (Aug. ‘20). . . . . $500 Grayson Giboney, 17 (Dec. ‘18) . . . . $1,000 Quinn Hood, 17 (Apr. ‘17) . . . . . . . . $500 Hayden Hunskor, 15 (Apr. ‘16) . . . . . $1,000 Anastacia Johnson, 17 (Aug. ‘20). . . . $500 Isaac Johnston, 18 (June ‘19). . . . . . . $1,000 Mikey Lambert, 17 (Apr. ‘17). . . . . . . $500 Jac Longstreth, 18 (Apr. ‘17). . . . . . . . $1,000 Ana-Christine Louie, 14 (June ‘17) . . $1,000 Henry Mills, 12 (June ‘16) . . . . . . . . . $1,000 Makenzie Milton, 17 (Dec. ‘16). . . . . $1,000 Frances Monahan, 18 (June ‘18). . . . $1,000 Colin Morkert, 14 (Apr. ‘19). . . . . . . . $500 Emma Murphy, 16 (Aug. ‘18). . . . . . . $1,000 Joel Noren, 17 (June ‘20). . . . . . . . . . $1,000 Maya Nguyen, 16 (Aug. ‘19) . . . . . . . $1,000 Noah Phipps, 18 (Aug. ‘17). . . . . . . . $1,000 Ella Warburg, 17 (Dec. ‘17) . . . . . . . . $1,000
BAG 1 PRODUCT REVIEWS and equipment news you can use BY BRIAN BEAKY — CG EDITOR
‘TIS THE SEASON
hroughout the spring and summer, our desire to maximize time on the golf course enjoying the game we love means that we often forego the practice we know we need to improve our game. Especially this year, when we all had more free time than we’ve had in most of our adult lives, those one or two-hour windows in which we might have gone to the driving range in the past turned into all-day windows when we could squeeze in a leisurely 18 at the local club, or even take a drive out to the peninsula or up to the mountains to play our favorite destination tracks. In other words, we didn’t practice. And, let’s be honest, in the summer months, we rarely do. That’s why we say that winter is when the best players really dial in their game. Nobody wants to mess with new equipment when skins are on the line — instead, the best players (Tour pros included) often get their new clubs in the last quarter of the year or early in the following year, so that they’re dialed in by the time the real money is on the line. Trips to the range, too, or even just practicing at home in the backyard, can make a huge difference when the sun comes back in spring, and we’re (hopefully) all able to come together again and enjoy our favorite game. Here’s a few of the new clubs we think are worth checking out this winter. Give them a try, and find what’s best for you — then practice, practice, practice, because 2021 is almost here ... and there’s nowhere to go but up.
TSi Drivers 1
Big Bertha B21 Drivers 2
PUETZ GOLF PRICE
ou’ll be shocked — shocked! — to learn that Titleist’s new TSi2 and TSi3 drivers are faster and longer than anything the company has produced before. I mean, has a company ever come out and said, “Actually, these aren’t that great.” Of course not. But, when Jordan Spieth puts it in his bag just one week after testing it, we take notice. When Tommy Fleetwood — who, unlike Spieth, has no contractual obligations to Titleist — drops his TaylorMade SIM for the TSi3, though, then we really start to pay attention. The second generation of Titleist’s TS line has been streamlined aerodynamically to decrease drag up to 15 percent, resulting in an increase in clubhead speed. Titleist has also become the first manufacturer to switch from titanium to aerospace-grade ATI 425 in its face insert; both stronger and more elastic than titanium, it transfers more of that speed into energy, for long. booming drives. Both drivers punch in at 460cc, though the TSi2 has a slightly larger profile, with a deeper center of gravity that gives a little added forgiveness. The TSi3, meanwhile, is more traditionally pear-shaped, with an adjustable weight that allows golfers more control over their shot trajectories.
PUETZ GOLF PRICE
he majority of amateur golfers hit a slice, or at least a fade, with their drivers, and thus there are no shortage of new drivers each year that promise to help slicers keep their drives on the fairway. While most previous offerings, though, have focused simply on correcting for a slice — through heel weighting, upright lie angles, etc. — Callaway’s new Big Bertha B21 actually tries to prevent the conditions that cause a slice to occur in the first place. With the notion that “straighter drives are longer drives,” Callaway has focused fully on flight path in the B21, developing a first-ofits kind driver with a low-forward center of gravity that results in both a high trajectory and low spin. That trajectory will help golfers with steeper swing paths get the ball into the air, while the low spin will prevent balls struck with an open face, or an outside-in swing path, from hurtling wildly off into the wilderness. Jailbreak bars connect the crown to the sole for extra stability at impact, while allowing Callaway to thin the crown and redistribute that weight elsewhere for additional forgiveness benefits, while a redesigned Flash Face SS21 increases ball speeds on mis-hits.
Order online at puetzgolf.com • Call Toll Free (866) cascadegolfer.com 362-2441
JPX 921 Irons 3 PUETZ GOLF PRICE starting at $124.99
hile Mizuno’s older pros tend to gravitate towards the sleek, muscleback MP irons, its younger pros — including four-time major champion Brooks Koepka — seem to prefer to newer JPX line, which debuted its most recent generation, the JPX 921 irons, this fall. The third set in the line to use Mizuno’s Chromoly material — a lighter, stronger metal that results in faster ball speeds, straighter trajectories and better control — it’s the first to feature a fully-forged version done entirely in Chromoly material. Despite being a definite players’ iron, with a smaller profile and lower trajectory, the JPX 921 Forged has actually proved more forgiving than Mizuno’s previous JPX 919 Forged, with a slightly wider face slot that increases stability on mis-hits. Along with the Forged entry, the new line includes a Tour model, with a slightly thicker hitting area behind the ball for improved sound and feel, plus cavity-backed Hot Metal and Hot Metal Pro versions with increased forgiveness and a CORTECH face for maximum distance. Realistically, there’s something in the line for every level of golfer — make sure to schedule a fitting to figure out exactly which model is right for you.
Blueprint Irons 4
Mack Daddy CB Wedge 5
PUETZ GOLF PRICE
$212.50 per club
ING’s iBlade irons created a new type of forged blade — one that looked, felt and played like a blade, but offered the forgiveness of a cavity-backed iron. The Blueprint irons take that same formula and turn it up to 11, with a smaller profile, thinner topline, narrower sole width and an even more solid feel and consistent performance than their predecessor. How’d they do it? Well, it starts with a four-step, multi-stage process to forge each iron to ultra-precise tolerances, which allows PING designers to more precisely dial in performance without having to add a lot of extra bells and whistles. Indeed, the only noticeable “extra” is a tungsten toe screw, which works in concert with an internal heel weight to provide the stability and forgiveness more traditionally seen in a cavity back. The buttery feel and precise workability and shot control are all blades, though, which is one reason players like Tony Finau and Louis Oosthuizen have been quick to add the Blueprints to their bags. If feel and control are what you look for in an iron, PING’s finally drawn up your Blueprint to success.
cascadegolfer.com FREE SHIPPING on orders of $99 and more • exceptions apply
PUETZ GOLF PRICE
n recent years, both Cleveland and Mizuno have asked the question, “If most golfers play cavity-back irons, why are we only selling blade-style wedges?” Now, Callaway has entered the fray with its all new Mack Daddy CB, the first cavity-backed wedge in the Mack Daddy lineup. Targeted to players who aren’t entirely comfortable with a blade, but want the versatility and control that blade wedges provide, the Mack Daddy CB features a larger head and thicker topline to give players confidence at address, plus a moderate bounce designed to favor approach shots and longer pitches around the green. It’s also designed to be even more forgiving from the rough than previous Mack Daddy models, with a thicker sole and JAWS grooves that extend all the way across the face for higher spin rates from all types of lies. It’s going to be a great fit for golfers who crave consistency from their wedges. If you have a tendency to decelerate with your wedges when trying to be precise, the larger profile and extended grooves should help; even if your swing is slightly off-path, you’ll still be able to get the ball up and over whatever trouble is in your path.
