Date Played: May 12, 2012
Being a North-ender, it’s hard to get me to golf courses south of Seattle. I happened to be spending a weekend in Montesano and had a free Saturday. So I stumbled across Salish Cliffs when googling courses nearby, and I’m ashamed to admit I never even knew that there was a new course in the state other than Rope Rider (the new Suncadia public course). The photos looked impressive and the early reviews were very favorable, so I made the trek to Shelton and gave Salish Cliffs a whirl.
Salish Cliffs is tucked away behind the Little Creek Resort Casino. It’s kind of a pain to get to, and to be honest, I was a little bit jaded before I ever drove onto the property. My worries eased up as soon as I approached the clubhouse. It’s a nice new building with a gleaming driving range and a giant double green surrounding. I plopped down my $85 greens fee and was surprised to find that power carts are not only included, but required. I was pointed to my cart and informed the range balls were included as well. As I drove upon the range, I was greeted with a pyramid of balls on a natural grass tee ground. The range was tremendous; better than any course range I’ve seen save White Horse.
As you make the long drive to the first tee, you start to understand why the cart is required. This course would suck the life out of you if you had to walk it. The first tee box overlooks an open and immaculate fairway with a mighty tree on the right edge. When you reach the tee box, the gravity of just how much care the club puts into your experience comes to light. A video fly-over of the hole with verbal instructions on strategy starts automatically on your GPS unit. At this point, I couldn’t stop smiling.
The greens here will become something of legend as this place gets more exposure. They roll amazingly true, like the slate of a pool table. I found myself walking extra soft so not to spoil the experience for the next group. As for the course, it’s creatively routed through a wooded valley with clever use of elevation and shot strategy. Most fairways open up in the landing areas, just enough to lure you into taking out the driver. As soon as you make a mistake, the rough is there to let you know you’ll be lucky to leave the green with a bogey.
My favorite holes were the par 4 9th and the par 4 16th. The 9th hole forces you to carry a straight tee shot over waste area, while the fairway necks down to eat up long drivers. A second shot in to a giant double green only a sadist could design, is protected by 4 large bunkers. The 16th is the quintessential “grip it and rip it” special. A big draw into the hill will feed the ball a ways but leave you with a very long second shot. If you choose to go at it, the fairway has a disgusting left to right slope to punish you.
Salish Cliffs, after one play, immediately slots in to my top 5 Washington courses. Having only been open 9 months at my date of play, it was super mature and is sure to only get better with time. This course is the perfect spot for a bachelor party, or just a guys weekend stay and play. There are some killer deals for this clientele, which bumps the value score a notch, since this is a pretty spendy course. So far it gets my highest score yet, and it will be tough to beat. Final Score: 55/60.
Design – 9/10
Test of Golf – 10/10
Condition – 10/10
Amenities – 9/10
Value – 7/10
Experience – 10/10