Gamble Sands, the latest work from Bandon Dunes designer David McLay Kidd, opens for play this August. The new track is a huge sand plateau in the north central Washington town of Brewster that overlooks the Columbia River and the snowcapped northern Cascades.
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Most engaging is the boldly bunkered, 301-yard, par-4 2nd, which begins with jaw-dropping vistas of the river, then careens to the left like the third turn at Talladega. Thanks to the crispy, links-like turf, you can reach the green with less than a driver, but your choices are so numerous that half the fun is the selection process.
3 of 10Larry Lambrecht
The course harkens back to both Kidd's Scottish roots and his breakthrough design at Bandon Dunes. It's pure golf. No homes, roads, cart paths or trees -- just acres of wide, firm fairways that lead to gigantic, equally firm green, like this one at the 5th.
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The course was built on land owned by the Gebbers family, one of the nation's largest producers of apples and cherries.
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The par-4 5th hole plays a monster 517 yards from the tips. Gamble Sands offers four sets of tees to suit a variety of handicap levels. It's 7,169 yards from the championship tees, 6,684 yards from the back, 6,207 yards from the regular, 5,631 yards from the intermediate and 4,797 yards from the forward tees.
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At three and a half hours east of Seattle and two and a half hours west of Spokane, Gamble Sands is not on anyone's beaten path, but for a unique walking experience and an unforgettable golf romp through the high desert, it's is worth the detour.
7 of 10Larry Lambrecht
There is plenty of trouble left of the green on the par-3 6th hole. Greens fees at the course range from $85-$150. Caddies and forecaddies are available.
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"The mission we gave ourselves was to build a golf course that was just as playable as Bandon Dunes," McLay Kidd says at dmkgolfdesign.com. "We wanted good golfers to stand on the tee with confidence and see opportunity, all the while ensuring the average player never lost a ball. The fairways are huge, and the views are even bigger."
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The par-3 16th is 225 yards from the back tee. The par-72 course is rated a 74.2 from the tips with a slope of 128.
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The finishing hole is a 566-yard par 5 that winds to a conclusion near the Gamble Sands clubhouse where you can grab a slice of Gebbers Country Apple Pie at the Danny Boy Bar & Grill.
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