Date Played: October 19th, 2012

The Cowlitz County Golf Tour continues, this time at Three Rivers Golf Course in Kelso.  Kelso is my go to pit stop on my slog from Seattle to Portland, so after playing Mint Valley, I decided to give Three Rivers a whirl.

Three Rivers, on its website boasts that it’s the driest course around.  It was built just three years after the eruption of the eerily close Mount Saint Helens volcano on a bed of silt and sand left over from the eruption.  The course got upwards of an inch and a half of rain the preceding 5 days, and when I played, it was in British Open conditions.  They’re not telling tall tales here, the course was as dry as most Seattle courses during the summer and they only have cart paths on the tee boxes and greens to prove it.  That’s right, even in the dead of winter, you drive your cart right along the fairways…and I’d bet it holds up nice all year.

TRGC was designed by Robert Muir Graves.  Graves has designed some great NW golf courses such as Avalon in Burlington, Canterwood in Gig Harbor and Palouse Ridge in Pullman.  This course is quite a departure from what I know Graves courses to be.  This course feels classic.  It feels like H. Chandler Egan was controlling his hand when he designed this gem; it’s like a public version of Riviera.  The best hole on this course, and one that will definitely bring me back, was the par 4 7th.  It’s a short dogleg right that requires a well placed tee shot of about 200 yards.  The approach requires you to go what feels like 45 degrees uphill into a two tiered green that you have to hit on the right level.  If you miss, you’ve all but assured yourself a two putt (or far worse).

The course drains great, but it’s also well maintained.  The fairways were tight, the rough was cut cleanly and the bunkers were all still manageable despite awful conditions.  The greens were a little soft, but they rolled true even though they had already been punched and had very few pitch marks.  I did notice a little bit of fungus looking spots on two of the greens, but it was in the corners and didn’t seem like a big problem.  The driving range is natural grass or mats depending on the weather and is pretty average in nature.  99 balls for $7.50 is one hell of a deal though, so be sure to get a bucket.

The only bad thing I have to say about this place was that the practice greens are tiny and in awful shape.  That’s it, the practice greens aren’t very good.  The course itself is about 5 minutes off the freeway, albeit far from the population centers.  I would recommend this course for a day trip, especially over the winter months.  There is a coupon for $20 walking greens fees anytime, but the regular rate is more than manageable at $31.  It’s dry, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had golfing in rainy, windy conditions.  This is what this website is all about, finding gems like this place to share with the golfing community.  Final Score: 50/60

Design – 9/10
Test of Golf – 7/10
Condition – 9/10
Amenities – 7/10
Value – 10/10
Experience – 9/10

P.S. Check out the membership rates ($1300 unlimited for 1 year) or the winter pass for $350.  Stellar deal.