COEUR d'ALENE RESORT
Course Architect: Scott Miller (Redesign work in 2003)
Year Opened: 1991
Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Slope: 119. Rating: 71.1
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 5 540 Yds 10 - Par 4 469 Yds
2 - Par 4 479 Yds 11 - Par 5 538 Yds
3 - Par 3 155 Yds 12 - Par 3 249 Yds
4 - Par 4 322 Yds 13 - Par 4 368 Yds
5 - Par 3 148 Yds 14 - Par 3 218 Yds
6 - Par 3 169 Yds 15 - Par 5 495 Yds
7 - Par 4 435 Yds 16 - Par 4 429 Yds
8 - Par 4 437 Yds 17 - Par 4 269 Yds
9 - Par 5 601 Yds 18 - Par 4 482 Yds
Par 35 3,286 Yds Par 36 3,517 Yds
Awards Won: #2 State-by-State Public-Access Courses (Idaho) - Golfweek (2007),
Top 100 Golf Resorts - Conde Nast Traveler (2007),
America's Top Golf Courses - ZAGAT (2007),
Gold Medal - Top 20 Courses in America - Golf Magazine (2000, 06),
#4 Best-in-State Rankings (Idaho) - Golf Digest (2005-06),
#57 Top 100 You Can Play - Golf Magazine (2006),
Most Underrated Resort (#2) - Travel + Leisure Golf (2006),
4 1/2 stars by Golf Digest - Best Places to Play (2006),
Audobon Sanctuary Approved (2000)
America's Most Beautiful Resort Golf Course - Golf Digest (1992).
Events Held: Merrill Lynch Shootout (1992),
Bank of America Quarterback Classic (1995),
Albertson's Northwest Classic,
American Seniors Golf Association (2007).
Websites: www.cdaresort.com and floatinggreen.com
HISTORY: Located just a short distance from Spokane, Washington, Coeur d'Alene
Resort opened in the summer of 1986 to plenty of fanfare. What really opened
people's eyes however, was the creation of the world-class golf course just a
few years later.
Formerly part of the Jack Nicklaus design team, Scott Miller was awarded the
task of creating something special from a piece of land used as an old sawmill
back in the day, before the Hagadone Corporation purchased the property in
Miller, who became enthralled in golf design in his early teens, entered a
contest to secure the job and the rest, as they say, is history. For more than
25 years, Miller has been crafting courses all around the world, most notably
in the Far East and Arizona. Some of his most recent work, the courses at We-
Ko-Pa Golf Club and the Golf Club at Eagle Mountain outside of Scottsdale,
have received many accolades.
It was his work at Coeur d'Alene, his first independent effort, that put
Miller on the map. Opened in 1991, Coeur d'Alene was named just one year later
as America's Most Beautiful Resort Golf Course by Golf Digest. Pretty high
praise for an architect who drew plans for golf courses in the sixth and
seventh grade and "didn't even know at the time that they had 18 holes on most
Miller has a simple design philosophy: maintain the natural beauty of the
land, while at the same time varying the degree of difficulty. According to
his website, the courses reflect his skills as an imaginative designer,
provide challenges to the world's top players and enable the everyday golfer
to thoroughly enjoy their golf experience. What Miller has crafted is a
wonderful and unforgettable golf experience.
As recent as 2003, Miller oversaw the redesign of the course, adding over 400
yards in length with several new tees and bunkers. It comes as no surprise
that many publications have declared Coeur d'Alene as the best-conditioned
course in America.
No expense was spared with the landscaping either, as 20,000 red geraniums dot
the course, not to mention 35,000 junipers, wild flowers and hundreds of
ancient Ponderosa Pines that accentuate the senses.
As expected, maintenance of the course is quite extensive, but no work is done
on the course until the completion of play. In fact, the mowers are equipped
with special lighting for night cutting, and the grounds crew are staffed 20
hours a day.
The Pièce de résistance of the course, however is awarded to the Floating
Green at the 14th. An engineering marvel, the par three was the brainchild of
Coeur d'Alene owner and resident mastermind Duane Hagadone. After watching
tugboats pull logs through the water, Hagadone came up with the idea for the
hole, but, as it turned out, that was the easy part.
A whopping 63 permits were required during the construction of the floating
green, including one that provided the drainage water from the putting surface
to be pumped back to holding tanks on land.