DECEMBER 2020 2020 DECEMBER
RISK vs. REWARD Nile Shrine Golf Club
By Simon Dubiel
Hole No. 2 Par 4 242 yards (Gold Tees) The Setup At 245 yards from the tee, No. 2 at The Nile sets up for a great way to inject some momentum into your round. However, it can also lead to some frustrating bogeys that can put you on tilt. The tee box sits below the fairway, leaving the green blind from your view. The longer club you hit, the straighter you’d better hit it. Anything right will run down the hill and end up near or on the No. 3 tee box, behind a stand of fir trees that guard the right side. One fir tree frames in the front left side of the green.
The Risk Pull your tee shot a touch and you will need a
kick off the net or trees to have a look at the green. Or, perhaps you pound one out there but it has just a tad bit of left-to-right, spins right when it lands and rolls to the bottom of the hill. You now have a shot up through a stand of fir trees in hopes of finding the green. Good luck. At that point, many a golfer has said those magic words, “Man I wish I had just laid up.” Well, you didn’t. Now, have fun with that pitch shot.
The Reward It is always exciting to find a par-4 where you can drive the green, possibly even with less than driver. Eagle putts are rare for most of us, but one good
swing and you will have chips in the big game here. Anything short plays great, and anything just left will give you a simple up-and-down opportunity if you can avoid the one tree. Just don’t go right off the tee.
Final Call We rarely turn down a good betting opportunity, and the idea of having an eagle putt on a par-4 is always exciting. However, that tree-lined hill on the right is no spot to play from. This might be the sucker bet we were warned about. Today, we leave the headcovers on and poke a seven-iron into the middle of the fairway. Sometimes, the best bet is the one your don’t make. Now, go stuff a wedge in tight. Giddyup!
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ear H T
Homemade Bucket List Hits All 12 True Links Courses On The Pacific Coast
Fletcher Stephens carries his dadâ€™s bag on the first leg of a 12-course journey at Chambers Bay as the sun sets on Puget Sound.
A wanderlust journey of self-reflection and 2,000 miles of the road, rounds and memories
BY DICK STEPHENS CG PUBLISHER
he term “bucket list” isn’t one I remember hearing much when I was a boy. But, as I age, I find myself not only hearing about bucket lists, but thinking about them, making them and pining for every opportunity to execute them. I looked up the origin of the expression and, at least according to Phrases. org, it’s a relatively recent phenomenon. “The expression came into wide use following the release of the film ‘Bucket List,’ in December 2007. The first authenticated use of the phrase is found in a UPI Newswire post in June 2006.” If you stop reading this now, at least you picked up that little nugget, right? As for bucket lists, I have been fortunate enough to make and experience a few. As a young man, I covered, watched and even played soccer in The Netherlands, England, Germany and Austria. Over the course of three separate trips, I breathed in what it was truly like to see packed Dutch First Division, Premier League and
Bundesliga stadia and feel the concussion of chants and drums and crowds bang and echo off the walls of my heart. To sing and saunter out of a stadium and into the streets of Munich or Amsterdam with 50,000 people I would never see again was an experience that still stirs me in a sensual way. Shoot, one time, I got so caught up in the moment that I lost my friend Doug Andreassen, wound up in a bar full of Polish soccer fanatics and drank until dawn. Another bucket list was to watch not one, but four of my favorite rock bands enshrined in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. To see Pearl Jam, Yes, ELO and Journey all enter the Hall on the same night with my younger brother, Spencer, in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn — and be packed like sardines with 18,000 other fanatics who, just like we, came from all over the globe for one night of harmony — was poetry, not music. Traveling to Scotland, the birthplace of
golf, with my father, to see and play and feel St. Andrews and Carnoustie was like being teleported back in time. Longtime readers of Cascade Golfer have heard me speak fondly of that trip before. I’ve also had the fortune to travel to Ireland with my business partner, Kirk Tourtillotte, and play Royal County Down, The K Club, The European, Ardglass and others. Finally seeing how green and lush Ireland was for a hundred miles in every direction was divine. By now, perhaps, you are saying,”Shut up, already! You’ve had more than your share, dude.” And, indeed, I have. I am beyond blessed. Sports and culinary lifestyle projects have presented many an avenue and I have walked miles and miles down these paths. And, during these treks, I have taken the road less traveled whenever it appears. When I am hanging over the edge is when I am most happy. I am more Jack Kerouac and Rick Steves than a paint-by-numbers kind of guy.
Gearhart Golf Links
Sheep Ranch Bandon Dunes Pacific Dunes Bandon Trails Old Macdonald Bandon Preserve
“My 2,000-mile wanderlust trip was more than a getaway: it was a life-saver.”
The Sea Ranch Golf Links
Half Moon Bay Ocean Course 1,027 Miles
Pebble Beach Golf Links
anderlust is one of my favorite words. So, when COVID-19 hit, my life as I knew it crashed into a million pieces. One by one, the tsunami swallowed pro sports, golf, restaurants, event venues, crowds and life, capsizing my little boat. For a span of time, I, too, felt like I was underwater, just like millions of other Americans, wondering if I would break the surface and be able to breathe real air again. Sound dramatic? It was for me. I was unsure, like I am still today, when and where life as I loved it was it going to return. My little boat washed ashore, though, and it’s slowly drying out. Some of my mates paddled to safety, some made it back to the mainland, some are still recovering and some are still waiting for their next ship to come in. Me? I have my family, my friends and some lifelines, like golf and Cascade Golfer, to help me through this. Like the Gloria Gaynor classic my mom pounded into me as a child of the ‘70s, “I Will Survive.” After weeks of quarantine, masks, Zoom meetings, home schooling, wearing sweats and slippers and seeing wet spring days stretch into what was a really lovely summer of sun, I had to do something. I was going stir-crazy. My family saw it, too. I needed an elixir to take the edge off. I needed a COVID-proof bucket list that wasn’t dependent on an airplane. I needed the wind in my hair and a ribbon of highway to drive. I wanted to feel alive, to hear and see the ocean, mountains, new places and new faces, and wake up each day with more miles behind me. Miles, though, that take me to something meaningful and sustaining. I will never be a historical figure — and I don’t wish to be. But, perhaps what I set out to do may be unique enough to stake my claim to a new adventure. It’s not a moon landing. But, it kept me afloat and it helped me to dry out. This is a story about escape, and discovery, and finding places where I could just BE.
riginally, my plan was simple — one long, hot day of July golf at Chambers Bay, where the sun doesn’t set until 9:50 p.m. I slept on it, and when I woke the next morning, I thought, What if I kept on driving and went a little further? I poured a coffee, pulled my 1997 Rand
“In that single moment, with that single thought, my next great bucket list was born.”
The Links At Spanish Bay Spyglass Hill Golf Club 26
Heart and Soul “According to golf purists, a links course is one built on sand, that “links” a large body of water to the land, and maintains the land’s natural qualities.”
McNally Road Atlas off my shelf, sat in my robe on the back deck and skimmed all the way down the coast to Bandon Dunes, mentally adding up the 378 miles between University Place and Bandon. Hmmmmm, I thought. All links courses. What are the other links courses I know of on the West Coast? Pebble Beach, for sure, which I’d never played. Were there others? In that single moment, with that single thought, my next great bucket list was born. I kept skimming the map, looking at literally every square inch all the way down the coast, clear to San Diego. Surely, there had to be plenty of authentic coastal links courses that I had never even heard of. George Peper’s book, True Links, is THE bible on real links courses in the world. I checked it first, then hit up Wikipedia to see what newer courses may have been left out. Imagine my surprise, then, to find that the coastal links pipeline dries out in Pebble Beach. Despite more than 400 miles of coastline between Pebble and Mexico, there wasn’t a single authentic American links course south of those hallowed fairways. It’s probably worth taking a second to define an authentic links course. According to golf purists, a links course is one built on sand, that “links” a large body of water to the land, and maintains the land’s natural qualities. I was surprised to see that, according to Peper and Wikipedia, legendary tracks like Torrey Pines, Poppy Hills and Monarch Beach weren’t on the list, while others I’d never heard of — like The Sea Ranch Golf Links — were. I can do this, I thought. I’m gonna play ‘em all. I took out a pen and wrote the names of each the true links courses right on my map — Chambers Bay, Gearhart Golf Links, the five courses at Bandon Dunes (Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, Old Macdonald and the new Sheep Ranch), The Sea Ranch Golf Links, Half Moon Bay Ocean Course, Spyglass Hill, Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, and the rarest of them all, Cypress Point. To my knowledge, no one has played all these in one fell swoop, the way I intended to. My next great bucket list was on.
