Golf in Northern California

Circling Raven, a former <i>GOLF MAGAZINE</i> Top 10 You Can Play pick. <span class="picturesource">Courtesy of Circling Raven</span>

The postcard-pretty Idaho panhandle is prime golf territory, with miles of sparkling lakes set against the evergreen Selkirk, Cabinet, Coeur d'Alene and Bitterroot Mountains. The 25-mile-long Lake Coeur d'Alene is the star of its famous namesake course, but there are plenty of hidden golfing gems in the Gem State.

The Golf

Indian Canyon Golf Course

    [LIST "6,255 yards, par 72; Greens fees: $51-$53, cart included"]
    [LIST "509-747-5353; {C}{C}"]

It's less than five minutes from the Spokane airport to this hilly track where Ben Hogan made one of his few aces at the short fourth. Try the Canyon Burger in the clubhouse, but don't expect to finish it. This belly buster is piled high with ham, bacon, cheese, lettuce and onion, and ought to be served with a Surgeon General's warning.

Circling Raven Golf Club


    [LIST "6,578 yards, par 72; Greens fees: $69-$79 (includes cart)"]
    [LIST "800-523-2464; {C}{C}"]
This 2003 Gene Bates design winds through wetlands and around railroad tracks, and sports a sparkling back nine. The par-3 13th is Circling Raven's nastiest; when the pin is tucked in the back right it measures a bruising 270 yards. Forget the ravens — vultures could circle this killer hole.

The Coeur d'Alene


    [LIST "6,320 yards, par 71; Greens fee: $225 ($200 for resort guests)"]
    [LIST "800-688-5253; {C}{C}"]
Water views abound, and so does the pampering. Players are ferried from the hotel to the course via mahogany water taxi and massaged on the practice tee. A water taxi also shuttles players to and from the famous floating 14th green. Bunker rakes pop magically out of the ground; restrooms, too, are underground. The design has some hiccups — the 307-yard fourth hole, is followed by two par 3s, but it is white-glove golf at its finest.

Hidden Lakes Golf Resort


    [LIST "6,923 yards, par 71; Greens fee: $61"]
    [LIST "888-806-6673; {C}{C}"]

Moose sightings are common, and the eponymous lakes are easy to find, too, with water in play on 16 holes. A non-aqua challenge is found at the 18th, where golfers are forced to shape their tee shots around a lone pine.

Esmeralda Golf Course

    [LIST "6,249 yards, par 70; Greens fee: $23-$27"]
    [LIST "509-487-6291; {C}{C}"]

"Easy Essy" opened in 1956 and hosted the country's first Senior Open in 1957. With its big greens and tall trees, it's a pleasant place to kill time before putting your clubs back in the travel cover.

{C} Where to Eat

Beverly's restaurant at the Coeur d'Alene hotel serves a terrific orange roll--a sweet, unique dinner roll wih a Krispy Kreme yum-factor. Or venture downtown to Moon Time on Sherman Avenue. Ask for the salmon cakes, which don't appear on the eclectic menu.

Sandpoint has been named one of the top 10 small towns in America: Try Ivano's, renowned for its pasta dishes and wine list.

Where to stay

Hit your dates right at Coeur d'Alene Casino Hotel and you might see a big-name act or a title fight. Packages range from $179 to $219 a night based on double-occupancy.

Views, amenities and convenience make the 18-floor, waterfront Coeur d'Alene Casino Hotel worth considering for your HQ. Rooms start at $99 and go as high as $449 for the 180-degree postcard-view suite. Packages, including two rounds and accommodations, start at $318.

Local Knowledge

Kokanee isn't just the name of a local brew; it's a kind of salmon in Lake Coeur d'Alene. See Jeff Smith at Fins & Feathers tackle shop and guide service.; 208-667-9304.

The Moyie River is the best whitewater rafting spot you've never heard of. Book a day trip with River Odysseys West. Cost $84.{C}{C}; 800-451-6034.

Fifteen miles north of Coeur d'Alene on U.S. Route 95, Silverwood theme park features two wooden roller coasters plus a double-corkscrew gut check billed as the nation's first upside-down ride. $30. {C}{C}; 208-683-3400.

The Deal

Circling Raven and Coeur d'Alene are playing "Let's Make a Deal" with a golf package starting at $214 per person, double-occupancy. The package, which includes rounds at both courses and a night's lodging at the Coeur d'Alene Resort, offers savings of up to $305 over typical prices. 800-688-5253.

More From the Web