Tour Central Washington golf courses

Updated: June 29, 2010

With its terrific summer and fall weather and variety of golf courses, Central Washington is a nice drive from all of the major Northwest cities and will leave you feeling like you are in another part of the country.

The mountains, snaking rivers, pristine air, golden vistas and plenty of delicious wines, you can’t go wrong when heading to Central Washington. And the weather is almost always warm and sunny during the golfing season. Inside Golf Newspaper takes you on a whirlwind tour of the area this month.

Canyon Lakes: Reaching to the stars
Rated 4 1/2 Stars by Golf Digest and one of the top 10 best public courses in the Pacific Northwest, Canyon Lakes in Kennewick is not short on accolades. In addition to a 4-Star plus rating, Golf Digest gives Canyon Lakes a nod as one of the top 200 value golf courses in the United States. And if nothing else, the 12th hole ranks as the largest putting surface in the Pacific Northwest at 12,000 square feet! If you can putt well, you most likely will score well at Canyon Lakes, but the greens are tough and quick.

With five sets of tees measuring from 5,500 to 7,027 yards, Canyon Lakes will test the mettle of all types of golfers.

Don’t miss Canyon Lakes. It received all those rankings for a reason. Also featuring a putting course adjacent to the driving range, Canyon Lakes provides yet another way for golfers to hone their skills. Canyon Lakes has added a 3,000 square foot Champions Room that is ideal for golf outings, weddings, company parties and special events.

Bear Mountain: Beautiful sight
Bear Mountain Ranch Golf Course is truly a beautiful sight for golfer’s eyes and will surely impress you with its lush grounds. There may not be a more aesthetically pleasing course in the Pacific Northwest.

Set among an incredible natural setting with golf course views that are equally as stunning as the course itself, Bear Mountain Ranch has been a wonderful addition to the Lake Chelan area since the golf course opened in 2005.

At over 7,230 yards from the back tees, Bear Mountain Ranch is a test for the low handicapper, but it also makes sure each and every golfer can find a proper teeing ground with four additional sets of tees. The course uses the natural terrain of carved plateaus and each hole features lake and mountain views. Located three hours from Seattle, Bear Mountain Ranch also features real estate opportunities for those looking to get away from the city as it is one of the largest family owned acreages in the state.

Highlander: You can see forever
At 800 feet above the Columbia River is a breathtaking piece of property that boasts a golf course designed by John Steidel and built by Jim Haley, who ended up painting his brush strokes on another Northwest gem, Bandon Dunes. This one is called Highlander and it lives up to the name. Laced with pot bunkers, and incredible views of the Columbia River, Highlander plays to over 6,500 from the back tees.

The most talked about hole is the par-3 ninth, a 185-yard bear that requires a tee shot over a canyon – and you’d better be able to land your ball softly. The green slopes dramatically making a two-putt no easy feat. And after you make the turn you can enjoy the gorgeous back nine that has sweeping views of the river.

With stay and play packages available in nearby Lake Chelan and Wenatchee, Highlander boasts opportunities for multiple days of golf.

Desert Canyon: Still great golf
Desert Canyon has undergone plenty of changes in the last year from being sold to other on-course adjustments. Despite the changes, the course continues to be one of the top layouts in the Pacific Northwest.

This 18-hole public facility delivers an experience unmatched in Central Washington. Spectacular desert terrain creates a course with desert style target golf. A premium is placed on shot accuracy and five sets of tees make Desert Canyon enjoyable for every level of golfer.

The course has received numerous accolades including being named the #1 resort course in the State of Washington, being ranked as the second best conditioned course in America by Golf Digest and was also a 2005 Golf Digest 4-Star.

The course is also home to the famous #6 canyon hole, which has been ranked as the 7th best par five in America by Golf Digest. Each hole is memorable and the greens are fast and firm. If you need to work on your putting Desert Canyon also boasts a fantastic putting course.

Columbia Point: Mounds of fun for all
Located in Richland, Columbia Point Golf Course is an upscale and daily fee facility built and managed by the City of Richland. Located on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains and adjacent to the Columbia River, the course measures 6,571 yards from the back tees.

Nothing too complicated greets the average golfer but the course does have water hazards and numerous bunkers that will need to be avoided. The most recognizable features are the mounds, rolling fairways and large undulating greens. Many of the greens are surrounded by mounds, which makes errant approach shots that much more penal. If your short game is MIA, you might want to put in some practice time on the range before you hit the course.

With a fully-stocked golf shop, cafe, covered patio and driving range complete with extra amenities, Columbia Point caters to every golfer from the car to first tee to post-round enjoyment.

Horn Rapids: True desert golf
Horn Rapids Golf Club, located outside of Richland opened in 1994 and plays true to Central Washington desert style golf. With multi part fairways that wind through sand and sage, Horn Rapids provides a brilliant contrast of color between desert and greens. Set against high desert mountains, the sloping, slick greens provide plenty of character and demand on your short game.

