Date Played: March 16th, 2013

McCormick Woods is an enigma of a course. That’s about the only definitive statement I can make after my round. The course, which is located smack dab between Trophy Lake and Gold Mountain on the South end of the Olympic Peninsula has a pretty sterling reputation which has been enhanced since the formation of the RMG Club. The RMG collection (owned by local PGA Tour member Ryan Moore) is 3 solid courses on the South end that are now affiliated and act as a collection of courses that you can purchase a very reasonable $179 monthly unlimited membership to. When Sean and I arrived on this misty Saturday, we came expecting a nice experience at a great course, but we both left pretty confused.

Pulling up to the clubhouse, you immediately notice how nice the complex is. The restaurant has great reviews and the clubhouse is very well stocked and the lady at the counter was extremely helpful and friendly. The driving range is nice, with huge net targets that allow Mr. Magoo’s like myself to easily track distances. On the course, we got a discounted rate because the greens had been sanded. I expected pretty rough greens, but having seen freshly punched and sanded greens at courses like Gleneagle and Walter Hall, I know what a punched green in good shape looks like, and these were in abysmal shape.

The sand on most greens covered up what grass was left and huge swaths of green were pretty damaged in what areas weren’t buried. Beyond the greens, the rough was out of control. It was thick and long and made playing out of anything but the fairway nearly impossible. The fairways were in decent shape, but it hardly makes up for the rest of the course. What makes this all the more shameful is that the design of the course was really solid. Tons of dog-leg, lots of great bunkering and penalizing trees are signatures of this course.

The curvature on this course is pretty insane. On the par 5 9th hole, the fairway jettisons out about 200 yards where it takes a 90 degree turn and heads straight downhill. So steep downhill that the cart path needed a switch back. If you can hit a great drive you’re rewarded with 200+ yards into a green protected on both sides by bunkers. On the par 4 12th hole you are greeted with an amazing view of Mount Rainier on a clear day. Beyond the great view is a strange hole that doglegs 90 degrees to the right and requires an accurate tee shot as there is a fairway bunker to guard long shots and a hidden horseshoe-shaped pond right, in case you were thinking about cutting the corner.

One feature that needs to be recognized is that all the houses (lining fairways on most of the holes) are all pushed back about 30 yards and covered by trees. No giant nets and McMansion lawns pushed right up on the 1st cut here. It’s refreshing to not have to listen for a window when I duck hook a drive into the woods.

Bottom Line: This place was in terrible shape, but it’s a solid design when it’s kept up. If you live in Pierce or Kitsap Counties, really think about the “All-Access” membership. For $179 a month, you can play unlimited at Oakbrook Country Club and The Classic in Spanaway when McCormick is in bad shape. Final Score: 66/100

Design – 18/25 (Tough course with some odd design cues that make you think)
Test of Golf – 18/25 (The woods force you straight and the turns force you long. If the rough was more manageable it would be kinder to the average golfer)
Value – 13/20 ($42 walking in shoulder season is too much. Membership options are nice)
Condition – 4/10 (Greens and rough are awful, fairways are pretty good)
Amenities – 7/10 (Average stuff all around, but they aren’t missing anything)
Experience – 6/10 (We were warned that the greens were sanded, but these were downright mismanaged. Staff was great, let one of our group who forgot a wallet pay for drink after his round)