Coeur d’Alene Golf Resort: Picture Perfect (Even in the Rain)
This Coeur d’Alene Golf Resort review was first published in June of 2013. You can find a more recent recap of the course from my last trip here. This post was updated in September 2022 to add relevant references to other courses in the area.
Ever since I found out I’d be attending a wedding in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho I’ve been excited to play some golf out there.
Scratch that, I’ve been excited to play there ever since I first saw the floating green many years ago.
The small Idaho town has quickly become a mecca of high-quality golf, not only for the Northwest, but for the entire United States.
Featuring two Top 100 Public Courses (Coeur’ d’Alene Resort and Circling Raven), as well as two Top 100 Courses (Gozzer Ranch and The Golf Club at Black Rock), there’s no shortage of high-quality holes in the area.
While most of the trip was wedding-focused, I did manage to sneak in a round at Coeur d’Alene Golf Resort and the unbelievable Golf Club at Black Rock.
What to Expect at Coeur d’Alene Resort?
I’ve heard story after story about the floating green at Coeur d’Alene, the level of service, and the meticulously manicured grounds – so I was excited to see for myself exactly what this was all about.
Our tee time was for 3:50 on Thursday evening, and was booked 6 weeks in advance.
You can imagine my dismay when checking the weather forecast earlier in the week, and all it said was “rain”.
Ok, it’s the northwest, anything can happen.
Nope, for 5 hours of the 6 hour drive from Portland Thursday morning, that’s exactly what we got. And a more accurate assessment may have read “torrential downpour”.
We showed up at the Resort, still doubting we would actually be ponying up the $110 twilight green fee to play in such terrible weather, and any hopes of the rain clearing were quickly dashed.
Even in the rain, driving in is pretty spectacular. I could tell the course was something special from the moment we got through the gates. Then once you pull up to the clubhouse, and can see the lake and world-famous floating green, there was no question, rain or shine, we had to get out there.
Despite the conditions, the level of service was easily on par or better than the nicest golf courses I’ve played.
Our caddy, Dan, met us at the car with our pimped out golf cart – that even included heated seats.
There was a pre-round massage you could partake in, but given the conditions we decided to just jump right in.
Even the driving range was unique. You’re hitting floating golf balls out into Lake Coeur d’Alene itself – which I’ve gotta say, was a pretty good time.
Not wanting to spend any more time in the rain than we needed to, we grabbed some dry towels and then headed out to Hole #1, completely unsure of where this round would take us.
The result? One of the most fun courses I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.
I told my girlfriend’s dad Kirk, that for once in my life I felt like the golf course was trying to help me play better. The fairways and greens often seemed to funnel inward, giving me more lucky bounces than I’m typically accustomed to.
My initial thoughts of maintenance were also confirmed once we got on the course – this thing is meticulously maintained. I’m talking, every single blade of grass being mowed on a daily basis. On more than one occasion I was able to putt onto the green from the fairway with a seamless transition. The fairways here could easily have been mistaken for greens at your local muni-course.
I can’t wait to go back and play Coeur d’Alene on a sunny day. Between the level of service, scenery, and simply fun golf holes, it’s no wonder Golf Digest ranked it was one of the country’s 50 Most Fun Golf Courses.
The Front 9
We played from the tan tees measuring a relatively short 5,914 yards. However, even from the tips, the course isn’t particularly long, measuring 6,803.
Distances in this writeup will be from the middle tees as that’s where we played from.
Hole 1 (Par 5, 499 yards): This is a great opening hole as it’s long open, and a slight downhill dogleg right. I bombed a drive to the right side of the fairway, but couldn’t get my 2nd shot to bend around a tree like I’d hoped. Despite some scary looking trees on the left of the green I was able to punch it out from pretty deep to leave it within 15 feet, for an easy par.
Hole 2 (Par 4, 377 yards): While one was a great opener, arguably the best stretch of holes on the course starts at #2. The hole seems to funnel balls into the middle of the fairway, thus furthering my hypothesis that Coeur d’Alene Resort does everything in it’s power to make you score better than you really are.
It also gives you a little hint of the spectacular scenery that’s to come with beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene behind the green.
Hole 3 (Par 3, 114 yards): A very unexpected par 3 that would easily be the signature hole on any other golf course. This very short hole borders tall timbers on the right, and the lake on the left.
In another instance of CDA being very friendly, if you hit it in the juniper bushes on the right on this hole (and many others) you get a free drop. Not sure if this is to speed up pace of play, protect the grounds, or just make people feel better about their scores, but I for one, loved this drop rule.
Just missed the green, and dropped the chip close for another par.
Hole 4 (Par 4, 256 yards): Another fun hole this has you heading up into the hills for a short fun, dogleg left. Hitting from an elevated teebox, the best play here is a easy hybrid or long iron out into the middle of the very forgiving fairway. Just be careful of the giant rock protecting the green. If you don’t get enough distance and hit it, there’s no telling where the ball is going to go.
Hole 5 (Par 3, 120 yards): It was quickly becoming apparent that CDA would have the most memorable collection of par 3s I’ve ever come across. None were overwhelmingly difficult, but they all had such unique features, and were so much fun to play that its going to be hard to surpass them.
#5 is a perfect example of this. A slightly elevated teebox, a huge bunker, gigantic rocks, and a killer view of the lake to boot make this one you won’t soon forget.
In what I thought would be a perfect shot, my short wedge was just a couple feet too short and flew straight left into juniper bushes 50 feet away after hitting the massive boulder protecting the green.
