THE CLUB AT BLACK ROCK
Course Architect: James J. Engh
Year Opened: 2003
Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Slope: 143. Rating: 74.2
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 375 Yds 10 - Par 4 398 Yds
2 - Par 3 209 Yds 11 - Par 4 413 Yds
3 - Par 5 611 Yds 12 - Par 5 568 Yds
4 - Par 4 407 Yds 13 - Par 3 150 Yds
5 - Par 5 556 Yds 14 - Par 3 157 Yds
6 - Par 4 428 Yds 15 - Par 4 453 Yds
7 - Par 3 233 Yds 16 - Par 5 585 Yds
8 - Par 5 602 Yds 17 - Par 4 368 Yds
9 - Par 3 201 Yds 18 - Par 4 416 Yds
Par 36 3,622 Yds Par 36 3,508 Yds
Awards Won: #1 Best-in-State Rankings (Idaho) - Golf Digest (2005-08),
#50 Golf Magazine - Top-50 Greatest Courses last 50 years (2009),
#11 Best Residential Golf Course in America - Golfweek (2006-07),
Top 100 America's Best Modern Courses by Golfweek (2006),
Top 40 New Golf Course in America by Golfweek (2005),
America's Best New Private Course by Golf Digest (2003).
Websites: www.blackrockidaho.com, blackrockdevelopment.com.
HISTORY: After spending most of his young adult life in the automobile
business wheeling and dealing, Marshall Chesrown decided to take another
calculated risk, purchasing 650 acres of pristine land high above Rockford Bay
overlooking beautiful Lake Coeur d'Alene in Idaho.
You see, at the age of 18, Chesrown received a music scholarship to San Diego
State, after spending his childhood in Spokane, Washington. During the summer
prior to his first year in college, Chesrown took a job in San Diego working
for his uncle at a car dealership. During his first semester at school,
Chesrown took a chance, dropped out of school and went back to work with his
uncle at one of the largest Buick dealerships in the country. After climbing
his way to the top, Chesrown became the youngest Toyota dealer in the United
States. The rest, as they say, is history, as all the pieces fell into place
and Chesrown made millions after selling his Automotive Group, which consisted
of eleven companies.
Moving back to the region, Chesrown, yet again, took another chance and
decided to create a community for the well-to-do, complete with all the bells
and whistles. With more than 200 homesites, condominiums and houses already on
site, another 1,150 acres have been purchased, with an additional 345
properties to be built. Not only will the new homesites range from one-third
acre to four acres, all of the houses will be sold furnished.
The private, gated community is surrounded by an exciting golf course crafted
by Jim Engh. Not familiar with Mr. Engh? He's been in the business over 23
years and has designed over 20 courses, mostly in Colorado, and was named
Architect of the Year by Golf Digest in 2003. His award-winning talent has
certainly shown through at the Club at Black Rock, as it was named the best
new private course in the United States by Golf Digest. Leaving nothing to
chance, Engh has personally crafted each and every fairway, weaving his
creativity into the natural surroundings.
When all is said and done, an additional Tom Weiskopf-designed layout will be
added to the mix, along with an 18-hole putting course, a par three layout and
a second clubhouse.
Less than one hour from Spokane, The Club at Black Rock not only features
outstanding golf, but a full-service Marina, Equestrian Facilities, an event
center and unlimited Concierge service. These amenities do not come cheap, as
the membership deposit is $125,000, plus the usual monthly fees. With over 300
memberships in fold, luxury certainly has its rewards.
Not one to retire at such a young age, Chesrown continues to develop projects
in the Eastern Washington and Coeur d'Alene areas, but his marquee property
that re-defines luxury is the diamond of the Gem State, Black Rock.
COURSE ANALYSIS: The opening dogleg left first at Black Rock is a good
starting hole, as it slowly works you into the round. Just 375 yards from the
tips, the hole plays downhill from the tee and requires just a fairway metal
or long iron to reach the very accessible fairway. Big hitters certainly can
use driver off the tee favoring a draw, but don't miss left, as you'll end up
out-of-bounds. A wedge should remain to a gently sloping green with a ridge
from front to back. Only 28 paces deep, the putting surface could be hard to
get at, especially with a back-left pin, where there is a finger of green and
grass bunkers to the left.
The first of three outstanding par threes on the front nine, the second is a
downhill beauty that features a long, rolling green stretching 42 yards in
length. Water and marsh cover the front and right side, while a hill and thick
rough guard the left. Club selection is crucial with this mammoth green that
is affected by the wind. Any shot missing left will have virtually no shot at
getting up and down, as the putting surface is quite slick. It's hard to be
pinpoint with a long iron, so hope for a calm day.
