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Idaho’s Winning Pair: Circling Raven and Coeur d’Alene

You’ll find the No. 1 Ranked Public Course in Idaho at Circling Raven Golf Club matched with welcoming accommodations at The Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort.

Courtesy Circling Raven

The awards speak volumes:

-Best Casino Course Golfweek rates Circling Raven one of “America’s Best Casino Golf Courses”

-Golf Digest again cites Circling Raven as one of “America’s Greatest 100 Public Courses”

-“Best in the West” Golf Advisor taps Circling Raven as one of the top five courses in the American West

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“We’re pleased to join iconic properties like Pebble Beach and Bandon Dunes on those coveted lists of most highly regarded stay-and-play venues in America,” said Laura Penney, CEO of Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel (owned by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe). “There are more than 14,000 golf courses in the country, so to be among the best is a status we work hard to achieve and maintain annually.”

Courtesy Circling Raven

Courtesy Circling Raven

It starts with the golf.

Circling Raven, designed by Gene Bates, (opening in 2003 with a course rating of 74.5 and a slope rating of 140) roams over 620 acres at the western edge of the northern Rocky Mountains. Measuring 7,189 yards from the rear tees, the par 72 course meanders through visually stunning land adjoining the Coeur d’Alene National Forest. And the course’s five sets of tees ensure a challenging round for players of every level.

But even before you begin things at the first tee, give yourself plenty of time to warm up because the practice facility is unmatched (there’s an entire separate section just for wedges!)

When your round starts, you’ll immediately embrace the setting which includes hundreds of acres with no surrounding development.

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From the tee on No. 1, with this reachable par 5 you’ll notice wetlands with aspen trees then as you head toward the second tee, you’ll see just how unique the Circling Raven layout is.

Circling Raven the No. 1 Ranked Public Course in Idaho

Courtesy Circling Raven

Driving through the tunnel under the railroad tracks you’ll find yourself surrounded by The Palouse, rolling hills characterized by fertile soil ideal for dry-land farming of wheat and legumes that stretches from northern Idaho to eastern Washington.

And as you go deeper into your round, you’ll garner a sensation of splendid isolation with you and nature. No housing developments. No highways. Just the occasional spotting of moose, eagles, coyotes, deer and other birds as only 100 of the 620 acres that the course covers are actively cultivated.

No. 8 is often seen as the signature hole. It’s downhill with no room to miss right and there’s a hillside and open forest to the left once you clear the gully that is the forced carry from the tee.

White sand bunkers are large and strategically placed and its hole variety ingenious, but the real challenge the architect provides is among the Par 3s.

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Each play downhill and require forced carries. From the tips, they play 217 yards, 212 yards, 253 yards and 192 yards. The longest hole, No. 13, is bordered by forest on the left and right with 20-30 yards of grass between the edge of the wetlands and the green. Believe me, par is a good score on any of these daunting holes.

Courtesy Circling Raven

Coming off a $15 million renovation of its gaming floor and Events Center in 2019, the casino itself had a modest start as a humble bingo hall in 1993.

The hotel has grown to include 300 rooms and 14 suites, an indoor pool and jacuzzi, spa and fitness center. Its casino features 100,000 square feet of gaming and more than 1,600 video-gaming machines.

“We know there was a great opportunity to grow our casino resort and golf club businesses,” said Mrs. Penney, an avid golfer and tribe member who has been working for the CDA Casino Resort Hotel for more than 25 years. “We just had to ensure that we made smart decisions and then did the necessary work to make them succeed. We look forward to building on our reinforced foundation.”

While the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort and Circling Raven Golf Club provide the foundation of your visit, it also offers up other great golfing opportunities nearby.

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Just 30 miles south is the Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course.

Courtesy Coeur d’Alene

While it digs significantly deeper into your pocketbook, at the same time, it is a must-play course.

Some of the highlights The Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course include:

Par 3 – Hole 5

Redesigned in 2003, the par 3 5th blossomed to become one of the most picturesque holes on The Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course. Inspired by a unique golf hole in Sardinia, Italy on the Mediterranean, the clover-shaped, three-tiered green is surrounded by one of the world’s largest formal bunkers, as well as beautiful, rust-toned rock outcroppings. Spectacular elevated views of Lake Coeur d’Alene paint the backdrop of this unforgettable golf hole.

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Courtesy Coeur d’Alene

Risk–reward pin placements are not unusual on this green. Heed their pros’ advice: “play your tee shot to the middle of the green”.

Par 5 – Hole 9

This long par 5 is the longest on the course—a slight dog-leg left with a large fairway bunker on the right. Long hitters will require a pinpoint accurate tee shot to split the narrow landing area between the bunker on the right and a treed hill on the left. The small green is well protected with three bunkers and a deceivingly sloped putting surface.

Par 3 – 14th

The most unique feature of the green is its distance from the tee, which changes every day via an intricate, computer-controlled, underwater cable system. At approximately 15,000 square feet, the island may look intimidating, but it’s a deceivingly large target. The back and front-right of the green is protected by bunkers. Golfers take a maximum of two attempts to land safely on the island before accepting a drop on the green if necessary.

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Courtesy Coeur d’Alene

To finish the hole, players board the “Putter” boat, an electric-powered shuttle, ferrying golfers to and from the island green. As you depart the island, the boat captain will leave you with a personalized Certificate of Achievement, commemorating the completion of one of the most memorable holes in golf.

And finally, located approximately 55 minutes from Spokane International Airport (GEG), Circling Raven offers golfers the chance to squeeze in another round at another fine layout before their flight takes off.

Owned and operated by the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, the newly renovated Kalispel Golf and Country Club provides a challenging round in a picturesque setting along the Little Spokane River just north of the city.

Players of all skill levels have enjoyed its beautiful surroundings for more than 100 years. The Par 72 course, with 54 strategically placed bunkers and water hazards impacting seven holes, has had very few design changes since 1910.

Courtesy Kalispel Golf Club

Nestled against the foothills of Rattlesnake Ridge and alongside the meandering Little Spokane River, golfers are likely to experience nature’s beauty at every turn. With natural landscaping, very few fabricated contours and the opportunity to see deer, moose and other beautiful animals wandering across the fairways, the Kalispel Golf and Country Club is a memorable experience.

And when you come off of 18, do yourself a favor before you head to the airport. Some of the best dining you’ll find in the entire area is right outside the clubhouse at the storied 1898 Public House and its team of seasoned culinary professionals with a menu that touches every upscale culinary flavor imaginable.

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