Approach to 1st green on Spanish Bay.
“To my knowledge, no one has played all these in one fell swoop, the way I intended to. If someone has, I’d love to sit with them and swap stories. Most are public, but Cypress is as exclusive as they come. Unless you know a guy that knows a guy, you can scratch it off your list.”
The funky cool on-course Clam Bed Bar at Gearhart Golf Links. cascadegolfer.com
Chambers Bay University Place, Wash. • LEG 1 • MILE 0
Chambers Bay • No. 13
“It’s familiar, challenging to master, and has hundreds of different little humps and outcroppings that make each round unique, no matter how many times you play it.”
know of no other publication in the world that has covered Chambers Bay more than Cascade Golfer. Chambers Bay, for me, is what a favorite rock face is to a climber. It’s familiar, challenging to master, and has hundreds of different little humps and outcroppings that make each round unique, no matter how many times you play it. Chambers is near and dear to my heart. I was a member of the first public foursome to ever play the course. I’ve watched a friend spread his dad’s ashes there. I’ve stood on the 15th tee box with Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and learned how and why he did what he did to the hole, and why the Lone Fir is so important. I covered the U.S. Open and the U.S.
Amateur. We’ve kicked off our Cascade Golfer Cup at Chambers nearly every year for the last decade. I have two eagles on the 557-yard eighth hole – and also two snowmen on the same hole. I love playing it so much because it feels like an accomplishment just to physically walk it. And, without a doubt, the closing stretch of four holes are one of greatest closing stretches in the sport. Now, it holds a special place for a new reason. It will be forever etched in my mind as the place where, on a 90-degree Friday, my son and I teed off at 4:30 p.m. and watched the greatest twilight of sun, sea, dusk and sunset I will ever know or feel, as I launched myself on an adventure I
will never forget. My son carried my bag on what might be one of the hardest loops for a caddie on the planet. He did it with grace and pride, and he even dropped a birdie putt on the par-5 first. I took what, for me, were the most important photos and memories of the game I’ve ever had — my son carrying my bag with his whole life in front of him, Puget Sound backdropping his ever-growing frame as the sun set behind us. My dad taught me how to play and embrace the game of golf, and I hope that this day was just as memorable for my son as it was for me. The fact that he tacked the scorecard on his wall alongside other things that are important to him, made me feel about 10 feet tall.
Gearhart Golf Links Gearhart, Ore. • LEG 2 • MILE 158
f you asked 50 freak golfers to name the true links courses on the West Coast, maybe 10 would be able to name Gearhart. If you asked the same 50 to name the oldest course west of the Mississippi? Good luck getting even one to come up with the correct answer. The fact is that golfers have been playing on the dunes of this hidden jewel since 1892 – 128 years. Dude!? The place is living history. With a design that Robert Livingstone, H. Chandler Egan and Bill Robinson all lay claim to, this course has iterations of golf that define the sport. Egan is the godfather of golf architecture in the Northwest, having penciled beauties all over Oregon, like Waverley and Eastmoreland, plus many courses in Spokane. Egan also played a huge part with Alistair Mackenzie in early redesigns of Pebble Beach. All this just underscores this jewel of a track. Besides the history, Gearhart has some super-cool funkiness woven into it. For starters, it’s built on sand, with the Pacific Ocean right across the street, and elk, deer and incredible coastal waterfowl everywhere you look. Second, it’s the childhood home of America’s father of modern cuisine, James Beard. He spent
his summers in Clatsop County and his love of fish, game meats, native greens and wild berries started right there. I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life immersed in the culture and wake of this man as a producer of the James Beard Taste America dinners and cocktail parties all throughout the west. Seeing the prairies and piers that gave Mr. Beard inspirations for the life he launched really connected a few dots. Finally, the McMenamin’s Grand Hotel sits right above the clubhouse like a cherry atop a sundae. The themed bedrooms, Sand Trap Pub and oncourse, walk-in Sand Bar make this a real destination. Their decks, patios and fire pits all touch the course, and the roller-coaster putting course makes it a place that is all golf, all fun, all the time. It’s history meets beach life, and it’s cozy and affordable.
“... the course, and the rollercoaster putting course makes it a place that is all golf, all fun, all the time. It’s history meets beach life, and it’s cozy and affordable.”
My favorite holes were the par-4 14th, with the craziest and coolest blind shot to an elevated green, and the par-5 18th, which is everything you want a home hole to be — three shots to the green, followed by infinite shots by the fire pits at the Pot Bunker Bar just a few steps away. This place alone is a super Seattle or Portland getaway. And, the Oregon towns of Astoria and Seaside, just 10 minutes away, only add to the potential to lose yourself in this golf Nirvana. Gearhart is also the home of the U.S. Hickory Open Championship, where the best wooden-shafted golfers in the world play the best of the best. This I gotta see. Not today, though. South on Highway 101 is more Valhalla. And, Gearhart turned out to be the perfect bridge from the polished Pacific Northwest to the rugged Pacific Coast.
Bandon Dunes Bandon, Ore. • LEG 3, 4, 5, 6 AND 7 • MILE 396
riving, for me, is just as much a part of the journey as the golf. And, cruising down Highway 101 with the top down on a summer morning is an adrenaline rush like no other. For the past eight years, I’ve had a little ragtop in my garage. Nothing extravagant, but trusty, fast and fun. The joy of hugging the coastline ribbon of road for the rest of the week was as exhilarating for me as the links that lie ahead. Something magical happens as you begin to drive south from Gearhart. If you have ever driven across the huge bridge spanning from Washington to Oregon at Astoria — which is basically Seaside and Gearhart — you see how high the land rises above the rugged beach below. It’s markedly different than Washington State. Oregon’s coast is like a mini mountain range, with cliffs and gorges and massive rocks jutting out of the ocean like 100 kraken. It’s awe-inspiring and looks and feels like a Bob Ross painting. Leaving Gearhart, you have a quick decision to make — do you drive on 101 all the way to Bandon, or do you cut across to I-5 to shave 90 minutes off this leg of the trip? Being that I had a tee time at Sheep Ranch in just under six hours, and knowing that I had a lot of U.S. 101 left in front of me, I elected to take I-5 for some of the day’s trek. This was my fourth time at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and none of the experiences have been the same. I’d previously played all the other tracks there, but hadn’t yet played Sheep Ranch. We featured the
course, which opened earlier this year, this summer, with a cover story written by friend and colleague Tony Dear. Tony killed it, and outlined the place really well. Rather than rehash or undermine his fine work, I’ll just share my own unique perspective. First off, finally getting to go through the previously locked gate into Sheep Ranch was a thrill. For many years, you had to know someone or get invited to go beyond the gate to the ranch. There was a lot of folklore and mystical aura swirling about the place for years. On my last two trips to Bandon, you could see the Sheep Ranch layout up north from Old Macdonald and from some places on Pacific Dunes. It was Bandon owner and visionary Mike Keiser’s little slice of heaven, or perhaps his own private aviary or clambake party spot. The time spanning the soft opening and actual opening seemed to take forever – but it was sooooooo worth it. It was an honor for me to even play it in the same year of it’s official opening. Driving all day to get there, knowing I had the last tee time of the day, I listened to podcasts about the place as the wind blew through my hair. I knew it was going to be heaven on Earth.
