Salish Cliffs Golf Club
(360) 462-FORE (3673)
Itâ€™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 â€” Suncadiaâ€™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 nationâ€™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. Thatâ€™s largely due to the man at the helm â€” 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 â€” a seamless integration with the natural landscape, impeccable greens and sparkling white bunkers â€”Â 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 whatâ€™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 â€śPlayersâ€ť 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.
Thatâ€™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, thereâ€™s plenty of risk â€” 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 youâ€™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 â€” 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 â€” and $89/$50, respectively, when paired with a stay at the Little Creek Casino â€¦ which, especially if youâ€™re coming from the North end, isnâ€™t a bad idea.