Golf in the Inland Empire

Updated: August 5, 2012

The Spokane area is indeed a golfing extravaganza
Eastern Washington and the Idaho Panhandle have always been known for great golf – from public to private to resort. With courses like Indian Canyon in Spokane (left), Circling Raven in Worley, Idaho (lower left) and Deer Park (lower right) the area boasts a variety great courses to try.

One advantage of Spokane is its close proximity to Northern Idaho and even a few Montana courses. The drives are often as picturesque as the courses you’ll play.

To play all of the courses within driving distance of Spokane will take a couple of weeks of full-time playing, so if you are planning a limited trip for a weekend or so, be sure to look into your options.

Golfers from around the Northwest have long known about the high quality of golf in and around Spokane. Not only are the courses superb but the prices are also below any of the other metropolitan areas in the northwest region of the country.

With the addition of courses like Circling Raven, StoneRidge and Priest Lake, the reputation is growing in national awareness in the Spokane area.
The City of Spokane owns four popular courses in Indian Canyon, The Creek at Qualchan, Downriver and Esmeralda. They are all popular and for less than $30, all are affordable. Any place else, those courses would be over $50 or even higher in some cases.

Spokane County, the other municipal course owner, has Hangman Valley, MeadowWood and Liberty Lake, that are excellent courses that can be played for under $35. Liberty Lake underwent a year and a half re-model and looks new after the re-designed front nine and the addition of new tees, greens, bunkers and a new irrigation system.

Here’s a quick look at the Spokane courses and what you face when you tee it up in the Inland Empire:

• Indian Canyon: At 6,255 yards might appear, on paper at least, to be an easy course, but with tight fairways, major elevation changes and bunker-guarded greens, it’s anything but easy. Indian Canyon continues to be one of the top courses in the Northwest.

• The Creek at Qualchan: This course gets your attention right out of the gate with it’s elevation changes, tight dog-legs and greens that can be protected by water, numerous bunkers are sculpted into the sides of steep hills.

• Esmeralda: A popular course for the locals, it plays to 6,250 yards. Over 65,000 rounds are played each year at the course they call “Essie.”

• Downriver: One of the most popular in-town courses. Downriver’s fairways are dwarfed by century-old pine trees that makes playing amongst them seem almost surreal.

• Hangman Valley: Course got its name from the infamous 1858 Battle of Steptoe when U.S. Soldiers captured Native Americans and hanged 13 chiefs. The course opened in 1969 and features some great par-5 holes. Like so many of the other courses in the area, elevation changes and tall trees play a significant part in this challenging course.

• MeadowWood: Designed by the legendary golf architect Robert Muir Graves, who made his mark in golf course design by producing difficult, but fair, courses. This is one of the top challenges in the area and was awarded four stars by Golf Digest magazine. It sits across the street from Liberty Lake Golf Course.

• Liberty Lake: The course received a face-lift a few years ago but recently underwent a major rebuild. The course was closed for more than a year and a major redesign produced a different look for the course, including new ponds, bunkers, tees and more.
A new set of tees was added to virtually every hole and new trees were brought in. Fescue was planted on the front side. A new irrigation system was also added and will keep the course in terrific shape year round.

• Wandermere: The course opened the first 9 holes in 1931 and boasts one of the largest memberships in the region. While the overall design is dated some holes have been updated.

• Sundance: Located away from the downtown Spokane area, Sundance is a perfect place for beginners. It measures 5,900 yards and presents a flat terrain.

• Fairways at West Terrace: Located in Cheney, winds are usually the biggest challenge at this course, which measures 6,390 yards. A goal post is located in the middle of the driving range, providing an interesting target when practicing your shots at the driving range.

• Trail Head at Liberty Lake: Executive-length golf course near MeadowWood and Liberty Lake golf course. A relatively flat course, it measures just over 2,000 yards with multiple tees.

• Painted Hills: Bought by the McElhinny family in 2006, the Painted Hills Golf Course was built in 1989 originally as a nine-hole championship golf course. Since then Chester Creek Par 3 has been added to the property.

• Pineacres: One of the most popular places for golfers in the Spokane area to practice. The course is short, at 970 yards and is a par 27.

• Manito Country Club: Manito is one of the oldest courses in the Pacific Northwest, having opened for play in 1917. The course has hosted some of the biggest events in the Northwest and hosted the 1945 PGA Championship.

• Spokane Country Club: Opened in 1911, the course is the third oldest in the Pacific Northwest after Tacoma Country and Golf Club and Waverly Country Club. Course hosted the first-ever U.S. Women’s Open in 1946.

• Chewelah, sits an hour north of Spokane and opened a third nine holes in 2004. Spokane architect Keith Hellstrom designed the first 18 holes while the new nine was penned by Jim Kraus. A new clubhouse was built and opened in 2002. Not bad for a town which has just 2,000 residents and needed volunteer labor and materials to get the original nine holes opened more than 25 years ago. The course was owned by the U.S. Department of Natural Resources before being sold to club members in 1995.

There are plenty of challenges with the tree-lined fairways, the elevation changes and the deceptively tough greens. The course has made some changes in the past few years that have proven to be popular with golfers. The right side of the 10th hole, a par-4, has been cleared out of trees and brush allowing the fairway to be widened from 20 yards to 60 yards. Some tee boxes have been leveled, especially some ladies tee boxes.

• Deer Park is one of the newest courses in the area, having opened in 1996. Located less than a half-hour north of Spokane, Deer Park features a first-class RV park next the golf course. The course plays to nearly 6,700 yards and with the relatively flat terrain, golfers enjoy the option to walk. The course was designed by Hellstrom, who made sure that sand and water came into play. The RV resort has been upgraded and director of golf Craig Schuh says that many people enjoy the chance to park their RV and enjoy the golf course and restaurant. After the city bought the course at an auction in 2004, Schuh was able to secure the management contract and is now in charge of the facility.

• Dominion Meadows used to be called the Colville Elks Golf Course and opened in 1950. It became an 18-hole layout in July of 2002.
The old nine plays through trees while the new nine offers a more links-style setting. The course plays to 6,743 yards from the back tees and offers plenty of forced carries over wetlands and ponds. The course is owned and operated by the Elks Club.

PDF of Map for Spokane/N. Idaho