If it's long you want, you've come to the right place, as the third is the
grandest hole on the course. A whopping 611 yards from the black markers, the
tee rises 180 feet above the split fairway. Driving down into the valley,
there is no sand to avoid, just fescue-style brush on either side, as the
landing area runs out around the 300-yard mark. Reaching the promised land in
two is very unlikely, so lay up to the second fairway with a mid iron down the
right, to set up your best approach, as the fairway slopes to the left. Just a
little wedge will remain to cross a ravine to a miniscule green, just 18 steps
deep. The putting surface is surprisingly wide with just one little bunker,
short and left, so be precise with your short game and you could have a very
good shot at birdie.
The key on the dogleg fourth is the tee shot, however the approach is not a
given either. Only 407 yards from the tips, your drive must carry the ridge in
the fairway around the 200-yard mark, otherwise, the slope of the fairway will
send the ball back down the hill 60 yards! Just to keep you honest, a deep
bunker down the right guards that portion of the fairway, while another
monster trap protects down the left. A short iron should suffice as you
approach the green, however the putting surface is long and very narrow, with
little room for error. Short-right and long will result in thick underbrush,
so even though there are no greenside traps, you must be spot on.
Beginning with the fifth, the next three holes are open to the elements and
when the wind is up, they could be quite difficult. Another split fairway par
five, this lengthy hole can be reached in two, but it requires two big shots.
Native grasses surround the entire hole and are in full view on the elevated
tee. The fairway is generous, however a long bunker down the left will make
second-shot options difficult and any ball off the landing area will be
penalized heavily. Your second shot, over a grassy ravine, is played slightly
uphill to the putting surface or landing area, however you must avoid the over
100-yard long trap that weaves in and out down the left. The green is only 19
paces deep, but very wide with a gentle ridge in the center. Take advantage if
you can, I certainly did.
The sixth is the longest par four on the opening nine and second lengthiest on
the course. What makes this hole difficult is that it usually plays back into
the wind and with water down the right side and towards the green, that could
spell doom. The landing area is very generous and devoid of sand, however the
lake can be troublesome. A mid to long iron, depending upon the breeze is
needed to traverse the two framing pot bunkers short and the water right. The
putting surface is very slick with multiple, difficult pin placements. Just 27
paces long, the green is over 50 steps wide and with a right-hand pin, all the
trouble comes into play.
Number seven is the longest of the five par threes on the course at 233 yards.
Slightly uphill, the hole is beautifully framed by the native grasses and
slope of the land. A deep, cavernous trap sits in the center, guarding one of
the biggest greens on the course. Missing on the wrong side could result in a
three-putt, so club yourself wisely.
One of the most spectacular holes in the area, the eighth is another 600-yard-
plus par five. A huge drop from the tee, this gem offers a wonderful views of
the distant mountains and lake Coeur d'Alene. The bunker down the right is
more of an aiming point, as the fairway slopes to the left. Be careful
however, as you'll need 200 yards to clear the sand. With plenty of roll, it's
possible to get home, but you'll need a howitzer to clear the marsh and the
army of pot bunkers fronting the green. The smart play would be to layup down
the right side, leaving just a wedge to the undulating putting surface. The
green is wide and shallow with a huge ridge in the center. Take your chances
with your short game to set up the best birdie chance.
The closing hole on the front nine is another 200-yard-plus par three. This
one is over water to a long, sloping green. The pond down the left is
reminiscent of Augusta's 16th, including the boomerang putting surface. Two
pot bunkers guard the front, but it's the green that can play havoc with its
undulating surface. With my four-iron in hand, I made a deuce from four feet,
so anything's possible.
A semi-blind tee shot awaits on the 10th, as you start the back side. Although
played from an elevated tee, the fairway is somewhat obscured by the trees and
the slope of the landing area. What's in full view is breathtaking Lake Coeur
d'Alene. It's not the longest of holes, but quite narrow off the tee with
trees down the left side. The fairway opens up on the right, which is the best
angle towards the dogleg left green. The putting surface is below the fairway
and very slim with mounding left and a deep pot bunker right. Choose the right
play with your approach, as any shot long is jail, or worse, lost. The green
slopes hard from back to front and is very slick. Stay below the hole for your
best shot at birdie.
The phrase "signature hole" has not made it into the review until now, only
because I was saving it, as almost every hole at Black Rock could be
considered a "signature hole." The 11th fits the bill to a tee. From an
elevated tee box, the hole requires a fairway metal or iron from the start to
a very generous fairway 100 feet below. Words of caution however: the views of
Lake Coeur d'Alene are sensational, so focus on the task at hand, as OB right
looms large and a treacherous hillside stands left. From the fairway, the play
moves to the left and uphill to a green guarded by waterfalls and humungous
rock formations. The sliver of putting surface that's in view is long and two-
tiered, making your approach quite difficult.
