Gamble Sands

Published on Monday, June 30th, 2014 in Course of the Week

Gamble Sands GolfBrewster | 509-436-8323

When you visit the Gamble Sands website, you’re greeted by a simple message: “Experience Gamble Sands.”

And it’s something you absolutely must do.

Having cut his teeth on Bandon Dunes, Tetherow and many of the top courses around the world, Northwest resident David McLay Kidd has finally shone his bright light on Washington, building his latest gem high above a bend of the Columbia River outside Brewster, about 40 minutes north of Chelan.

Over a period of thousands of years, that river bend has deposited acre upon acre of sand on its eastern bank, building up a massive series of dunes that were useless for planting apples, but perfect for building a golf course. Indeed, when Kidd first saw the site, he called it “almost impossible to believe,” and said that it was one of just three “perfect” sites he has ever been given in his career.

The course that Kidd crafted on this dream location is as fun and memorable as you’d expect. Kidd’s stated goal in building Gamble Sands was to make a course that was visually stimulating, mentally challenging, but not too physically demanding. Whether a 2 or a 22, he wanted golfers to swing with confidence from the tee box, and walk away at the end of the day with a fair score.

On both fronts, Kidd has been quite successsful. From the tee box, every fairway — even those bisected by bunkers — look a mile wide. That doesn’t mean you can’t slice one into the sandy wastes that line every hole — just that to do so will require a particularly poor shot; one that, honestly, gets what it deserves. That said, you can — and we did — get away with plenty of bad shots at Gamble Sands, whose slopes around every green funnel balls back down towards the putting surface, and whose firm, fast fairways add an extra 25-50 yards to even a mis-hit drive.

Among our favorite holes are the reachable, par-4 second with its infinity green dropping off a cliff to the river valley below; the epic par-5 third, where golfers tee off blind over a wall of sand; the long par-4 fifth, which bends cape-style around a long waste bunker, daring golfers to hug the sand for a short approach; the downhill, par-3 third, where balls played off the hillside to the right funnel down to the pin; the short par-4 11th and 12th holes; the par-3 16th with its green half-hidden behind a large mound; and the par-5 18th, a risk-reward thriller where many an eagle will no doubt be put on the scorecard this fall.

In all, it’s an experience unlike just about any other in the state of Washington, certainly any outside Wine Valley or Chambers Bay, the two tracks that most approximate Gamble’s true links style. It’s also a quick round, despite the course’s size — tee times, which can be scheduled now for rounds starting Aug. 1, are being staggered 20 minutes apart, meaning you’ll almost never find yourself waiting on another group. That’s one reason we recommend walking, which will save you $30 off the $159 full-price greens fee, and $20 off the $105 afternoon rate (after 2 p.m.).

If you’re doing it as a day trip, leave the west side at 10 a.m., hit Brewster just before 2 and enjoy your next four hours on the course, then make it back home by 10 p.m. And if you’re tacking a round at Gamble onto a weekend of golf in and around Chelan, plan to hit it later in the day to take advantage of that $85 afternoon walking rate.

One Response to “Gamble Sands”

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