In recent years, new golf courses have sprung up in non-traditional destinations. Consider Bandon Dunes in Oregon, which opened in 1999. It (and its sister courses, Pacific Dunes and Bandon Trails) turned an otherwise sleepy Oregon coastal town into a golfing mecca.
Inspired by the same "If you build it, they will come" philosophy, new courses have opened in other four-season areas like Maine, Colorado and North Dakota. Perhaps golfers want an alternative to palm trees and cacti, or maybe it's just that really good courses are springing up in the most unlikely of places. Whatever the reason, we're no longer surprised to hear golfers get jazzed about visiting remote areas.
Recently the Gem State of Idaho has emerged as golf's newest hot spot. Despite being better known for its skiing and wintertime activities, its undulating, unspoiled terrain and dramatic backdrops have presented architects with an opportunity to shape land into some of the country's best new courses.
Play at one of the following standouts, and you'll understand why they're worth the trip.
Circling Raven Golf Club Worley, Idaho www.circlingraven.com The Golf: With unspoiled views and plenty of land (it's built on 620 acres), it's not unusual for golfers to go 18 holes without seeing another foursome. Diversions: Go fly-fishing up the St. Joe River, America's highest navigable river. Empty your pockets into one of the 1,800 gaming machines at Coeur d'Alene Casino. How To Get There: Nine major airlines fly into the Spokane, Wash., airport, including Delta, Southwest and United. The airport is 45 minutes from the course.Coeur D'Alene is home of the famous floating green.
Coeur D'Alene Golf Club Coeur D'Alene, Idaho www.cdaresort.com The Golf: Expertly manicured with the famous floating green, what Coeur d'Alene lacks in size it makes up for in conditioning. (Although two recent visits by GT staff revealed lackluster green conditions.) Diversions: Take a boat ride around the pristine Coeur d'Alene lake, fly-fish on the Clark Fork River or go whitewater rafting. How To Get There: Like Circling Raven, Coeur D'Alene is less than an hour from Spokane International Airport.
The Idaho Club Sandpoint, Idaho www.theidahoclub.com The Golf: Home of Idaho's first Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, this new, private community sits on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho's largest lake. (Opens April 2008) Diversions: Plans call for a Club Spa and Fitness Center, Lake Club & Marina and "Kids Camp." How To Get There: The Idaho Club is located in Sandpoint between Coeur D'Alene and the Canadian border. The nearest major airport is Spokane International, roughly 75 miles away.
Osprey Meadows at Tamarack Resort Donnelly, Idaho www.tamarackidaho.com The Golf: This tough Robert Trent Jones, Jr. course demands careful placement off the tee and pinpoint accuracy on approach shots. Diversions: Take a boat ride on Lake Cascade. How To Get There: Eight major airlines serve Boise International Airport. Chartered car service or shuttle service is highly recommended, as Tamarack is two hours north of the airport.
Whitetail Club and Resort McCall, Idaho www.whitetailclub.com The Golf: A pristinely manicured, private course featuring many holes routed through dense forests of pines. Reciprocal deals are available with the nearby Osprey Meadows. Diversions: Raft, fish and hike down the Salmon River. How To Get There: Like its neighbor, Osprey Meadows, one of Whitetail's charms is its remoteness. It's about two-and-a-half hours from Boise.When you play Circling Raven there isn't a house in sight.
Off The Fairway Want to get away from it all? Try one of these remote beauties. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort Bandon, Ore. Play here, and you'll swear you were in Ireland. Visitors fly into the tiny (but expanding) Southwest Oregon Regional Airport. www.bandondunesgolf.com _Ê
Hawktree Golf Club Bismarck, N.D. Designed by Jim Engh, this course debuted in 2000 to great acclaim. Be on the lookout for black coal slag in the bunkers, native grass and mounds on the 7,085-yard layout. www.hawktree.com
Predator Ridge Golf Club Vernon, British Columbia 27 challenging holes designed by Canadian Les Furber, Predator Ridge is located in British Columbia's central plateau just minutes from the Kelowna Airport. www.predatorridge.com