Number 12 is a roller coaster par five that stretches 568 yards from the black
markers. An inviting fairway sits well below the tee with pine trees framing
the entire hole. Play down the right side off the tee to set up the best angle
for your uphill approach that bends to the left. From the front of the fairway
bunker down the left side, you'll need over 300 yards to get home, so the best
suggestion is a fairway metal, again down the right to set up an uphill pitch
to the elevated green. A deep, trench-like trap guards the right front portion
of the putting surface, so stay clear. The green is one of the calmest on the
course, so if you can, take advantage.
When was the last time you saw a par three with five waterfalls dropping down
from the side of a cliff? That's what I thought. The 13th not only features
beauty, but also the longest green on the course at 50 yards. A smartly shaped
trap down the right certainly comes into play from the elevated tee box, as
players attempt to bail out from the left side water. The putting surface
features a large spine in the center, running from left to right, which will
affect the slope of the green. Three-putting is quite common.
You might think you have enough club on the 14th, but choose wisely. The
second straight par three requires a 157-yard shot, downhill over a ravine to
a shallow, but very wide green. Carved into the hillside, the putting surface
is 45 paces wide, but only 25 steps in depth. Not only is club selection key,
but your nerves will be tested as well. A front-left pin is downright
The longest par four on the course, the sharp, dogleg left 15th, is a massive
453 yards from the tips, playing uphill from tee to green and completely
devoid of sand. The drive is the key ingredient for success on the 15th, as it
must fly over a ravine and through several pines. The landing area is wide,
but any shot off the fairway and rough will end up in native grasses, not a
pleasant spot, just ask my playing partner. Your uphill second, with most
likely a long iron, must negotiate another slender green with a ridge in the
center. The putting surface is built into the countryside, providing a
wonderful amphitheater for spectators. There's good reason this is the fourth
hardest hole on the course.
At 585 yards, the par-five 16th is the longest hole on the back side. Despite
its length, this monster is actually reachable in two. The elevated tee
affords the player a panoramic view of what's in store. Bomb a tee ball down
the right side of the sloping fairway, and you'll have a great look at the
green. One slight problem, your second will have to cover over 220 yards
across a lake and splitting pines to reach the promised land. The smart action
is to lay up to the adjoining fairway on the right, leaving just a short pitch
to a tiny green. The putting surface features plenty of slope, not to mention
a bunker between the water and the green.
As short as the 17th says on paper (368 yards), it plays every bit as long as
the 400-plus holes at Black Rock. Playing directly uphill, this straightaway
par four requires a 200-yard pop from the tips to clear the brush and reach
the fairway, which is guarded on both sides by pines and thick rough. Avoid
the handful of traps that loom along the right landing area. The putting
surface is well above the fairway and protected by eight pot bunkers dotted in
the hillside. Shockingly, the teardrop-shaped green is mild in comparison to
others and can be had. That is of course if you can get your blind approach
close to the flag.
The final brilliant hole at Black Rock is the stellar, uphill par-four 18th.
Not overly long by today's standards, the finale plays downhill to the
fairway and back up towards the green. Sand and trees right must be avoided
off the tee. Even with a successful tee ball, you'll need an extra club or two
to shoot the corridor towards the putting surface. An 80-yard long trap down
the right side reaches the edge of the green. The short grass is very long and
narrow, as it slopes from back to front. A mishit shot from the fairway,
could slide back down, away from the green. A great finish to a great golf
FINAL WORD: When a course is rated the number one venue in the state year
after year, one must take notice. Well, I'm here to tell you, seeing and
playing is believing!
The Club at Black Rock rivals any modern day track built in the last 10 years,
if not longer. This IS a championship course. Many layouts mention that they
have 18 holes of championship golf, which is just a phrase to entice you to
play. Black Rock is every bit a championship track and more.
Let's run it down, beginning with the 31,000 square foot clubhouse. Elegantly
appointed as it overlooks the lake, it exudes a warmth and charm, reminiscent
of the region. The northwest, rustic detail and design are impeccable,
complete with open fire pits, plush leather seating and of course, a few
bottles of vino. In addition to the clubhouse, Black Rock features a full-
stocked golf shop, a fitness facility, tennis courts, spa treatments, swimming
pool and a top-notch practice range.
The real winner at Black Rock, however, is the golf course. Aesthetically
speaking, Black Rock has few equals. Perched high above Lake Coeur d'Alene,
the course breathes excitement. From the rolling terrain, prairie-style
landscape, cascading water falls, black rock cliffs, elevation changes and
beautiful views, Black Rock is a scenic marvel.
As far as playability, Black Rock has four sets of tee boxes ranging from
4,900 to 7,130 yards, however, the scorecard is mapped out to play at seven
different lengths, so all levels of play can experience the course.
What really sets the Club at Black Rock apart is its wonderful routing,
sensational layout, superb conditions and amazing beauty. This is one golf
course and experience I will never forget. Make no mistake, this is golf and
living at its best.