From the resort’s central lodge hub, it’s a good 15-minute drive to Sheep Ranch. You can’t walk to it. One of the reasons why? There is NO ocean links course I know of or have played that has so many holes that touch or are a stone’s throw to the cliffs or beach. Sheep Ranch has 12 holes that touch water! Most links have one, or a small handful of holes, that are touching the actual coast. Keiser has that much land he owns and had the vision and guts to bring this to life. In this case, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw managed to compose a masterpiece that keeps the ocean in play nearly all the way around. No disrespect to Bandon Trails, Bandon Preserve, Ozarks National or Cabot Cliffs (look out Nova Scotia, when the pandemic lifts, I’m heading your way) — Sheep Ranch is the duo’s magnum opus. Both men have said the same. If I hit balls all day, stretched and ate a protein lunch, or ran to the first tee and hit my first shot without a practice swing, it wouldn’t mean a bit of difference once I saw what was in front of me on hole No. 1. I played as a single and went off at 4:40 p.m., knowing the dusk and weather changes rolling in were going to be epic. When I looked down the fairway
of the 549-yard par-5, I could only wonder what would happen to the ball after I hit it, because this downhill beauty appears to drop off the edge of the earth about 190 yards off the tee. It looks like the band Kansas’ “Point of No Return” LP cover, not a golf course. You can practically see the curve of the Earth. I knew I’d find the ball on the other side, but as for what else I’d find, I could only imagine. Like all the courses at Bandon, afternoon wind is part of the experience. And, Mother Nature and the gales off the Pacific didn’t disappoint. The first hole is forgiving, and the green is right on the coast, which also plays a role in holes, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Yep, all of ‘em. You won’t even care what you score. The par is 34 on the outward nine, which I think is Coore/Crenshaw’s way of giving you two more chances to break 40. All you do is look, gasp and tighten your hat for two hours. I carded a 40 on the front nine, but it could have been a 36 or 56 and I wouldn’t have cared. It’s the most environmentally wrapped-up round of golf I’ve played in my life. The 10th tee offers your first non-ocean look at the land, with an elevated, undulating green that marks a clear transition between the Hemingway
“You can practically see the curve of the Earth. I knew I’d find the ball on the other side, but as for what else I’d find, I could only imagine.”
Heart and Soul
Old Man and the Sea part of the round, and the John Krakauer Into Thin Air part. It’s exhilarating to see how quickly the course turns on you. The back nine has some of Pacific Dunes’ characteristics, but with its own unique twists. My best attempt at words won’t do it justice. With the wind and clouds moving in, the temperature dropped 25 degrees on me between the time I started and the time I reached the 17th tee box. Shirtsleeves and sunscreen were replaced by three layers of clothes and wind so strong that it blew my bag over and tore my hat right off my head. I wore it backwards the rest of the round, just to be more aerodynamic. At 326 yards from the back tee, 17 comes north up the coast and looks short, but plays longer because of the wind. I crushed a driver and a hybrid and was 15 yards short of the green. I muscled out a par and thought I had invented fire. The home hole is another course masterpiece. Coore and Crenshaw know that half of the players that play Sheep Ranch each day will have the wind at their back; if that’s you, then let that driver rip and benefit from the 50 extra yards of run you’ll receive if you can clear the dogleg and hit the fairway. I hit an 8-iron approach and putted for eagle. This hole gives all players a “fish tale” to end your round, brushes you off, shakes your hand and says to come back again soon. Driving back to the central lodge, I had to buy a memoir and wear it as a badge of honor. McKee’s Pub is full of the best hot-air stories ever told, and a shot of Irish whiskey and a pint of Guinness salve all wounds. Bandon is sheer magic, and where I want my ashes spread. For a golfer, it’s Disneyworld, Disneyland, Epcot Center and the pyramids all wrapped in one. Now, with Sheep Ranch, it’s officially in first place among the world’s golf resorts. By the time I pulled the car out of Bandon’s parking lot, I had knocked off another five of the West Coast’s true links courses, having previously played Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, Old Macdonald and also the 13-hole Bandon Preserve. It was time to bid Oregon goodbye and head to California to finish off this marathon run.
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The Sea Ranch Golf Links Sea Ranch, Calif. • LEG 8 • MILE 788
hen doing my cup-of-coffee research for this trip, I was shocked to discover that there was a West Coast links course I had never heard of. No, more than shocked — I was disappointed. I’ve done golf business in California for 20 years. How could I be so ignorant? I started to feel better, though, after discovering that my friends and fellow golfers were all scratching their head on this one, too. I finally connected with the course to hear more about the place and I learned why Peper had put it on his list. Now, it was on mine. In a time when golf was still flying on the backs of Jack, Arnie, Trevino and a young upstart Tom Watson, Sea Ranch Golf Links was crafted in pieces, and came to be like an expensive piece of jewelry that was bought on layaway and not to be fully sparkling until it was the right place and time.
It’s designed by one of my favorite modern-day golf course visionaries, Robert Muir Graves. This guy is a rock star to me, and was to golf in the west what Donald Ross was to golf in the east. Graves has such a cool list of public and private courses to his credit: Overlake Country Club, Avalon, Furry Creek, Widgi Creek, Port Ludlow, Canterwood, Saticoy, Illahe Hills and countless more in California, Washington and Oregon. Sea Ranch Golf Links opened in 1974 with its first nine holes and quickly made lots of “what’s hot” lists. In 1995, this gem of the seaside links was finally completed at 6,649 yards and a par of 72. The course’s blend of links land, rough Scottish features and heathland acreage made it special — the only course between the Oregon border and the Bay Area. It was to become a must-play and must-stop spot. From Bandon Dunes, the directions were simple
— turn south on 101, merge on to CA-1, drive 392 miles and take a right into the parking lot. That meant the next day was all about the drive. OMG! This was a drive I wish I could have shot in 70 mm IMAX. It’s breathtaking, and felt more like flying or hang-gliding than driving. The water was with me the whole time, and the drive through Redwoods National Forest during the pandemic meant that I might have seen five cars the entire day. It was just me, myself and I. And, I loved every minute of it. There’s no cell phone reception in there. It’s trees that scrape the sky and a silence and stillness that is like a mossy, clean stagnation. It’s inspiring. The trunks of the redwoods in the center of the park were wider than the full length of my car. I imagined what George Lucas thought when he decided to make this the setting for Endor, and gave birth to a new world run not by park rangers, but Ewoks.
The dimness and stillness makes 1 p.m. in the redwoods feel like 6 p.m. in the rest of the world. I never wanted to leave. But, Sea Ranch harkened. I had been pre-warned by the course that I would playing in less-than-ideal conditions. A water reclamation issue affecting the course and surrounding community meant that fairways were a bit baked and dried out. The greens were outstanding, but the tee boxes and rest of the layout looked like the end of the fortnight at Wimbledon. I also sensed that the pandemic was not as fruitful to this amazing layout, which relies on more than just local traffic to survive. I know, though, that it would be a perfect place for a fall round of golf, with cooler temps and more rainfall. Make note that, while a true links course, Sea Ranch Links does not actually run along the beach — rather, it straddles the links land, the 101 and the
rolling mountain foothills. Graves had to channel a little Lewis and Clark to blaze this trail. It shows what an architect can do when his mind is set on a masterpiece. I’d recommend a cart, but walking is not impossible. The par-5 13th and par-5 14th — yes, back-to-back par-5s — are a cool piece of this puzzle. This course is worth the trip, and the staff and locals that frequent this place are not patrons but sustaining members of a society of golfers. The rolling terrain, deer, coastal trees, ponds — it looks and reads like a Steinbeck novel. I loved it. It’s humble pie to play and take part in, like being dipped in magic waters. Add this to your list and feel what hard work it truly is to keep a place like this alive.
“... it looks and reads like a Steinbeck novel. I loved it. It’s humble pie to play and take part in, like being dipped in magic waters.”
