COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- The Coeur d'Alene Golf and Spa Resort course is over the top, and it's happy about it.
Coeur d'Alene claims the world's only floating green, which gets pulled in or pushed out each day, forecaddies that exceed service expectations and tricked-out custom carts with heated seats, tilting steering wheels and an embroidered image of the floating green on the seat backs.
The golf course itself, a par 71 with an extra par 3 on the front, is meticulously maintained and festooned with thousands of geraniums and, seemingly, miles of juniper hedges. It's carpeted in perfect bent grass from tee to green.
Coeur d'Alene plays like a resort course, with cupped fairways that corral balls that try to escape, nudging them forward and toward the center of the fairway. Course designer Scott Miller wasn't shy with the sand, sprinkling it along fairways and pouring it on near the greens. But he was stingy with doglegs, with only a couple gentle ones. He divided the course into five tee sets, so everyone can enjoy it.
From the start, the service is stellar. Forecaddies meet you at the bag drop and grab your bags. You'll not have to touch them again.
"Our forecaddies are obviously the most critical component to our service program, spending an average of five hours a day with our guests," said Andy Mackimmie, Coeur d'Alene's head professional. "We spend a great deal of time and effort selecting and training our forecaddies to be knowledgeable, both in the game itself and golf course details."
Once you're loaded and ready, a massage therapist waits near the driving range to help you get limber for your round. Your warm-up at the driving range is a bit unusual, too. The range points toward the lake, and you blast floating range balls at floating flags. Later, you can make it a sport to count how many renegade balls you'll see adrift along the streams and lake during your round. You'll see dozens.
As for the golf course itself, the front nine is sandwiched by par 5s, the first hole featuring a bunker on the left mid-fairway and a gaggle of them right of the green. The ninth hole, the other par 5, returns to the lake in similar fashion, but the fairway bunkers switch sides.
In between is sheer beauty, from the second hole that ends at the lake to back-to-back par 3s at No. 5 and No. 6 that offer stunning lake views from elevated tees.
Most of the greens are gently sloped, but a few have sharp ridges across the middle; a few others have shaved sides that funnel shots to collection areas. All roll smooth and true.
On the back, the best segment is 11 to 14, a stretch that includes a creek-side par 5 that includes a water crossing at the green, a par 3 next to that same creek, and the squiggly par-4 13th that requires a precise drive to set up a shot over encroaching water to the left to a green nearly surrounded by bunkers.
Then there is No. 14, the floating green. You get two chances to clear the water, then you have to take a drop greenside and resume counting at four. The course coordinates two foursomes at a time on the hole. One group hits, then clambers aboard The Putter, a gleaming mahogany boat, to chug over to the green. Meanwhile, the other foursome hits onto the green. By the time the second group tees off, the preceding group has putted out and is on its way back. It works out beautifully and rounds stay under 4 1/2 hours.
The course also gives you a shot at bragging rights for driving the par-4 17th, which stretches only 257 yards from the middle tees. It isn't entirely a piece of cake -- trees close in on the fairway.
The course concludes with a par 4 with sand in your face off the tee on the left side but plenty of room on the right. It, too, winds up at the lake for one more beautiful view.
Coeur d'Alene Golf and Spa Resort is a course you'll never forget. It's more bark than bite with cupped fairways, slightly sloped greens and fairway bunkers rimmed by thick rough that catch shots before they get sandy.
You'll likely card a nice score on the course that has a 71.1 slope and 119 rating from the 6,803-yard tips.
The forecaddies are fantastic, and the lake views are breathtaking. Its unique features will stay with you: floating range balls, the floating green and those bling-bling carts.
To put icing on the cake, get a little lake time and take the water shuttle to the resort for a five-star meal at Beverly's.
The resort offers a variety of packages that mix and match golf and accommodations with meals or a spa visit. For more information, see www.cdaresort.com.
June 16, 2011