Date Played August 27th
Portland is an area blessed with some great golf. From the upscale to the down and dirty, I don’t think I’ve played a bad course yet. On my bi-monthly trek down south, I find myself debating the courses I’ll take in. The Portland Municipal Collection (Heron Lakes, Eastmoreland and Rose City) was towards the bottom of my list. I like muni courses, but with the wealth of great places to play, I found myself putting them on the back-burner. That is until I ended up at hotels in North Portland, and i realized just how metro the courses really are.
I already have a review for Heron Lakes, but it should be noted that it is minutes off the freeway and next door to the Expo Center and International Raceway. Rose City however is planted smack dab in heart of Portland in between all three major freeways (I-5, I-205 and I-84). It’s styling and location remind me a lot of Jackson Park in Seattle.
When you find your way to the pro-shop, you enter a rickety looking brick building. I paid the grumpy old manager my $31 greens fee (not bad at all for a Monday mid-day) and made my way next door to the restaurant. I had about 45 minutes before I was due to tee off, so I ordered some french toast which was made to order, delicious and only $4. The putting green is large and mostly flat with a chipping area confined to the north edge. There is no driving range, per se, but there is a BYO balls hitting area with no yardage marked. The placement, however, was notably terrible as I lost my ball in the sea of practice balls along the left edge of the 4th hole. It should be noted that I duck hooked my drive directly into the landing area for this range, but still, it wasn’t like I skied a shot 2 fairways over.
The course is old; the 2nd oldest municipal in Portland I’m told. It was opened in 1936, which puts it in that class with West Seattle, Jefferson Park and Walter Hall in Everett of courses which don’t really have great golf, but offer a ton of character. I walked this round and the first four holes are quite a doozy. The par 4 2nd hole plays from an elevated tee to a three-tiered fairway(!) with a bunker to snatch shots and a big for the course green. The par 4 fourth hole is a straight away uphill hole with a tree in the middle of the fairway and a hidden bunker guarding the left side of the green. Drive up the right side and you’ve got an easy par, go left (in to the “driving range”) and you’re lucky to escape with a 5.
Other cool holes are the are the 344 yard par 4 14th hole which requires a 200 yard shot down the middle and features a 90 degree dogleg to a super elevated green that putts like an old wooden labyrinth game and will deposit your ball in a pond if you so much as think about putting firmly. The 17th is 421 yard par 4 that will play shorter if you fade your drive into the hill which slopes right to left. If you hang one out there and let the hill do the work, you can leave yourself a very manageable shot into a green with some seemingly subtle undulation that might leave you smashing your putter on the ground (hopefully somewhere off the green). Overall the greens are above average, with some burn marks and ball-marks, the fairways are firm and the rough is relatively short.
Typically, with the density of good to great courses in the Portland Metro area, I’d tell you to brush off the “meh” tracks like Rose City. But for $31 and with the heart of the city location, you could certainly do worse. Final Score: 41/60
Design – 7/10
Test of Golf – 8/10
Condition – 7/10
Amenities – 5/10
Value – 8/10
Experience – 6/10