Half Moon Bay Ocean Course Half Moon Bay, Calif. • LEG 9 • MILE 931
The Pacific crashing against the coast at Half Moon Bay Old Course.
he Sea Ranch Golf Links is on the Sonoma County coast, slightly north of Santa Rosa and the pin-drop wine town of Healdsburg. On a map, it’s less than 60 miles to Healdsburg and over 100 world-famous wineries, like La Crema and Arista. It looks like no biggie to traverse the 60 miles back along CA-1 through the Russian River Valley to get back to the 101. But, let me tell ya, it’s the longest, most rigorous, winding stretch of road I’ve ever driven. If I had to guess, I made no fewer than 100 hairpin turns on this drive. I literally wore out the strut bushings on my little car on this leg of the trip, chalking them up to war wounds. CA-1 at times has no shoulder, and if I went over the guardrail, I’d crash into the Pacific. But, it’s a drive on which you will pull off at every vista to take pics. The Russian River Valley is like no spot in Oregon or Washington, melding the coast, farms, mountains and land that time forgot into a unique and unforgettable puzzle. Once you make it back to 101, it’s a lovely, hilly drive into Marin County, across the Golden Gate Bridge and into one of the world’s greatest cities. It’s kinda cool to me that the San Francisco Bay Area has one of the true links courses and Los Angeles doesn’t. No disrespect to my friends in Hollywood and O.C., but it’s a cool fact. As you head down the peninsula and make it to San Mateo, you will cut across CA92 and wind your way down to Half Moon Bay.
The sprawling links of the Ocean Course with The Ritz-Carlton looming in the distance.
Of all the places I stopped and stayed, Half Moon Bay is the most romantic. The Ocean Course and its partner, the Old Course, sit adjacent to the gorgeous Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay Resort. There are a few similarities between them, as Arthur Hills was a part of both designs, but the Ocean Course is the only one that makes this prestigious list of links courses. Not to impugn the Old Course, but its layout and style — other than a jaw-dropping final two holes along the cliffs — is parkland in scope. The land that Hills shaped into the Ocean Course had to pass the test of a picky Silicon Valley golfing crowd and an international audience that stays and plays at Ritz properties around the globe. He gently flowed in a tight, true Scottish layout where you can see the Pacific on every single hole — which is not easy to do. This course is a photographer’s dreamscape. I played it on a day where a marine layer of fog and sea smoke made it feel very much as if I was playing in the County of Fife in Scotland. What a layout!
The par 4s are tight and a bit unforgiving, while the prevailing winds that wash over the peninsula take away even a big bomber’s crack at reaching most par-5 greens in two. I’m going on out on a limb to say, though, that holes 17 and 18 are as linksy and cool and rugged and tough and coastal and windy and amazing as any on this trip. They are stunners. The par-3 17th is daunting, like a longer version of Pebble’s famous No. 7. The hotel sits high above the 18th green and, from this distance, looks like a medieval fortress. As you stare down the difficulty of keeping your 180-yard shot at 17 from flopping into the drink, you are already thinking about how tricky that tee shot on 18 looks from here. I loved that the wind whooshed for me that day, so that I could blister a 25-degree hybrid high and let the wind knock the ball down, like a field goal net behind the uprights. The uphill, slight dogleg, par-5 18th is a masterpiece in every sense. Birdie is super. Par is better than good. And, with any number of Ritz guests watching the players finish the final hole from their patios or sipping a
drink, you will have a mini gallery cheering you on. The Ocean Course is a beautiful day on a links park and THE perfect tune-up for the three courses ahead of me at Pebble Beach. It’s pretty cool to pull into Carmel-By-the-Sea and tell the locals, “Yeah, I played Half Moon Bay on the way down.” Even cooler when you add that you’ve also played Sea Ranch Golf Links, Bandon Dunes, Gearhart and Chambers Bay. And, that you still have three more courses to go.
“I loved that the wind whooshed for me that day, so that I could blister a 25-degree hybrid high and let the wind knock the ball down, like a field goal net behind the uprights.”
Half Moon Bay
Pebble Beach Golf Links Pebble Beach, Calif. • LEG 10, 11, 12 • 1,027 MILES
ebble Beach is a golf course. Pebble Beach is a collection of five courses. Pebble Beach is decadence. Pebble Beach is a major. Pebble Beach is a city. Pebble Beach is a national treasure. Pebble Beach, for me, is everything I’ve ever wanted from a 40-year walk with this sport. Now, I don’t have to ever say again, “Nope, I haven’t played that one.” When you are cruising along the 101 and San Jose and the Silicon Valley are fading in the rearview mirror, it’s super-cool to see a highway sign that says, “PEBBLE BEACH NEXT EXIT.” Turning down the famed 17 Mile Drive, meanwhile, is like making it to the Wailing Wall or Vatican City. There
are three roads that are THE only real stretches of asphalt with any historical significance in golf. Old Station Road, from which St. Andrews’ famed “Road Hole” takes its name. Magnolia Lane, leading to to the front door of the Augusta National clubhouse. And, finally, Pebble Beach’s 17 Mile Drive, which weaves together Poppy Hills, The Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill, the new Short Course (formerly the Peter Hay Golf Course) designed by Tiger Woods, and, of course, Pebble Beach Golf Links. It took me two trips to cross this one off the bucket list and fully place all my pins on the rocky links shoreline of Pebble Beach. Last year, I flew
down the coast to play Spanish Bay and Spyglass Hill with my good friend and golfing buddy, Jon Thunselle. He’s one of the coolest cats I know: in the dictionary, the word “chill” has a photo of a penguin and Jon next to it. He and I watched our sons and daughters grow up together, so we have a deep root that’s anchored in our hometown of Snohomish. I’ve played golf with Jon back home and in Las Vegas, so we know each other’s games and there’s not ONE ounce of competitiveness between he and I. There’s no one I’d rather pair up with to play challenging courses for the first time. We couldn’t play Pebble on my first trip, because they were hosting the 100th U.S. Open just
Dick and Rick on the practice tee.
“We knew that we stood on holy land, and what lay ahead of us was perfection. To walk in the footsteps of giants that had played there since 1919 was more than either of us could grapple with in the moments before we teed off.”
six days later. We walked it instead, slowing down to replay, recount and even recreate certain shots, like two teens on a driveway basketball court. We stood where Watson stood when he chipped in on 17, and walked every inch of the 18th hole — with the grandstands up, rough in its full form and everything. For this trip, my very good college friend, Kappa Sigma brother and former college tennis teammate (my Baker University tennis career lasted exactly a year) Rick Walsh bravely and safely did a turnand-burn flight into Northern California to join me from Kansas City. This time, I would not leave Pebble Beach without playing it. Rick had never been to Pebble Beach, and his enthusiasm and way with words had me smiling and cracking up the whole time — taking the edge off of the nervousness. When we arrived at the course, our hearts were pounding out of our chests. We knew that we stood on holy land, and what lay ahead of us was perfection. To walk in the footsteps of giants that had played there since 1919 was more than either of us could grapple with in the moments before we teed off. It was right about then that Rick disappeared. No, seriously. We were just about to head to the tee, and he was gone. This stressed me out — not because I thought he’d bail, but because I didn’t want to miss our call to the tee. I went to my bag and pulled out a hybrid, looking around for Rick. Suddenly, there he was — with a double vodka soda and lime in each hand. I would never slug a drink like that before playing the course of my dreams, but before we teed off, we both saw half the cocktail vanish into our bloodstream. It was like knocking back 10 milligrams of Valium; I needed it, as the six I posted on the par-4 first hole was fair assessment of my nerves at the time. For Rick, the Absolut was absolutely what he needed to chill as he parred the first and carded a freak-show 37 on the outward nine. Frankly, it was magic to see him play like that and it made my day that he rose to the occasion. In 1928, our Gearhart friend, H. Chandler Egan, updated the course design that was originally penned by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant. Alistair Mackenzie and Robert Hunter (1927) also worked on the course, while Jack Nicklaus put his touch on the short, par-3 fifth hole in 1998. You can look at Pebble Beach though a few lenses. The pomp and circumstance is there, with the golf history a foot thick at every turn.
Rick’s 106-yard tee shot on 7.
The plaque of Tom Watson’s chip in on 17 and my ball.
The vista and view of the 6th hole.
