SNOHOMISH, Wash. - Echo Falls opened in 1992 and instantly became one of the better courses in the northwest. Designed by Jack Frei and run on a semi private basis, it is one of the more favored courses in the greater Seattle area.
Located North East of the busy city of Bellevue and about 45 minutes from Seattle, it represents a short drive into the country towards cleaner air and mountain views.
The first thing you notice when approaching the Echo Lake Country Club is the incredible clubhouse and pro-shop complex. Between the restaurant and pro-shop runs a water fall that enters into a pond that has the 18th green resting on a island in the middle of the pond.
The first look is very impressive and is what the pictures on the front of scorecards are made of. A friendly staff makes you feel welcome and makes your trip from parking lot to first tee a pleasure.
The front nine plays 2,861 yards and the only real test for distance is the par three's, 5 and 7, which play around 185 yards from the blue tees. The normal hole is much like No. 1, 324 yards with tree-lined fairways. The green on one is guarded by sand traps and well placed swails. The green on No. 1 is hard and fast and takes a nice approach to hold the green.
No. 5, the first par 5, gives you a good indication of the short par 5's at Echo Lake that are all very reachable with good tee shots. The landing area for the drive is large and lets the player flex his muscle. Accuracy is paramount as you try to reach the par five's because of quick rock hard greens.
The last hole on the front side represents the greatest challenge on the front. Playing from the blues, I had to make a two hundred yard carry into a narrow landing area. The second shot forces you to hit a relatively long shot into a narrow hard green. If a shot wanders on nine, it will make recovery very difficult.
The back nine plays 2,761 yards and is more wooded and is lined with out of bounds. With accurate shots, players will continue to hit the shorter clubs into greens with relative ease.
Hole number eleven is like most of the par fours, short but tricky. On the right is a large hill that ruins your lie for errant shots to the right and out of bounds to the left . A straight shot is rewarded with a simple shot into a flat green. If your shot leaves the landing area, players are faced with difficult stances or penalty strokes.
The two signature holes and the ones that you will remember are seventeen and eighteen. Both holes bring you in sight of the clubhouse and with the pond that guards both the greens and the clubhouse. Seventeen and eighteen will keep players coming back for the challenge and views.
No. 17 is by far the most difficult hole on the course. A par four, measuring 462 yards from the blues, its green is fronted by water with little room for error, for the 180 yard plus second shot. Many play seventeen as a par five and take what they can get. My second was completely over water with a four iron into a shallow green, my third shot was a drop.
No. 18 is a 147-yard par four with a green resting on a island. The hard greens make you land the ball towards the front or risk having it bounce over and into the pond. The tee box sets your sights directly at the million dollar view of the clubhouse. It is truly a good day when you finish putting on an island green with the Cascade mountains in the background.
The main problem with Echo Falls is the lack of commitment to the golf course. They should have spent a few more bucks on longer, more challenging par fours instead of deciding to maximize profits selling houses. Also, with so many players coming from the nearby metropolitan area, the greens are worn and not up to the standard the clubhouse sets. Million dollar houses and clubhouses deserve a million dollar golf course.
Echo Lake is not a world-class golf destination, but it is a reasonably priced golf course that's well worth your time. Echo Lake serves as a beautiful in-between golf course for those unable to afford a expensive membership but are seeking competitive golf close to a city center.
20414 121st Ave SE
Snohomish, WA 98296