The beautiful Gene Bates-designed course south of Lake Coeur d’Alene has wintered well.
Bob Bostwick, Director of Public Relations for the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel in Worley, Idaho, likes to call Circling Raven, the resort’s golf course, the “course that made Gene Bates famous.”
Bates laughs at the label. “I don’t know about that,” he says. “But I suppose it has been ranked among the country’s top 100 public courses for over a decade now, so at least the course is well-known.”
A former associate with Jack Nicklaus’s design company, Bates was the man among a strong group of architects who identified the most promising land on the Tribe’s vast 345,000-acre reservation on which to build the course. It opened in August 2003, and recalls the legend of a Tribal Chief who, near death, sought the raven’s help in finding food and water, keeping him safe, and guiding him home.
Bates built the course with his brother Gary, another former Nicklaus employee, and Gary’s son Casey who has worked as project foreman, lead shaper, and design coordinator with some of the biggest names in the game – Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Weiskopf, and Tom Fazio among others.
The course, a two-hour flight or 15-hour drive from Denver northwest through Wyoming, western Montana, and the Idaho Panhandle, re-opened this past weekend after its customary five-month winter break. Bostwick says that while it sat under plenty of snow in December and January, the last three months have been snow-free and relatively mild. “It has rained some,” he says, ‘but all in all, it was almost the perfect winter for the course which came through with hardly a flyspeck of winter residue.”
If there was any snow mold at all, it has long since disappeared, Bostwick adds, and there wasn’t any ice damage. In fact, the only thing that caused a moment’s concern was a small increase in elk activity.
“Yes, the herd left us some very special gifts this year,” says Bostwick. “But that’s all raked up and has been moved to somewhere it can do some good.” In short, Bostwick adds, Circling Raven came through the winter unscathed and, for the second year in a row, will have near-perfect early season conditions.
It’s not alone. According to Bostwick, nearly every other course in the Coeur d’Alene/Spokane area is currently enjoying mid-season conditions six weeks or so ahead of schedule. “We still have a little greening up to do in the wetlands and deciduous trees,” Bostwick says. “But that is forecast to happen early this year.”
If you’ve not made the journey to northwest Idaho and eastern Washington to play the wonderful Circling Raven and handful of equally enjoyable courses nearby(ish) – the Coeur d’Alene Resort Course, Palouse Ridge, Indian Canyon, and Wine Valley in Walla Walla (okay that will require a little extra driving, but I assure you it’s worth it) – don’t you think it’s about time you did?
The peak summer rate at Circling Raven has never topped $100, and remains at $95 in 2016. And with the CDA Casino Resort Hotel, and its very comfortable Spa Tower wing, just half a mile away, a spring/summer road trip might well be on the cards.