Date Played: March 7th 2013

If you’ve ever been to a golf show, you probably left with a free round to a garbage course that costs more to drive to than the voucher is worth.  The Portland Golf and Travel show dished out some of these, 5 in fact.  But the difference is that there were a couple of courses in there that are really pretty nice and expensive to get on at.

Camas Meadows is a course that I should have played a few times by now.  It’s located about 5 minutes away from my in-laws house just east of Vancouver, WA.  It’s nestled right smack dab in the weirdest place I’ve ever seen a golf course located.  The front 9 winds through a business park…yeah, like a Bill Lumberg, TPS report having office park.  The back 9 weaves through a neighborhood chock full of million dollar houses with Mercedes chock full of car-seats.  Despite this, there are some really cool features about the course, most notably is the pretty great design.

The course is short, 5700 and some change from the whites.  The course is also very hard, a 137 slope from those same short white tees.  It plays tight, but it also uses a lot of forced carry and clever bunkering to make it play longer than the yardage will tell you.  There are a lot of dogleg holes, a couple short par 4’s that will tease you, a couple short but guarded par 3’s and a couple 3 shot par 5’s.  Some of these overlap and some of these are just individually great holes.

The par 4 4th hole is a short par 4 that threatens with water left and right and requires an accurate tee shot.  If you put it in the fairway, you’re left shooting over a giant bunker to a wide but shallow green that is offset 90 degrees right at the end of the fairway.  The par 5 18th is a reachable, dogleg left par 5 that is very risk reward.  If you can slide your drive to cut the dogleg at about 250 yards, you’ll have less than 200 in to a green with water left and three bunkers all up front, so take a lot of club.

The driving range, putting greens and clubhouse are all top-notch, and the carts have a GPS system where you can report a lost club and order food.  The dress code and business park in the middle should draw a snooty crowd, but 2 groups let me play through and everyone in the clubhouse and on the course were great.  The greens were in pretty rough shape, lots of ball marks and burned patches, and the bunkers were hard and seemed empty.

All in all, this is probably tied with Elk Ridge as my favorite SW Washington course.  The service and price at ERGC gives it a slight edge as a walking round at Camas costs between $30 in the cheapest months to $56 in the summer.  Carts are only $9 in the winter, but skyrocket to $16 in the summer, and some holes are very far apart, so carts are advisable.  It’s tough to score this place as it’s worth the price, but there are probably better deals to be had in the Portland area.  Final Score: 48/60

Design – 9/10
Test of Golf – 8/10
Condition – 6/10
Amenities – 9/10
Value – 7/10
Experience – 9/10