This par 72 layout is as long as it is challenging. The course plays 6,954 yards from the back tees and boasts a 73.6 rating with a slope of 130. There are also options for less experienced players as well as the forward tees represent just over 5,000 yards with a slope of 111.

If you have an RV, Horn Rapids RV Resort is just across the highway with 225 parking pads.

Lake Chelan: A popular stop
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 looking at the 55-mile long lake. The course has three sets of tees to choose from, giving golfers of different skill levels a chance to put a good number on the scorecard.

There are good holes on this course that provide a nice test for visiting golfers. The views from the course make the round even more enjoyable.

You can now book tee times online by clicking on

Moses Pointe: Long and dry
Moses Pointe has been a favorite course for golfers throughout the Pacific Northwest since opening in the summer of 1999. Mike Moore, father of PGA Tour star Ryan Moore, created a visually exciting and well thought out 18 holes of desert golf.

Stretching out to a robust 7,549 yards from the tips, Moses Pointe has the teeth to give the championship player a true test as it did hosting the 2005 and 2008 Washington State Amateur Championships. Most players will be comfortable with the 6,323 yardage from the white tees, which actually play a little shorter due to the firm fast conditions that desert golf provides.

A 2006-2007 bunker renovation and addition project put some nice final touches on an already terrific golf course, according to director of golf Bill Porter.

There are a lot of reasons why golfers love Moses Pointe: 300-plus days of sunshine, a spectacular golf course that’s challenging and enjoyable for golfers of all abilities, a professional and friendly staff, not to mention an award winning Steakhouse that will make your day enjoyable no matter how well you play.

Apple Tree: Signature green
Apple Tree in Yakima is a big and beautiful part of the Central Washington golf scene. The course, which opened in 1992, also features a signature hole that has been highly regarded as one of the best since that time. Having been featured in almost every golf publication and calendar, the 17th hole of Apple Tree is only one great hole at this 4-Star rated Golf Digest resort.

Playing to over 6,900 yards from the tips, Apple Tree is a tough golf test with challenging holes that will keep you interested and focused. Perhaps the hardest test comes early on the 461-yard, par-4 fourth that plays through a chute of orchards and over an expansive gully. As if the tee shot wasn’t enough to bruise your Fuji or Granny Smith, the green is elevated making the second shot just as difficult.

The 18th hole provides a classic decision making opportunity – measuring just over 500 yards from the tips, the tee shot offers a “finger” of fairway for the most daring players or a much larger safer landing area further to the right. The approach shot or lay-up for those less inclined has to negotiate four small ponds that lead up to the elevated green.

Suncadia: Resort-style golf
Located in Roslyn, just about an hour drive east of Seattle, is a more recent addition to the ever-expanding Central Washington golf destination landscape.

Suncadia Resort has two courses open, Prospector and the private Tumble Creek and another on the way in the fall of this year called Rope Rider, Prospector meanders through tall pines, with lakes and creeks dotting the landscape of the 18-hole layout.

Designed by the Palmer Design Company, Prospector’s signature hole is the 10th – a par-4 playing from 318 to over 411 yards.

Kahler Glen: Wilderness treat
Kahler Glen Golf Resort lives up to its name. If you are a golfer, then the Leavenworth resort 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.

Kahler Glen is a place that prides itself on offering something for everyone – in both the winter and summer. And if you happen to be a skier and a golfer, then you are double winner.

The resort was created in the late 1980s by a couple of logging families, trying to get the best use out of their logging lands in Central Washington. The original nine holes opened for play in 1989 and the second came along in 1995. The course might not be long (measuring 5,893 yards from the tips) but you better hit it straight. Most holes are surrounded by tall trees, giving you the perfect feel for Pacific Northwest golf.

There are some memorable holes to be found at Kahler Glen. The first hole, an uphill 320-yard par-4 grabs your attention early in the round. The 8th hole is a 450-yarder with a pond in front of the green as if the length isn’t enough of a problem. The 12th is a 625-yard par-5 which takes three shots to get home.

Lodging is never a problem at Kahler Glen with the condos and the townhomes. the condos can sleep up to six people.

Sun Willows: A local haunt
Sun Willows Golf Course is a Robert Muir Graves designed public 18-hole, par-72 course. Opened in 1963 but redesigned in 1980 by Northwest golf course architect John Steidel, the club features a pro-shop, driving range and restaurant.

A favorite of Tri-City golfers, it is a traditional and challenging Northwest style course with mature trees that line rolling fairways and large undulating greens. You can play the course from 6,715 yards at the tips or as short as 5,695 yards from the forward tees. There are 32 bunkers and five lakes that will keep you focused.

Buckskin: Good place to start
Buckskin Golf Club in Pasco is a nine-holer, designed and operated by Jeff Marcum. In fact, Marcum is so hands on you will find him doing just about anything at the course including mowing greens and working behind the counter. The course is a perfect way for beginners to learn, there is also a driving range.

West Richland: New clubhouse
Things are getting newer at West Richland, as a new clubhouse is in the work and will be open later this summer. In addition, the course is playable and fair – and especially popular with beginners because of the easy layout.