LINKS TO THE LINKS Chambers Bay • chambersbaygolf.com Gearhart Golf Links • gearhartgolflinks.com Bandon Dunes • bandondunesgolf.com The Sea Ranch Golf Links • searanchgolf.com
The finery is there, since the land you are taking divots out of may very well be the richest soil on Earth. For me, the experience made my two-dimensional image of the course — what I’d memorized through TV, books and magazines since I was a teen — four-dimensional. Why four, and not three? Because it’s not just the physical dimensions of the course that are tangible; you can feel the century of history all around you at every turn. The course is a PERFECT eclectic artistic assembly of many odd turns, humps and bumps. Most all of the greens are really small; in some cases, postage stamps. Each time I plucked my ball from the hole, I found myself bummed out that I had one fewer hole left to play. Hole one is cool, but nothing amazing. It’s a stairwell to a deck to overlook the Pacific. No. 2, however, is the welcome-wagon par-5, and tight. There’s this long sand creek barranca that kills your second shot, while huge trees that don’t show up on TV are like arena football goal posts you have to split with your third. It’s awesome — not “rad” awesome — but literal, jaw-dropping awesome. Holes 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, meanwhile, are it. They are why I came. These are the holes you dream about. I felt the wind and water at Bandon and Chambers, and it’s incredible. But, this is LINKS GOLF. This is the Pacific crashing against the rocks and your hair being blown sideways. You start heading up in elevation. You can see the insane mountain plateau of No. 6 off in the distance, inching closer and closer with every shot. Hit it too far right on any of these holes and you are in the sea. Hit it left and you’re in the fine, white sands. Hit it over the green and you’re dead. These are holes where you just try to advance the ball. Jack’s par-3 fifth — utter masterpiece. The 509-yard, par-5 sixth is sheer bliss. It looks impossible that you can even get your ball up there in three. The gorge that juts into the fairway off the tee and the steepness that follows as you hope to get your second over a blind uphill shot, is YOU trusting YOU — not your caddy, or your stroke-saver book. Standing atop the sixth fairway and looking down at Stillwater Cove on your right and Carmel Bay on your left is the best vista in golf. What follows? For many, the greatest par-3, or perhaps the greatest hole, in golf. Next to the 18th at St. Andrews, I know of no other link that is more iconic than the 106-yard, par-3 seventh. It’s certainly the most photographed, and the social media posts of this hole are a daily following for fans across the globe. If I could only play one hole again and again, this is it. The wind is real. And, the elevated tee box makes you feel like you can pitch underhanded and hit the middle of the green. Six bunkers guard the dartboard green orbitally. Heck, a sandy
Half Moon Bay • halfmoonbaygolf.com Pebble Beach Golf Links •pebblebeach.com/golf The Links At Spanish Bay pebblebeach.com/golf/the-links-at-spanish-bay Spyglass Hill Golf Club pebblebeach.com/golf/spyglass-hill-golf-course Cypress Inn • cypress-inn.com
“The course is a PERFECT eclectic artistic assembly of many odd turns, humps and bumps.”
Heart and Soul par here is almost cooler than birdie — almost. I admittedly put a three on the scorecard, and felt like I hit the California lottery. The rest of the round was gravy. Holes nine through 16 bring you up into the hills to see some of the most beautiful homes anywhere in the world. The 572-yard 14th is considered one of the toughest par-5s on the PGA TOUR, a three-shotter even for most of them. The greens on each hole have subtleties that even a single-digit handicapper can’t see at first. And, for me, the back nine greens are a lesson in reading truths. My caddie said to focus on the blades of grass closest to the hole — if you can figure out which way they lay, then work your way back to the ball, you can start to consider a real read. Speed and break are in a different realm here. And, considering that this is one of the most heavily trampled collection of
putting surfaces in the world, it’s a credit to the artistry of superintendent Chris Dalhamer that they look and play this good. When you get to 17, I hope the wind is howling. This is the famous hole where Jack’s 1-iron fired the shot heard ‘round the world at the 1972 U.S. Open, and where Watson chipped in from the fringe in 1982. A plaque is firmly planted where his Ram wedge popped the ball up just so. At 177 yards, the wind makes or breaks you here. I lipped a par putt, and all I could think about was old Tom. The home hole 18th is a poem. It’s the end of a long journey, and playing it gave me a new respect. I’ve always dreamed of cutting the dogleg over Stillwater Cove, and what it would feel like to hit a ball out of the seawall sand trap that runs 153 yards to the green’s edge. But, of all the things about the hole, what truly struck me was
the size of the tree right in front of the green. It’s THE real obstacle of the hole. Television and photos don’t do it justice. When I first saw it, I thought, Dude, pare that thing back! It blocks almost 60 percent of the green. But, earning the right to hit a shot OVER the tree and onto the green is poetic justice. Rick was on in three and staring down a 20-foot putt for bird. I hit my tee shot into the cove — sigh. But, I was hitting four over the tree to go up and down for a save. It came down and, just as quickly, bounced straight back up into the air, like it had struck a sprinkler head — in the middle of the green. Patrons on the patio overlooking the green gasped — what the hell happened? My ball had landed straight on top of Rick’s, plugged his, and caromed all the way to the back of the green. He carded a 5 and I carded a 6, but it made the final hole something to talk about.
The Links at Spanish Bay Pebble Beach, Calif. • LEG 11
“Bump and run is the name of the game.”
he Links at Spanish Bay is the perfect place to saddle up or come down after the round at Pebble Beach. The Lodge at Spanish Bay is all-world in every sense, and when you walk onto the grounds, you know you’re in links heaven and living fine. Although you are still on the resort property, it feels different than the Pebble Beach hub, though it’s not a drop-off by any stretch. The Lodge, shops, cuisine, bar and the famous bagpiper that helps the sun set there each night gives Spanish Bay is own chops. If you cut the course out of the rock as it sits and placed it on the shore of Lake Michigan or the Gulf of Mexico or the mid-south Atlantic, it would be the coolest course in that state. Before playing it, I read different reviews that varied from “mind-blowing” to “overpriced.” Honestly, both times I’ve played it I was pinching myself. I mean, when you play golf along the ocean and 17 Mile Drive, what’s not to love? I love RTJ Jr. courses
— perhaps since he’s been a friend to this magazine over the years — and you can really feel his stylings here. But, you also feel Sandy Tatum’s and Tom Watson’s, too, as the greens at Spanish Bay are nothing like you would see at Pebble. They are big and more resort-like. But, not easy. In fact, I thought they were faster. The three designers have their fingerprints on this place like the three tenors. It’s 6,800 yards, and the wind makes it play like 7,500. Hole No. 1 is a sweet launch pad, with the links land rolling you all the way down from the lodge to the water. Spanish Bay is rugged and when your ball flies errant, you could be stuck in gorse or thorny beach bushes, or just plain lost in an impossible array of foliage. Where Pebble Beach is about long rough and links, Spanish Bay is about the beach life. The 459-yard, par-4 fifth is one of the hardest on the peninsula. In fact, with the wind in your
face, all the par 4s here are very challenging, requiring you to keep your second shot under the wind just to get up and down. Rick and I both treated par like a birdie that day we played it. The wind picks up more as the day draws on — you just have to embrace it and not get pissed. It’s part of links golf. Bump-and-run is the name of the game. Never in my life have I seen so many deer up close and personal as I did at Spanish Bay. It’s clear they didn’t get the memo about social distancing. In fact, I nearly hit one with my cart, it was so close. It’s like a sanctuary there. Both times I played, I used a golf cart and finished in less than four hours, which is perfect if you want to play 36. And, that’s exactly what we had in mind, with a quick stop to let the valets scrape out the grooves before heading off to Spyglass Hill. By the way, the staff there is amazing, and remembered my name nearly four hours after we checked in. I was impressed.
