Salish Cliffs Golf Club

Published on Monday, July 30th, 2012 in Course of the Week


The 9th and 18th greens at Salish Cliffs Golf Club. Photo by Brian Oar /

(360) 462-FORE (3673)

It’s not everyday that a new golf course opens in your backyard. In fact, only a dozen new courses opened in North America in 2011, which makes it all the more remarkable that two of them are located right here in Washington — Suncadia’s Rope Rider and the Salish Cliffs Golf Club.

Located just outside of Shelton at the Little Creek Casino Resort, Salish Cliffs has been one of the nation’s most anticipated new courses for nearly two years, since the first tractors began clearing dirt and trees from the bluffs overlooking south Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula. That’s largely due to the man at the helm — Gene Bates, whose previous Northwest effort was the internationally-acclaimed Circling Raven in Idaho.

At Salish Cliffs, Bates has taken many of the same elements that make Circling Raven great — a seamless integration with the natural landscape, impeccable greens and sparkling white bunkers — and used them to decorate a creative design in which no two holes play alike.

The first three holes do a good job of setting the stage for what’s to come. Golfers tee off at the par-5 first from an elevated tee box, to a broad fairway framed on the right by a large oak tree, and on the left by a fairway bunker. Played at just 490 yards from the 6,300-yard “Players” tees (the third of five sets of tee boxes), two well-placed shots can set a golfer up for birdie or better, but a wayward tee shot will make par a good score.

That’s followed by the 250-yard, uphill, par-4 second, where the layup to a fairway surrounded by tall native grasses is almost as risky as simply letting it fly towards the well-protected green. With bunkers to the left and short right, and a steep dropoff into the native grass right and behind, there’s plenty of risk — but at just 250 yards, plenty of reward, too.

After a potential two-shot par-5 and a reachable par-4 to start your round, golfers then have to navigate a 211-yard par-3, where the downhill slope is countered by the prevailing wind. Hopefully you’ve taken advantage of the chance to put a circle on the scorecard at No.s 1 or 2, because you very well might give one back at No. 3.

And so it goes for the next 15 holes — a fun mix of risk-reward opportunities (concluding with the chance to let fly with the three-wood on an approach shot over water at the par-5 18th), challenging par-4s, doglegs and significant elevation changes. Nearly all of the par-3s are played from elevated tees, and every green on the golf course is in impeccable condition.

Current rates peak at $99 on summer weekends, but drop as low as $55 on a weekday afternoon — and $89/$50, respectively, when paired with a stay at the Little Creek Casino … which, especially if you’re coming from the North end, isn’t a bad idea.

Leave a Reply