The Coeur d’Alene Resort Course: An Upscale Golf Experience

The city of Coeur d’Alene sits on the shores of beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene in North Idaho. Surrounded by forests and mountains, its popularity as an upscale tourist destination has made it the largest city in the Idaho panhandle.

The Coeur d’Alene Resort
The lakeside community of Coeur d’Alene (pronounced CORE-duh-LANE) owes much of its current reputation to the Coeur d’Alene Resort, built by developer Duane Hagadone in 1986. His 18-story hotel dominates the lakefront, offering over 300 rooms plus a spa and convention facilities. A marina and a 3/4-mile floating boardwalk tie the property to the water.

Author shows her Bubba Watson form.

Hagadone’s legacy looms large in this relatively small town of just more than 40,000. He undeniably brought a certain prosperity to the community when he single-handedly turned it into a resort destination, including repurposing a defunct sawmill site into a head-turning golf course. The signature red geraniums that decorate the resort and golf course are known by locals as “Duane-iums.”

The Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course
When the golf course opened in 1991, it was immediately ranked as the No. 11 resort golf course in the nation! “Golf Digest” gave it top honors in their "Beauty and Esthetics" category. More recent kudos include being one of “Golf Digest’s” 16 (out of 6,200) five-star-ranked courses; one of “Golf Odyssey’s” top 20 courses worldwide; and No. 7 resort course in America by “Golf Digest.” The course’s website (http://www.cdaresort.com/golf) highlights a quote from “Golf Digest:”

“It’s not just upscale, it’s posh.

You aren’t just pampered here, you’re spoiled.

It’s not just an escape, it’s an experience.”

I would have to agree! I had the opportunity to play the course in June 2012.

Author with husband Mike Coleman at the signature hole; floating green in background.

Course Aesthetics
First of all, it’s drop-dead gorgeous. With a backdrop of forest and a sparkling lakeshore, the course is a lush, 200-acre carpet of green accented by beds of bright red “Duane-iums,” (30,000 of them, in case you’re counting). In addition to the water of the lake, a trout stream flows through the course.

Your experience begins at the driving range, where you hit floating balls into a cordoned off area of the lake — a fun and scenic touch. Then you proceed to the course itself, the pristine condition of which is maintained in part by being a “cart-path-only” course. This means you do a little more walking, but I liked being able to walk from my drive to my fairway shot and have my caddy show up with the right club. I felt like I was on the LPGA!

The course is set up with rolling contours, which screen you from other players. So while you can actually see the lake from every single hole at some point, you seldom see another golfer, which adds to the feeling of exclusivity and elegance.

Course Challenge
There are five tee levels: gold, blue, tan, copper, and mauve. I played the copper. A gold-tee player has 6,803 yards of play with a course rating of 71.1. It’s a par 71 course, with a course record of 64.

Several of the holes take advantage of the lake and the stream (Fernan Creek) as water hazards. A couple of elevated-tee par-3 holes on the front nine are particularly scenic, with sweeping views. One of these (Hole 6) provided my only par of the day. On the back nine, you have several truly outstanding, scenic holes including the sweeping, stream-flanked, 538-yard (for gold tees; 484 for me) par 5 on No. 11, before reaching the course’s signature hole, No. 14.

Other courses have floating greens, but at this writing the Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course boasts the world’s only movable floating green with No. 14.

“Don’t be intimidated by the 15,000 sq. ft. putting surface as it beckons your challenge, quietly floating 150 yards off the lakeshore. Confidence is your key to success,” croons the website. Ha! After dunking three heinous drives into the pristine waters of Lake Coeur d’Alene (for I discovered long ago that my golf balls have a magnetic attraction to water), I opted to board “Putter,” the adorable little cable-driven shuttle, to the sweet, manicured challenge of that monster green and drop a ball.

Attentive caddy from an elevated Par 3 tee block.

Course Amenities
While you can drive to the course, there is also a water approach option from the resort via two handcrafted mahogany lake shuttles, The Eagle and The Double Eagle. Whichever way you arrive, you are greeted by a helpful caddy who takes care of setting up your cart, cleaning your clubs, and getting you to the driving range. By all means, come early to maximize this pampering.

Apparently, if you are a guest at the resort, which I was not, you are also offered a complimentary sports massage. I did see a masseuse adjacent to the driving range, and for all I know we could have partaken. I didn’t ask, as I needed the time to warm up on the range. I was a little intimidated by the poshness of the situation as contrasted with the rookie level of my game, but I needn’t have been. Which brings me to the best amenity of all, from my perspective: the caddy.

Aboard “Putter” en route to floating green.

I realize that many good golf courses have caddies, but I had never had the experience of playing with one. Some of the things they do include:

* Cleaning your clubs: before the round, every time you use one during the round (which, in my case, is a lot of ball strikes!), and at the end of the round

* Accurately and quickly apprising you of each hole’s layout, hazards, and strategies

* Measuring distances to the target for each stroke

* Driving the cart and bringing you your choice of club

* Finding your ball when it goes haywire into the rough

* Stocking your cart with ice for your beverages

* Taking your lunch order prior to the turnaround and fetching it for your enjoyment on the back nine

* Rakes your sand traps

Of course, you pay for this pleasure. A round for two plus a tip for your caddy will run upwards of $400. For me, that makes an experience like this a rare treat. Packages and specials are available. For tee times or more information, see the website or contact The Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course Pro Shop at 800-935-6283.

Sally O’Neal is a Pacific Northwest native who lives about 3 hours from Coeur d’Alene. She has written about hiking, bicycling, camping, and other outdoor adventures for Sportsman’s Guide since 2000. She took up golf in 2007.

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