The green is made of 105 foam-filled concrete blocks and is computer-
controlled, adjusting the yardage every day to play in upwards of 220 yards,
but that of course is without figuring the correct club to use with the wind
off the water. Built in a remote part of the lake, tugboats pulled the work of
art six miles after its completion to its present location.
The name Coeur d'Alene is a French name adopted by the Schitsu'umsh tribe that
inhabited the region. Meaning "heart of awl," it is believed to be the early
settlers' acknowledgment of the tribe's astute trading tactics.
Coeur d'Alene has hosted several golf events over the years, including the
1992 Merrill Lynch Shootout, won by Chip Beck against a field that featured
major championship winners Craig Stadler, Jeff Sluman, Lee Janzen, John Daly
and Fuzzy Zoeller.
The awards continue to roll in for Coeur d'Alene, as Conde Nast Traveler just
voted the resort as one of the top 100 Golf Resorts and ZAGAT survey named CDA
as one of America's Top Golf Courses.
REVIEW: If you're going to take advantage of any of the holes at Coeur
d'Alene, the first hole certainly fits that category. A modest par five
stretching 540 yards and bending to the right, number one features a wide
landing area with sand down the left side and mounding down the right. A
successful tee ball can lead to going for the green in two, but bail to the
left, and a menacing bunker, not to mention the largest on the course, guards
the entire right side of the putting surface. The green is fairly quiet, so
birdie possibilities abound.
Although the ninth hole on the course is ranked as the most difficult, the
second hole in my opinion is tops. From the gold tees its 479 yards from a
chute of pines that run down both sides of the fairway to the green. Usually
played into a headwind, a big drive down the left side is required to have any
shot at getting home in regulation. The fairway angles to the right as you
near the long, two-tiered green with views of the lake in the rear. A long
iron or fairway metal will be your choice of club on the approach, if you're
lucky. The best shot at par, chipping close and one-putting. Bogey is not a
bad score, I kept telling myself.
The first of several delightful par threes, the third plays right along the
lake and is the second-shortest of the five one-shotters. Just a short iron is
needed to negotiate this gem, but beware of the left side, as anything tugged
slightly offline is jail. The putting surface features a slight ridge in the
center, so stay below the hole for your best shot at a deuce. The first of six
lake-side holes, the third is not to be taken lightly, but thank goodness for
a left-to-right wind.
Just 322 yards in length, the fourth requires pinpoint accuracy off the tee,
as the landing area is one of the tightest on the course. Sand and woods left
and a slim fairway suggest a long iron or fairway metal off the box. This will
set up a short iron to an uphill green fronted by a large rock outcropping.
The putting surface is devoid of sand and long, as it slopes from back to
front. Avoid missing left, as the out-of-bounds stakes are very close to the
Next up are back-to-back par threes. The fifth plays directly toward Lake
Coeur d'Alene, offering stupendous views of the surrounding region. Focusing
on the task at hand is quite difficult. The key here is pin placement. If the
hole is cut back-right on the Y-shaped green, you must play to the center. In
fact, that is the best advise regardless of the hole position. The putting
surface is very undulating and the enormous bunker that traverses front and
right is larger than the green itself. P.S. Avoid the rock outcroppings on the
right and in front of the surface. They're pretty, but dangerous.
The lake views get better and better and the scenery on the sixth is
outstanding. This downhill par three can play as long as 180 with a back flag
and with the wind in your face, club selection is critical. The lengthy, two-
tiered putting surface is guarded left and long by sand. This is not time for
indecision. Pick the right stick and go for it.
The closing three holes on the front nine provide quite a test, especially if
you thought the short holes prior were difficult. Number seven is one of six
par fours over 400 yards. From the elevated tee box, the player must dissect
the chute of trees to reach the fairway, not to mention avoid the fairway
bunkers down the right side. The hole then swings to the left, requiring a mid
to long iron to reach the well-guarded green. The putting surface is long with
a tier in the rear and bunkers on either side. Hope for a front pin for your
best shot at par.
One of the few times in golf you'll be penalized for hitting down the middle,
the eighth hole requires a play down the left side, as a tall Bull Pine stands
watch in the center of the fairway over an otherwise majestic par four.
