The Impossible Dream

Published on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 in Features

Current superintendent Kevin Hicks was joined by original superintendent Steve Mass to celebrate the floating green’s 25th anniversary in 2016.

Coeur d’Alene’s famous floating green is half-way to its life expectancy now, having celebrated its 25th anniversary last May. Currently groomed by superintendent Kevin Hicks, it is as immaculately turned out as ever, and the rest of the course likewise continues to impress, especially following the greens’ successful transition to T1 bentgrass.

Though lengthened in 2003, when Miller added about 500 yards and used “a lot of explosives” to create a new-look fifth hole after Hagadone requested “more sizzle,” the course retains the architect’s original routing and look.

“Even though the region has boasted wonderful courses and hosted important golf championships over the past 100 years, Coeur d’Alene’s floating green helped bring a lot of modern-day attention to Idaho and the Pacific Northwest,” says Jeff Shelley, co-founder of Cybergolf.com and author of “Golf Courses of the Pacific Northwest.” “It’s pretty fun to play, too.”

Longtime Seattle Times sportswriter and noted area golf historian Craig Smith recalls, “The floating green was a staple for awhile in golf conversations. ‘Did you hear about that floating green on the new course at Lake Coeur d’Alene?’ It was similar to hearing guys say in 2007 and 2008, ‘Have you played Chambers Bay yet?’”

White Horse Director of Golf Operations Bruce Christy says that Coeur d’Alene changed the perception of golf in the Northwest.

“At the time that Coeur d’Alene was being built, Washington and the Pacific Northwest courses really were not part of the active golf scene discussions,” he says. “It helped to reinforce just how beautiful the area is and how something so unique like the floating green could act as a magnet to draw players out to the resort in Idaho. It helped put Northwest courses on the map and made golf resorts out west impressionable for traveling players.”

Miller may not have liked island greens all that much – but this one, and the golf course he built around it, have had a lasting legacy that goes far beyond the resort perimeter. And Miller is just fine with that.

“Coeur d’Alene is definitely one of my top achievements,” he says. “I’m very proud of it. Golf architects aren’t supposed to have favorites among their own courses, but it would be hard for me not to favor it. It’s very special to me.”

Bellingham-based Tony Dear is an award-winning author and journalist, and a longtime contributor to Cascade Golfer. Find his golf books online at Amazon.com.

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