Stay At The Cypress Inn
hen you’re in Carmel, you feel cosmo, hip, cool and relevant — the vibe is a Berkeley-meets-Aspen kind of thing. It’s such a lovely place to hang and get off the course for a few hours or even a few days. Rick and I stayed at the Cypress Inn, which is a legendary hotel, restaurant and bar that everyone there knows about. It’s been open since 1929 and is a registered historical landmark. Doris Day is the one who really put it on the map, as she owned the Inn and called it home for over 20 years. Some of the world’s elite entertainers and who’s who have been guests there. The Spanish architecture, appointments, furnishings and art deco are all authentic. The relaxed decadence has Doris Day’s fingerprints all over it and there’s endless memorabilia at every turn. The staff treats you like you were checking into a coastal Euro villa somewhere and the outdoor courtyard of Terry’s Lounge has an ever-changing seasonal menu. The fresh seafood, steaks, chops and local greens are something James Beard would give his personal thumbs-up. There’s so many cool hidden pockets to chill out in and the mixology is world-class. We went for broke and enjoyed a tower suite room. To open up the bay windows in the morning and hear the sounds of Carmel-by-the-Sea’s streets waking up and the Pacific’s breakers in the distance shook the slight Scotch-on-the-rocks fog right out of my head. Reservations were a breeze; the hotel has other properties in the area, too. Of course, the Inn at Spanish Bay and the Lodge at Pebble Beach would be life-long memories for sure, and you can’t ever go wrong by staying on-property, but it’s nice to meander and see what the coastal towns can offer, too.
DECEMBER DECEMBER 2020 2020
Spyglass Hill Golf Club Pebble Beach, Calif. • LEG 12
“The whole first hour at Spy is breathtaking and links, links, links.”
t’s been my experience since playing “Spy” for the first time last year, and kibitzing with other linksters that have made that loop, that you are magically cooler as a result of it. And, I love being in that kind of company. Spanish Bay is new by Pebble Beach standards, as it hit the scene in 1987. When you play Spyglass, you are embarking on a historical journey, an amateur jewel and a PGA TOUR favorite. Many people outside of Northern California aren’t aware that the oldest course at Pebble Beach, though, is actually Del Monte Golf Club, named for the Del Monte Forest in which the resort is nestled. Del Monte is a heathland/parkland masterpiece and has been in continual operation since 1897; Del Monte and Gearhart slug it out for which was really the oldest course west of the Mississippi. It was Del Monte that first brought public golfers to the peninsula, and it was Pebble Beach that sent shockwaves around the globe to make people pay attention. But, it was Spyglass Hill that gave Pebble Beach a 1-2-3 punch for years, long before Spanish Bay hit the scene. Spyglass has been tagged by Sports Illustrated as Pine Valley-by-the-Sea meets
y 2,000-mile wanderlust trip was more than a getaway: it was a life-saver. I used the time to not just golf, but enjoy valued time with my son, Fletcher, and my friend Rick. I also saw good friends and made new ones along the way. It was reflective and soul-searching.
Augusta National. Frankly, that’s a great analogy. Having hosted two U.S. Amateurs, and been a PGA TOUR stalwart as a co-host to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, it’s among the world’s best. At just under 7,000 yards, this par 72 brings you to your knees with a barrage of uphill, 400-yard par 4s that play more like par 5s. For a part of your trip on Spy, it seems like you never stop playing uphill. Holes seven through 18 are a coastal forest journey like you would find at neighboring Poppy Hills, Bandon Trails or many Robert Trent Jones, Sr., tracks in Alabama. But, there’s a reason Spyglass is in this story, as its true links shine and bristle with the Pacific gales on holes one through six. Frankly, when you’re on the front nine, you can’t fathom that you will play the rest of the day in the forest; when you play the back, it’s hard to believe that you started on the beach. The whole course is themed after the novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote Treasure Island and spent a portion of his life there on the peninsula. The first hole — called, appropriately, Treasure Island — is, for me, the greatest opening hole I’ve ever played. Adjacent to the modest clubhouse, the first
tee sits high atop the sweeping, boomerang-shaped, dogleg-left par 5, which is 595 yards long. It bends so swiftly that you can’t even tell from the tee that the green floats on the coast. When you bomb your drive to the corner, and see what lies ahead, you just know that you are in Nirvana. The whole first hour at Spy is breathtaking and links, links, links. I am gonna go out on a limb here and say that with some moderate wind, Spyglass Hill would be one of the top-three hardest golf courses I have ever played, the other two being Carnoustie and Pacific Dunes. It’s just amazing. A nice bonus of visiting Spy? Seeing and meeting club professional Jin Park, who grew up in Snohomish and went to Snohomish High. In fact, I see Jin’s father up at Snohomish Valley Golf Center quite often. If you’re planning a buddies trip, corporate retreat or you are a PGA professional looking to take advantage of the Club Pro Program, please contact my good friend Levi Breck, national sales manager for Pebble Beach. He will make all your dreams come true. He can be reached at BreckL@PebbleBeach.com or 831-622-8733. He’s the best in the business.
The Bay Area is bliss to me. I thought a lot about what had happened to America, to our soul and what the pandemic scars felt like and looked like. But, I saw the best in people. I saw that folks cared and wanted to be respectful of distance, yet still make a connection. Sometimes,
even when you’re wearing a mask, you can look into someone’s eyes and see joy or sadness or disdain or fear — and they can see it in you, too. For a little while, I just wanted to be. And, this journey helped heal and fuel a soul that is ready for what’s next. cascadegolfer.com
SAVE SOME GREEN HOLIDAY TREATS BY BRIAN BEAKY • CG EDITOR
f you’re like us and you hit the links a lot this summer, you probably found yourself sticking mostly to the smaller local tracks with lower greens fees, to stretch that golf dollar as far as you could. We did take a couple of trips to destination tracks, but with funds limited and belts being tightened all around, it was the little guys that got most of our money this year. The “offseason,” though, is a great time to visit some of those higher-end courses that you may have passed up this summer. While rates at these three courses may reach triple digits during the peak season, they can drop by more than half from October through April. Furthermore, each are famous for their off-season conditioning, with sandy soil, windswept fairways and excellent drainage that make them just as enjoyable in January as July (OK, except for the 40-degree temperature difference). You’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices this year. Now, it’s time to treat yourself.
The Golf Club at Newcastle • Newcastle Photo by Rob Perry / robperry.com
The Golf Club at Newcastle NEWCASTLE
Newcastle’s Coal Creek and China Creek courses are perfect examples of the kind of course we talk about when looking for those winter golf opportunities. Tucked high on the Newcastle ridge overlooking Bellevue in the foreground, and downtown Seattle in the distance, they’re kept dry in the winter months by slopes that send water running downhill, and by winds that blow steadily across the fairways and greens on the exposed areas of the ridge. They’re also courses that, while at the high end of the region’s greens fee structure in the summertime, drop right into the CG wheelhouse come winter. Both courses will run you close to two bills (with tax) in the summer months, but drop under $100 through the offseason, giving you the chance to save more than 50 percent on the peak greens fee while not sacrificing much in terms of value given their excellent winter conditions. The Bob Cupp and Fred Couples-designed Coal Creek gets most of the attention, and it does have the biggest views, including one of the most-photographed tee shots in Washington — the downhill, par-5 first, where you’ll swear you can see from Everett to Tacoma. China Creek, on the other hand, heads inland, paralleling the driving range before turning south into a maze of trees and home sites for most of its front nine. Besides the views, though, you’d be hardpressed to find ma50 differences between the holes themselves — Coal Creek is longer by about 300-400 yards, with more bunkers, uphill approaches and uneven lies, but China offers
plenty in the way of difficulty, particularly from its 6,161-yard championship tees or 6,702-yard tournament tees. Numerous doglegs, especially on the tighter front nine, force players to target certain sides of the fairway for the easiest approaches to the green, while Newcastle’s ever-present, Open Championship-style second cut of rough swallows up anything that strays too far from the fairway. And, for those who relish any chance to put a two on the scorecard, the par-71 China Creek replaces a par-4 with a fifth par-3 — a pleasure, since each of China Creek’s par-3s offer something a little different. The downhill, 198-yard (blues) second requires a good long iron approach, while the 147-yard seventh and 145-yard ninth are both straight uphill, the latter backdropped by Newcastle’s iconic clubhouse. The 167-yard 11th is all carry, with water from tee to green, while the 141yard 15th lets you breathe a little easier. Of course, Newcastle’s 19th hole, The Wooly Toad, also makes it a favorite winter-weather choice. Sipping a whiskey or a glass of red wine in the English manor clubhouse, with a roaring fireplace putting some color back in your fingers, it’s a taste of the good life — on a middle class budget.