Sweeping to the right, your approach is played some 30 feet downhill to the
very undulating putting surface. Bunkers down the left side of the fairway
towards the green can prove costly when you're forced to layup. Any shot
landing short of the surface, will roll back down the fairway, leaving a
tough, uphill pitch.
The ninth is a marvelous hole to finish the front side. Stretching now to over
600 yards from the gold tees, the hole bends to the left and requires a big
tee ball towards the right-center of the fairway. Bunkers down the right side
provide a nice target to start your draw from the box. You'll need another big
play with a fairway metal to set up a nice approach, as you're usually into
the breeze from the lake in the distance. A short iron should remain to a very
deceiving green that falls off hard on all sides, making up-and-downs quite
difficult. FYI. Avoid the right, greenside bunker at all costs. This could
prove hazardous to your round.
After a fairly short front nine, the inward holes begin with a strong par four
reaching 469 yards. Bending ever-so slightly to the right, the fairway is
quite generous and with the wind at your back, you might have just a mid-iron
for your approach. Right-center fairway sets up the best angle to green that
slopes from right to left. Sand right and grass hollows left are not the
easiest spots for up and downs. A par here goes a long way.
The first of four consecutive water holes, the 11th is by no means a pushover
just because of its par-five status. Trees border both sides, but the real
treachery is the water down the entire left side. Fernan Creek which sneaks in
and out of the trees, crosses in front of the putting surface, making going
for this green in two quite risky. Not only that, the wind off the lake is
usually quite fresh into your face. With just one bunker to contend with at
the end of the fairway, the smart play is to layup to a confident yardage and
go at the pin. Pin placement certainly has to be brought into the equation, as
the green features three tiers and is very undulating. Three over in two days
was not the way I wanted to remember this hole.
Think about this? The par-four 17th hole is just 269 yards from the tips,
while the 12th is a par three of 249 yards! With the creek winding around the
back as it leads towards the lake, the green stands out like a finger in the
middle of danger. Not only do you need to be long, you must negotiate the
right to left wind and the long green that rises in the rear. When Billy
Casper won the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, he purposely laid up short on the
par-three third hole and made par each day. That is the play here. Rely on
your short game and you'll be fine.
Target golf defines the next two holes at Coeur d'Alene. The short par-four
13th is situated alongside the lake and requires two pinpoint shots. First
off, a drive of 255 yards will leave just a wedge to a fairly wide green.
Easier said then done, as the wind blows hard off the water and any shot right
of the cart path down the right side is OB. The smart play is a fairway metal
off the tee, leaving a short iron to a well-protected putting surface. Plenty
of sand surrounds the green, however the front is wide open, so go for it. Who
knows, maybe you'll make birdie. During the 1992 Merrill Lynch Shootout won by
Chip Beck, local lore states that Fuzzy Zoeller actually drove the green.
That brings us to one of the most famous holes in golf. For you golfers on the
east coast, it's not the 17th at Sawgrass, it's the amazing 14th at Coeur
d'Alene. The signature "floating green," is one of the most beautiful and
treacherous holes in golf. Ranging anywhere between 95 and 220 yards, the 14th
green is moved daily by computers to adjust distances from each tee. That's
right! The two-tiered green is 15,000 square feet and is built upon a mobile
pontoon structure, weighing 4.6 million pounds. Unique is the understatement
of the year. You'll need a long iron from the tips, especially when the wind
is up. Then it's a boat ride on the vessel, "putter" for your chance at par.
Maybe you'll be fortunate enough to receive a special certificate after your
success on the green. I did.
Playing downwind, the par-five 15th is certainly reachable in two. They key is
avoiding the humungous fairway bunker down the left side and staying clear of
the trees on the right. You'll have to cut a fairway metal or long iron into
the long undulating green to have any shot at eagle, but birdies are a
definite possibility. The putting surface features a ridge in the center that
runs from front to back with deep bunkers on either side. Any ball slightly
off line will positively roll into the sand. If I can make a pair of birdies
on this hole, so can you.
