Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Palouse Ridge Golf Course Review

Palouse Ridge Golf Course 
Pullman, Washington, United States

Architect: John Harbottle (2008)

7,308 Yards, Par-72

Rating/Slope: 75.9/140

My Quick Review: Worth playing but not worth travelling for.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to play John Harbottle's Palouse Ridge GC at the Washington State University in Pullman, WA.  My expectations were moderate and they were easily matched and exceeded.  The course is very worth playing if you are in the area, though not necessarily worth travelling to see.  

General observations:

1) Lots of elevation changes make for a very difficult walk (it's doable, but it wouldn't be much fun).  If you don't mind hopping in a cart, the elevation changes are lots of fun.

2) Course plays firm and fast

3) Fairway and undulation is noticeable and interesting

4) Greens have very little internal contouring

5) Very good bunker placement - always  seem to be right where you want to hit it!

6) 16-17 are the only really weak holes in my opinion

7) Parallel par 5s 9 and 18 are almost the exact same hole (though for some reason I liked 18 much better than 9)

All yardages are from the 6,723 yard blue tees (72.9/134)

Hole 1: Par 4, 407 Yards

You know how sometimes you know you're playing a course you're going to like just from the first hole?  Thus was my feeling after playing number 1 at Palouse Ridge.  The tee shot plays blind over a hill without much in the name of visual clues to suggest a preferred line off the tee --- in the shop the pro told me to favor the left, but I couldn't remember if he said left or right... I thought it was right... I was wrong.

Hole 2: Par 4, 369 Yards

Playing parallel and above hole 1, the second features another blind tee shot.  One's primary concern is not pulling the tee shot as anything left will bound all the way down to the 1st fairway, some 30 ft below.  

A single white marker gives a line off the tee.  No other visual cues to guide the golfer.

Tee shots that challenge the left side are rewarded with a preferred angle into the green:

Hole 3: Par 4, 440 Yards

Very good hole with a downhill tee shot over a diagonal hazard with an uphill approach to a green with a good kicker short.  My big question here is whether the bunker in the fairway is necessary?

Hole 4: Par 3, 158 Yards

One really scary short par 3.  Playing uphill, into a strong wind and to a back pin, I hit three-wood here.  Shots missing short or left are severely penalized.

A really interestingly placed bunker.  There is a large kicker right of the green that can be used to get the ball on the front half of the green without having to challenge the fall-off left.  BUT, you can't get to a back pin position with it (that darned bunker gets in the way).  Playing to a back pin, one can be conservative and aim for the front half of the green where there is lots of room to miss but would leave a long putt, or they can take enough club to get to the back of the green but they must be precise with the line.

Hole 5: Par 5, 552 Yards
Tee shot has a hazard down the left and severe slope on the right side of the fairway that will kick balls toward the centre of the fairway.  Tee shots down the left leave a shorter though not much easier second shot.

Hole 6: Par 3, 217 Yards

Long, downhill, downwind and deceiving.  I hit a few shots off this tee, trying to use the kicker to the right of the green to run the ball on.  What I didn't realize was how severe the slope is.  Balls do not kick left and forward, they just kick straight left!

Hole 7: Par 4, 426 Yards

A rather forgiving cape hole.  Nothing but trouble awaits the player who cuts off a little too much, but there is lots of room left.  The fairway even has a significant left to right cant that allows bailed-out shots to kick toward the centre.

Hole 8: Par 4, 384 Yards

One of my favorite holes at PR.  The strategy is here is as it should be.  The fairway slopes left to right and the preferred appraoch is from the left.  Challenge the fairway bunker for the preferred angle in or bail out right (where there is lots of room) and face a difficult approach that must carry the bunkers fronting the green.

The approach is uphill to a green with a kicker left of the green that will allow a player that is out of position off the tee to reach the green without challenging the bunkers.

Hole 9: Par 5, 483 Yards

A simple par 5 with one really well-placed bunker.  The tee shot is over a diagonal hazard on the left to a fairway that slopes significantly toward the hazard.  Tee shots that challenge the hazard are rewarded with a shorter approach / easier lay up, though those wanting to go for it in 2 will find an easier 2nd from the right.

There is a single very well placed bunker approximately 100 yards from the green.  Approaches are best played from the right, though one must choose whether to challenge the bunker (carry it) or lay back of it.  

Hole 10: Par 5, 566 Yards

I loved this par 5.  A very dramatic tee shot with trouble all the way down the right and lots of room left.

Not such a ho-hum layup.  There is a steep slope to the right that one must avoid.  There is another really well placed fairway bunker.  Fairway slopes left to right and you can't miss right.  Bunker is right where you want to hit it.  Pick your poison, lay-up to it or carry it or try to find the narrow portion of fairway right of it.  Love the options.

Hole 11: Par 3, 156 Yards

Even at only 150 yards this is a very intimidating and difficult par 3.  The hole is straight uphill and just long enough that most players will be hitting at least a mid-iron into the green.

Hole 12: Par 4, 426 Yards

Another really intimidating tee shot where there is reward for challenging the trouble.  Tee shots missed right can tumble all the way down to the 14th fairway leaving an all but impossible approach, though approaches from the right are preferred.

Hole 13: Par 3, 217 Yards

One of the more penal holes on the golf course.  This par 3 is long and into the wind with little bailout.  Bunkers short-right and long-left will catch most misses from the right-handed golfer.  Short-left and long-right are the places to miss.

Oddly, this is one of the most severely undulating greens at PR. Not quite sure why Harbottle would choose this green to be so undulated given the difficulty of the hole.  Perhaps a recognition that few will be hitting the green in regulation and making for a more difficult up and down?

Hole 14: Par 4, 401 Yards

Lots of room right and penal bunkers left.  Most tee shots will feed off the sloping fairway to one of two fairway collection areas leaving a short iron into the green.

Hole 15: Par 4, 345 Yards

The hole plays sub-300 yards from all but the back two sets, where the angle off the tee is significantly different.

From the white tee (298 yards)

From the blue tee (345 yards).  The green is still within reach for the longest of hitters, but for the shorter hitter (like myself), there is little interest off the tee as the only real choice is to play right of all of the bunkers.  I like this hole better from the forward sets.

I spent a few minutes messing around on this green.  Depending on green speeds, slopes right and long-right of the green can be used to feed balls all the way down to the front-left.

Hole 16: Par 3, 119 Yards

And so begins a rather poor finish to a good golf course.

Hole 16 feels like a bit of filler, needing to get the player from 15 to 17.  A simple, short par 3, with a medium sized flat green and little trouble.  It is a rather exposed area so I suppose if the wind is really blowing it would make the hole more interesting, but nonetheless I think more could (and should) have been done with this hole.

Hole 17: Par 5, 501 Yards

The tee shot on 17 is semi-blind, though there are enough visual clues that player knows that right is better.

For the second shot, the player must choose if he wants to challenge the water and go for the green in two, or lay back and aim for the wide part of the fairway.  Another well-placed bunker just over the water ensures that a player cannot waffle on his decision.  Either lay-up or go for it as something in between will mean trouble.

Hole 18: Par 5, 518 Yards

Hole 18 looks a heck of a lot like 9.  The fairway bunker provides a pretty good aiming point for most players.  Shots that bail right are fine too.

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