Idaho’s Panhandle

Updated: March 3, 2010

Idaho’s Panhandle is becoming home to more than just great scenery and outdoor experiences – the area is also the home to some of the state’s best golf courses.

Just a short drive east of Spokane, sits a variety of golf courses that will test your golf game and provide you with several different styles of courses.

From the semiprivate Avondale Golf Club to the public Coeur d’Alene Golf Club, you have choices to make.

• Avondale: The course opened in 1968 with nine holes. It is semiprivate and still open for public play. Seven years ago, the course underwent a $2 million remodel project and was actually closed for nearly a year.

• Circling Raven: The newest course in the area opened five years ago in Worley, Idaho – about a half-hour south of Coeur d’Alene. The course is owned by the Coeur d’Alene Indian Tribe and was part of a $30 million expansion project by the tribe that includes new hotel rooms and more. The course plays to 7,189 yards from the tips and is spread out over 400 acres. Adjacent to the course is the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel.

• Coeur d’Alene Golf Club: Long before the resort came along, the Coeur d’Alene Golf Club was a fixture on the landscape. The course opened in 1957 and is popular with the locals. Not a bad place for the visitors, too.

• Coeur d’Alene Resort: World-famous resort opened for play in 1991 and has been ranked among the top resorts in the world. Course is known for many things, but two things continually stand out: The condition of the course and the Floating Green. The condition of the course is considered among the best in the country, and the Floating Green is always an attraction.

The par-3 green can be floated anywhere from 100 to 185 yards from land and golfers ride a boat to the green. A major re-modeling project added length to the course a few years ago. While the Floating Green gets most of the attention, there are several other outstanding holes at this resort course.

• The Idaho Club: The resort, formerly called Hidden Lakes, located in Sandpoint, underwent some dramatic changes four years ago when Jack Nicklaus was hired to do a redesign. The new course was opened in September of 2007 to rave reviews.

The centerpiece of the course was its log-style clubhouse which unfortunately burned to the ground in December of 2008. Plans are in the works to rebuild the structure.

The course winds through the forested hills near Lake Pend Oreille with some outstanding water hazards and very tight holes.

• Highlands: Course opened for play 18 years ago. Features some good views and a 16th hole, which must be seen. The 16th hole is a 322-yard par-4, which is the signature hole of the course. The fairway is lined with trees and rises to a ridge. At the top of the ridge you can see all kinds of trouble on the way to the green, things like bunkers, water, mounds and trees. The course removed the country club part of its name to avoid confusion a few years ago.

• StoneRidge: When the owners of StoneRidge Golf Course, located about a half-hour from Coeur d’Alene in the town of Blanchard, decided to make some changes to the golf course, they didn’t want a quick fix. Instead, they shut down the golf course for more than a year to come up with the kind of changes they wanted. Nine re-opened five years ago and the second nine shortly after.

There are new tee boxes, new greens, new sand traps, new ponds, new cart paths . . . just about everything is new. The $3 million project gave the course the kind of face-lift the owners, Bridge Partners, hoped for. And the golfers in the NW have liked what they have seen.

• Priest Lake: Course located on the upper Idaho Panhandle has a new look after opening a new nine in 2002 and re-doing the original nine in 2004. The entire course is now re-opened. Outdoor enthusiasts will like the place even more since it sits near Priest Lake, complete with all of the water sports you would expect.

• Twin Lakes: Course is located in a residential community in Rathdrum, Idaho, about an hour’s drive from Spokane. It plays to 6,277 yards with a completely different look on the front and back nines. The club is semiprivate, as homeowners own the course. It is open to the public and green fees are $31 weekdays and weekends.