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The Best Of The Best: The TPC at Snoqualmie Ridge

By Chris Sitzenstock, Contributor

Snoqualmie, Wash. - The TPC at Snoqualmie Ridge is the best golf course this reviewer has ever played. Whether it is gazing off in the distance to the one hundred and eighty degree panoramic views of the Cascade mountains or the challenge of a golf course made for the pros, Snoqualmie Ridge is the best in Washington.

The best way I can describe the course is it is like taking the signature hole from eighteen different golf courses and putting them all on one amazing layout.

Snoqualmie Ridge opened this year but the Jack Nicklaus design feels like it has always been part of the landscape. The 7,264 yard course meanders along serene valley's to the edge of cliffs looking down towards the outskirts of Seattle suburbs. There are holes that make you feel as if you were to slice one off the cliffs, your ball might end up in a different county.

Jack Nicklaus didn't just design a beautiful place to see the sights, he made the most challenging course this reviewer has ever played.

Upon reaching the parking lot you can see a large practice area and a large clubhouse complex with pro-shop, restaurant, and various member facilities. The club house, like the rest of the course is impressive and most definitely leaves an impression. Every fairway and every green is in flawless shape. That shows a real dedication to providing the best possible golf course.

I started off on the first hole with a good drive down the middle that eased my fears of a TPC course eating me alive. It took four great shots to get my first birdie and what would also be my last. The first two holes, a 530 yard par five and a 388 yard par four, are probably the easiest on the course. Both holes are well bunkered and demand accurate shot making but good shots will be rewarded with a good score.

Hole number three rests on top of a large hill and it feels as if you are on the top of your own personal mountain. The hole itself is a 439 yard par four and the day I played it there was a cross wind and the pin was in the back corner of the green leaving little margin for error. This hole truly makes you appreciate what the pros on TV are doing when they talk about the long, hard par four.

Hole four dips into a small valley with a tee shot over a wetland. The par four says 400 yards but seemed to play shorter. The hole is framed by towering Douglas Firs with mountains overshadowing the playing arena. I had just a seven iron into a elevated green and hit it right on the numbers and landed within feet of the pin only to bounce over into a trap.

Errant shots are severely punished. I had to hit out of the bunker to a hole that was head high from where I stood in the bunker and I had about ten feet of green to work with. Shots like this were quite common when you tried to hit it close and failed, an almost impossible up and down.

The first par three is number six, a two hundred and seven yard par three. The day I played, the wind was swirling right in my face and a bit to the left. One can see for miles around at this hole. I sat in the cart and just gazed around for a minute or two before I thought about what to hit. With wind in your face, a pin in the front portion of the green makes it almost impossible to think about landing on the green. All I could do was take a two iron hit and hope.

Hole number seven, a 354 yard par four finally seemed like a relatively easy hole, but it was very deceptive. The tee shot carries over a gully and bunkers are everywhere. The approach to the green is very demanding with feet in between failure and greatness. This hole can be easy or a nightmare of sand and rough.

Hole number nine is a 196 yard par three with the entire carry over water. There is really no safe place to hit it and one simply has to hit a great shot. Even hitting the green is no guarantee because the green is shallow with a large hill in back sloping back to the tee box and the water. This hole really shows players that if you want to play here, you must hit good long irons.

The best view I have ever seen on a golf course is on hole number 12, a 412 yard par four. From the tee box you can see Snoqualmie Falls and the lodge that rests at the top of the falls. In the distance you can see the snow on the cascades and look down to the valley below. I have hiked for hours to see views that did not compare to the views on this special hole. The hole itself makes you hit it long and straight in between strategically placed bunkers that Mr. Nicklaus left for you.

It is hard to pick a favorite hole on a course like this but number 14, the 431 yard par four is what exciting golf is made of. The hole and the entire fairway rests on the opposite side of a large canyon. The farther you can hit it off the tee, the closer you can get for your second. I tempted fate and went for it with the driver and had under a hundred yards left to a relatively small green. Confidence truly creates scoring on a well designed, very mentally challenging hole like this.

The last par three on the course in number 17. Measuring around one hundred and ninety yards with a carry over water to a shallow green. It is possible to bail out to the right for a relatively straight forward up and down. The day I played number seventeen, the wind was directly in my face making the hole extra long and intimidating, with water gobbling up anything on the short side.

The eighteenth hole is just a 482 yard par five going uphill to the clubhouse. The hole is named "The Craftsman" because one must craft a pretty good tee shot off the tee to miss the maze of bunkers that are in and around the fairway. It takes a bit of luck and guts to miss the bunkers or one can elect to play safe off to the left which makes the hole longer and impossible to reach in two. Large hills line the green and you can imagine them full of spectators during a tournament.

Putting in on eighteen, you really feel like you just accomplished something special. It is easy to imagine watching golf on TV some day in the future, and watching a pro putting in on the same hole with the hills lined with fans, from the same place you did.

The only real complaint I had about the course is the exclusivity and the fact that I will probably never get to play there again. The exclusivity was very obvious when instead of playing one of the best courses in the country feeling like king for a day, I felt insecure about my middle class position in society, which has never happened to me on a golf course. All and all the golf course makes up for everything with hole after hole of exciting and challenging golf.

The TPC at Snoqualmie Ridge is what I will compare all other golf courses against now, because in my mind it sets the standard for other golf courses to try to attain. If you ever have the chance to play Snoqualmie Ridge, make sure you do, if for nothing else than to stare down the fairway and see the brilliance of Jack Nicklaus and the wonder of mother nature.

The TPC at Snoqualmie Ridge

36005 SE Ridge Road
Snoqualmie, WA 98065
(425) 396-6001

Chris Sitzenstock, Contributor


 
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