YARDAGE (PAR) 4,855-6,702 (China) 5,153-7,024 (Coal) RATES $50-$161 TEL (425) 793-4653 WEB newcastlegolf.com * Check website for current rates cascadegolfer.com
Chambers Bay • University Place Salish Cliffs Golf Course • Shelton
Salish Cliffs Golf Course SHELTON
Chambers Bay UNIVERSITY PLACE
Long-time Cascade Golfer readers won’t be surprised at all to see Salish Cliffs on this list. We’ve practically made Salish our official home base over the last few years, visiting not only for an annual Cascade Golfer Cup event, but coming back in the fall for the final three rounds of our year-long Cascade Golfer Match Play Championships, where eight golfers compete over two days (with a nice stay at the Little Creek Casino Resort wedged between) for the coveted match play trophy and a sweet stay-and-play package. Why do we host these events at Salish, and not someplace else? Well, it’s partly because there are few courses in the area that offer a more well-balanced round for golfers of all skill levels — an oft-overlooked, but vitally important aspect of hosting a tournament. With two reachable par-5s (including both the first and 18th), a driveable green at the par-4 second, plenty of elevated tees and just one par-4 longer than 400 yards from the middle set of tees, it’s a course that gives shorter hitters the chance to put a birdie or two on the scorecard and walk away feeling good about the game. But, its creative bunkering, long rough and tricky greens make it plenty challenging for the big bombers and scratch golfers, too — indeed, our tournaments have crowned net champions with a broad range of handicaps, proving that it’s a course that gives everyone the chance to play their best. Perhaps that’s why Salish Cliffs finished in the top-10 of our “Washington’s Best Public Courses” list last year with every single subgroup we polled — sixth among media members and golf “experts,” ninth among ladies, second among courses on the Peninsula, fourth among courses in its price range and, of course, fifth in the official statewide 2019 top-10 rankings. As for that price range? It’ll run you triple digits on a summer weekend (unless you’re using a Cascade Golfer Players Card or Northwest Golfers Playbook, of course), but drops as low as $40 on a winter weekday, and $60 on weekends. If you’re up for it, put your savings towards a spin or two at the tables after your round, and see if you can’t walk out in the black. Otherwise, treat yourself to a nice meal, or put it towards a new stick for your bag. It’s been a tough year for all of us — you deserve it.
Every golfer in the Puget Sound region — heck, just about every golfer in the world who has watched the Golf Channel or read Golf Digest in the 15 years — wants to play Chambers Bay. In fact, during the summer months, it’s not at all uncommon to overhear conversations in many different languages and foreign accents while making your way around our local links gem, as golfers from across the globe pack the fairways where Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson played out one of the most exciting finishes in U.S. Open history. In the wintertime, though, much of the tourism goes away … which is when we step in. While summer rates at Chambers can climb into triple digits, winter rates plunge to just $80 for residents of Pierce County and $85 for the rest of us. (Note: Chambers uses dynamic pricing, so these rates can vary with demand.) And, the best secret of all? The same elements that make Chambers a unique golf experience — its hard, fescue fairways; deep, sand-and-gravel base; and open links style — help keep it closer to its summertime condition than just about any course in the state during the offseason. Plugged lies are non-existent, while the many invasive molds and other pathogens that are the bane of Northwest golf course superintendents in the winter months are rarely found on Chambers’ fine fescue turf. Even the new poa annua greens that were put in place last year have proven to hold up well during the rainy season, a credit to Chambers’ hard-working grounds crew and the unique geologic and geographic qualities of the local area. Our tip? Pick a day where the forecast calls for a less-than-50-percent chance of rain and schedule an early-afternoon round, if you can. The forecast will keep traffic (and, thus, those dynamic rates) down, while the weather tends to be worst in the morning, before settling into one of our typical cool, gray winter afternoons. If you get lucky, by the time you’re standing on the tee at the par-3 ninth with the entire course unfolding down the hillside below you, the sun will be shining, you’ll have put a couple of birdies on the scorecard already, and have saved enough money on your greens fee to take a caddie out for the day, or grab a nice meal from the clubhouse and soak up the views when you’re done. So, yeah, you’re going to find us at Chambers this winter. There’s really no better time to go.
YARDAGE (PAR) 5,313-7,269 (72) RATES $40-$60 TEL (360) 462-3673 WEB salish-cliffs.com * Check website for current rates
YARDAGE (PAR) 5,278-7,165 RATES $70-85 TEL 1-877-29-LINKS (5-4657) WEB chambersbaygolf.com * Check website for current rates
P R ESENTED BY
What We’re Thankful For This Year By Brian Beaky
think we can all agree that there’s never been a year quite like this one. Many of us have lost jobs, some of us have lost family. Even if you’ve been
lucky enough to avoid either of those two fates, it’s been hard not to feel like a year of our lives was taken away — a year of birthday celebrations, weddings, holidays, tailgates, tournaments, family gatherings, vacations and all of the other notable markers by which we remember the years that pass.
The Resort at Port Ludlow • Port Ludlow
Thus, it’s with some surprise that when I looked back at 2020 for this issue,
I found myself feeling ... grateful. While, for many of us, the scars inflicted by 2020 will take a long time to heal, the lights that shone through the darkness give us hope that 2021 will bring a fresh start. In A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway writes, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” We’re all feeling a little broken this year, no doubt. But, there’s plenty of reasons to think we can come back stronger in 2021.
So, even though it’s a bit cliché, we thought we’d share a few things we’re
thankful for around the offices — er, living rooms, dens, dining room tables and backyard patios — of Cascade Golfer this year.
And, of course, we included a few submissions from you, our readers, as
well. Your persistence and love of golf continues to amaze us and give us hope. Thanks for keeping our dreams alive.
The Summer That Never Wanted to End
It was a bummer of a year to be stuck inside so much, because just outside our windows was some of the nicest summer weather we’ve seen in years. July and August were kiss-your-fingers beautiful, while even September and October saw below-average rainfall, allowing golf courses shuttered in the early months to recoup some of their losses.
2 The Best Golf Rates in America Nobody — and we mean NOBODY — has it as good as we do. The climate and topography of the Northwest makes for unparalleled golf beauty, with our elevated tees, majestic mountain backdrops and abundance of trees, water and wildlife. Taken as a whole, our state’s top-50 public courses are as good or better than the top-50 public courses in almost any state in America — and our rates are far, far lower. That’s sweeter than pumpkin pie.
3 The Next Generation It’s entirely possible that, 25 years from now, people will look back at 2020 as the year that saved golf in America. We’re not kidding. For the first time in decades, the number of people taking up golf for the first time outweighed those hanging up the clubs, as golf courses, retail shops and driving ranges saw huge surges in new golfers taking advantage of the only game in town. Most exciting for us was how many kids we saw out on the course this year, either taking advantage of the shorter tees many courses installed 80-150 yards out from the greens, discounted rates and special family-friendly tee times at local courses, or using Youth On Course or U On Course cards to play with their family and friends for as little as $5 a round. None of us want to go through another year trying to be our kids’ teachers, but we’re incredibly grateful for the time with them that we’ve been given.
The Most Amazing Golf Community in America
As publishers of a golf magazine, and managers of consumer golf shows from coast to coast, we have the chance to interact with golfers and golf industry representatives in nearly every part of the country. And, without question, the people who make up the golf community in the Pacific Northwest are among the most dedicated and passionate golf supporters in America. For the hard-working local retailers like Puetz Golf, who innovated to keep their 75-year-old family business alive; the pros, instructors, GMs, groundskeepers and support staff who worked so hard to weather the storm; the golf writers and photographers who bring our local gems to life; and the unparalleled commitment and passion of golfers young and old, male and female, who continue to grow the game in our region … Thanks. We wouldn’t be here without any of you. And, we can’t wait to get back on the tee with you next year.