The 16th is a dogleg left, medium-sized par four that requires a draw off the
tee. A good aiming point are the fairway bunkers, some 300 yards from the
tips. A quartet of bunkers loom short of the green, which gives the appearance
that the putting surface is closer than it seems. Don't be fooled. Trust your
caddie and the yardage and you'll get home in regulation. The green sits in a
bowl of sorts, engulfed on three sides by tall pines, so wind should not be a
There are a couple of ways to skin the 17th and both require plenty of
thought. At just 269 yards, you can either layup short and make birdie the old
fashioned way, or go for the big tee shot and try and get home. Option one is
the sensible play. The fairway is as tight as it gets with tall pines on
either side, so a long iron down the right side will leave 50-60 yards to the
narrow putting surface. The second choice is to take driver, play a high draw
and take your chances. Any shot left of the green will most likely end up in
the greenside bunker, that's next to impossible to get up and down from. Let's
put it this way, you won't be able to see the top of the flagstick from the
bottom of the trap. Sometimes the "easiest" of holes prove to be the hardest.
If it's brawn that you want, the 18th packs plenty of punch. Playing directly
into a headwind, this 482-yard par four reacts like a manageable par five.
From the gold tees you'll have to bust a drive to clear bunkers on the right,
while avoiding the traps on the left. Bending slightly to the left, a long
iron or fairway metal will be needed to reach another long, slick green. Sand
guards the right side of the putting surface. A great finishing hole to
complete a marvelous round of golf.
FINAL WORD: I've never been to Augusta National or Muirfield Village, but
you'll be hard-pressed to find another course in this country in better
condition than Coeur d'Alene. The story goes that when current superintendent
Kevin Hicks was brought in, Mr. Hagadone asked him about the maintenance
machinery. Hicks responded that the equipment was in superior condition, but
he enjoyed working with a different brand. When asked if this new equipment
would improve the golf course, Hicks responded with a resounding "yes." That
was all Mr. Hagadone needed.
Never one to rest on his or the resort's laurels, Mr. Hagadone is all about
making his resort the most enjoyable and spectacular place to visit.
It all starts with a 10-minute, water taxi ride from the resort to the course,
where your personal, uniformed forecaddie is waiting for you. The custom golf
cart is fully equipped with heated seats, wood-grain, tilt steering wheel,
closed compartments for valuables and liquid libations and even a cubbyhole
for trash. Top that off with a tinted windshield, 13-inch chrome alloy wheels
and fully carpeted floors. You'll feel like you're riding in a Mercedes.
The practice facility is as manicured as is the golf course, as you warm-up by
hitting balls into the lake. Your forecaddie is very knowledgeable about the
history and the yardages of the course. Just ask for Eddie - he'll be the guy
running down the fairway of each and every hole, giving you exact laser
yardages to the pin and what you need to carry each and every bunker. By the
way, if you want a massage prior to going out, a therapist is available at the
driving range for complimentary treatments.
The golf course is exquisitely maintained. Believe me when I tell you, there
is not a blade of grass out of place. The Kentucky Bluegrass rough is very
consistent and can be quite gnarly. Even the seed mix to fill the divots is
specially colored to make it essentially invisible. Sand trap rakes are hidden
in special in-ground tubes near each bunker. I also need to mention the two
restrooms on the course. So concealed to the visitor, unless told where they
are, you'd never find them, as they are built underground at the seventh
and 10th tees. The aesthetic beauty of the natural wildflowers, beds of
luscious red geraniums and hundreds of Ponderosa Pines, make Coeur d'Alene
With five sets of tees, ranging from 4,448 to over 6,800 yards, Coeur d'Alene
is for all levels of play. Some might think that under 7,000 yards is a
pushover. I'm here to say, don't be misled. CDA plays as long as many of those
so-called bombers' paradise venues, especially when the wind is blowing off
the lake. So if it's a challenge you're seeking, this is the place.
Over the past several years, numerous changes have been made to the course,
such as new tee boxes on the fourth and 12th holes or adding several bunkers
on the seventh, 10th and 15th holes. With the subtle refinements, the course
statistics need to be adjusted, as the rating is only 71.1 with a slope of
119. Both figures should be higher.
The enormous golf shop features an extensive selection of men's and women's
apparel, equipment and accessories. The golf academy includes two and three-
day schools, led by Director of Golf Bob Nuttelman, who's been with Coeur
d'Alene since its inception.
When it's all said and done, it's the unforgettable, floating green that
you'll remember forever. However, you also won't soon forget the wonderful
hospitality of the staff or, of course, the amazing conditions and beauty of
one of the finest resort courses in the United States. Wake up east coast,
you're missing the "boat."