Eastern Washington fall golf: Best time to play golf

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Updated: September 1, 2021

As you make your way over Snoqualmie Pass and head toward Central and Eastern Washington in the fall months, enjoy the drive and take in the changing fall colors of the trees to perhaps a glimpse of snow along the pass. Here are a few popular courses you might want to play east of the mountains:

Combine Palouse Ridge with Cougar football 

Fall in Eastern Washington is a favorite time for students and alumni of Washington State University to watch Cougar football at Martin Stadium. And, it couldn’t be a better time to get in some quality golf at Palouse Ridge at the same time. 

When the Palouse Ridge course opened in 2008 it was ranked the No. 2 Best New Public Course in the country by Golf Digest and the 7,308-yard layout has been ranked the No. 2 college golf course by LINKS Magazine and is ranked No. 5 course in the state by GolfWeek magazine. It is certainly on every bucket list of every serious golfer in the Northwest. It has hosted a long list of men’s and women’s PAC-12 Championships, NCAA regionals and numerous PNGA tournaments. 

Palouse Ridge has proved it can stand up to the some of the best amateur players in the game.

Early in his career, John Harbottle traveled to the British Isles to study the great courses of Scotland and Ireland. He was inspired by the natural links courses and the way they were formed without the appearance of disturbing Mother Nature. He wanted to create a natural looking course with a links touch and his knowledge of links-style golf and construction enabled him to transform 315 acres of rolling Palouse Hills into an environmentally sensitive masterpiece. 

Sadly, John Harbottle passed away in 2012 while he was working on a course in California. Wanting to preserve his memory, the University has named the 15th hole the Harbottle Hole, a signature hole that is a drivable par 4 and John Harbottle’s favorite hole. The short hole can play decidedly different when the wind blows and at only 350 yards it becomes reachable by long hitters when down wind.

• Wine Valley Golf Club

Walla Walla is becoming a wine and golf shot spot.  The once-sleepy hamlet in the southeastern corner of the state has become one of the premier wine destinations in the United States. But if you were looking to pair fine public-access golf with wine touring and tasting, the pickings were slim.  The uncorking of Wine Valley Golf Club a few years ago changed all that – for the area and for the Pacific Northwest. Ranked as one of the top courses in Washington by Golfweek, Wine Valley has been added to the must-play list for golf enthusiasts. It is also 84th on the list of top Modern Courses.

Wine Valley Golf Club, designed by Oregon native Dan Hixson, blends immense scale, inspiring scenery and strategic challenges into a championship golf experience. The course has hosted the Northwest Open and the PNGA Men’s Amateur.

• Apple Tree

Apple Tree in Yakima is one of the Northwest’s premier golf experiences and given a 4-Star rating by Golf Digest. 

The signature par-3 17th hole with its apple-shaped island green is one of the state’s most recognizable holes. The hole is a masterpiece of golf architecture that measures over 10,000 square feet with nine different tee boxes to choose from.

The 17th hole is only one of many great holes at Apple Tree Resort. The course winds through 100-year old apple orchards with some stunning water hazards and challenging elevation changes. The course and greens are always in perfect condition.

• Lake Chelan

Ever since it was built in 1970, Lake Chelan Golf Course has always been a popular spot for golfers visiting the area.  Located on the lake’s north side, Lake Chelan is a solid par-72 golf course that sits on a bluff with unparalleled views of the lake that will stay in your memory. 

The course has three sets of tees and plays to 6,445 yards from the blue tees with a slope of 124. The reviews by visitors to Lake Chelan all talk about the fantastic views and the great condition of the course.  If you are planning a trip to the Wenatchee/Chelan area you will want to put Lake Chelan Golf Course on your itinerary.

• Columbia Point

Located in Richland, Columbia Point Golf Course is a daily fee facility adjacent to the Columbia River. The course is owned by the City of Richland and measures 6,571 yards from the back tees. It celebrated its 20th year in 2017.   

Nothing too complicated greets the average golfer but the course does have water hazards and numerous bunkers that will need to be avoided.  

• Canyon Lakes

Canyon Lakes has won a variety of awards, including voted as Best Golf Course by the People‘s Choice Awards (six years in a row) making it the most popular course in the Tri Cities area.  Rated 4 1/2 Stars by Golf Digest, making it the highest rated course in the Tri-Cities and shares the highest ranking in Washington State.  In addition to the lofty rating, Northwest Travel Magazine selected Canyon Lakes as one of “18 of the Best in the Pacific Northwest.” 

Canyon Lakes is famous for large, fast, undulating greens with the 12th hole touted as the largest green in the Pacific Northwest at 12,000 square feet. The ninth hole was also awarded as one of the Northwest’s Dream 18 holes. With five sets of tees measuring from 5,500 to 7,027 yards, Canyon Lakes will test the mettle of all types of golfers. 

• Highlander Golf Club

At 800 feet above the Columbia River is a breathtaking piece of property that boasts a masterpiece designed by John Steidel and built by Jim Haley (Haley created and shaped Bandon Dunes). This one is called Highlander and it lives up to the name with magnificent panoramic views. The most talked about hole is the par-3 ninth, a 185-yard bear that requires a tee shot across a canyon.  

• Links at Moses Pointe

Located just four miles north of interstate 90 in Moses Lake, Wash., has been a favorite destination for golfers since opening in 1999 Having played host to the 2005 and 2008 Washington State Amateur Championship as well as the 2011 Pacific Northwest Public Links, Moses Pointe will test the games best players.  With great golf, 300 plus days of sunshine, and a growing residential golf community, Moses Pointe is sure to become your next home away from home, or who knows, maybe your next home? 

• Gamble Sands

 There is plenty to like at Gamble Sands, the award winning course in Brewster, Wash. From the championship course to the 37-room Inn at Gamble Sands to the Cascade Putting Course, there is plenty to do. The course sits above the Columbia River and the David McLay-Kidd layout is ranked among the best in the country and the Pacific Northwest. 

A new 14-hole golf course called Quick Sands opened up and will play differently every day with different routing with yardages on all 14 holes. A putting course sits next to the villas.

• Kahler Glen

Kahler Glen Golf Resort is a year round recreation jewel with cross-county skiing, snowshoeing or ice-skating in winter, golf, tennis & pickle ball, and a great place for other activities like hiking, zip-lining, horseback riding and wine tasting. If you are a golfer, then the Leavenworth resort (located at Lake Wenatchee) has 18 terrific holes to challenge you. If you are a skier, then there are miles of cross country trails and nearby Stevens Pass for some downhill action.

• Sun Lakes Resort

Sun Lakes Resort in Coulee City, Wash. is a busy place with plenty of recreation option plus access to Vic Meyers Golf Course. Sun Lakes Resort with its myriad of outdoor activities plus with the terrific weather – and into fall, it’s a busy place so get those reservations early for the cabins and RV spaces. There are several boating, fishing, hiking and sight-seeing opportunities.