It’s for this reason I enjoyed the free drops so much!
That said, I left this hole with my first double of the round.
Hole 6 (Par 3, 155 yards): The second of back to back par 3s, it’s tough to tell which one is more scenic! While 6 has fewer trouble spots near the green, the view of the lake is completely distracting, and the drop from the teebox is definitely one of the highest you’ll see (or at least I thought it was until I played Black Rock).
Once again, the free drop from the junipers all down the right is sure to help out more than a few duffers.
Hole 7 (Par 4, 389 yards): The 7th was one of those holes where everything just clicked for me. I had one of my better drives of the day, missing the bunker on the left, and it was one of those awesome moments on a golf course where you just pause, and think about how much fun you’re having.
Even with the rain, the previous stretch of holes were among some of the most unique I’ve played, and I wasn’t even close to the hole they were most famous for.
Ended with a solid par here.
Hole 8 (Par 4, 399 yards): The 8th was kind of a tricky par 4. The drive is easy enough but you have bunkers guarding the green all down the left hand side and in front of it, so accuracy is really important here. I made a couple mental errors and ended up with another double, but the approach to the green is certainly one of the more interesting on the course.
Hole 9 (Par 5, 540 Yards): CDA opens the front and closes the front with solid par 5s. #9 was long, and while fairly open, definitely not the easiest hole to reach in two. Play smart, and go for accuracy over length here, and there’s nothing that should keep you from carding a par or birdie.
While in the middle of the hole, our caddy also ran inside to grab us our engraved bag tags, a totally unexpected, but great value add, that proves why The Coeur D’Alene Golf Resort is always ranked so highly for service.
The Back 9
The back 9 at CDA is just as interesting as the front, however in completely different ways. While the front had some unbelievable holes through the highland area of the property, the back really shines with it’s holes along the water.
Hole 10 (Par 4, 406 yards): A straight forward par 4, this is a great chance for a par to start off the back. Aim towards the left side of the fairway to miss the bunker and trees on the right, and also to get the best angle into the green. My drive was stopped a little short due to swirling wind, but hit a solid 5 iron to the front of the green for an easy two putt to start out the back.
Hole 11 (Par 5, 506 yards): This is where the back starts to get interesting again, and has what’s probably my second favorite stretch of holes on the course.
11 is a reachable par 5, but also marked a string of slices with my driver that had had me working hard to keep my score low.
I ended up on the teebox in 10, and wasted a shot or two trying to get back out in the fairway. I laid up short of the creek, and then finished out the hole for a two putt, and a disappointing double bogey.
It was right around here I realized I had a pretty good round going. I think I was more relaxed and less competitive due to the rain, and so I wasn’t expecting much out of the round, but it felt good knowing that I was at least getting my money’s worth for what ended up being the most expensive round of golf I’ve ever paid for.
Hole 12 (Par 3, 180 yards): It was probably just a little ego stroking when my caddy told me right after landing the green on this fairly long par 3, that only 1 in 8 golfers ever hits this green. I managed a two putt for a par, but was continually distracted by wondering how much the condos that towered above this green would cost. Turns out 1.5 to 3.5 million and it includes a lifetime membership to the resort.
Hole 13 (Par 4, 293 yards): While you’d obviously expect 14 to be the most memorable hole on the course, 13 was the first of three very memorable holes for me.
It’s already one of the most interesting and beautiful holes anywhere, as it’s a short par 4 that borders Lake CDA all along the left hand side. There’s also two inlets that make you choose between laying up and going for it, which is at least a 250 yard carry.
I laid up with a 5 iron and had about 150 left to the hole. I whipped out my seven iron hit the bank on the right and watched it trickle down to the hole…landing literally 3 inches away. Closest I’ve been to an eagle in quite some time.
The Floating Green
Hole 14 (Par 3, 154 Yards the day we played)
You’ve undoubetdly heard about it. You’ve seen the photos. But the question remains, does it live up to all the hype?
To be honest, I really thought the whole floating green thing was going to be gimmicky (which, it still is) but actually playing the hole exceeded my expectations.
First there’s the tension of whether or not you’re actually going to hit it.
I felt even more accomplished for landing the island, after our caddy told us only about 1 in 4 people get it on there. Whether that was true or not didn’t matter, it certainly made me feel good!
We hopped aboard the Putter Boat which was a short ride out to the green, and once you’re out there it truly is a unique experience to look back at the resort and finish out your round. Granted for us, we were still soaking wet, but I imagine under most conditions, you’d be taking a few extra seconds on your putts to try and enjoy every second of being out there.
We didn’t get the certificate of completion, but that didn’t really matter. Being able to say you landed the floating green is certainly something that should be on every golfer’s bucket list.
The Rest of the Back 9
Hole 15 (Par 5, 462 yards) After a few pretty good holes, 15 and 16 came in and hit me like a ton of bricks. What should have been a pretty standard par 5 had me covering both sides of the fairway after I sliced it on the drive and was in recovery mode for the rest of the hole.
I managed to save a bogey, but wasn’t so lucky on 16.
Hole 16 (Par 4, 401): Once again my drive went to the right and I found myself in a patch of trees. I tried to punch it out, but my luck only got worse as I found myself on a very narrow strip of uneven grass protruding into the fairway bunker – one of those shots that you’d wish would have just fallen into the sand.
I hit it into the trees left of the green and then it took me a few more strokes to get out from there. Not sure why this hole was playing so difficult, but threw away an extra three strokes with a triple.
Hole 17 (Par 4, 236 yards): I walked away from my round at Coeur d’Alene with a love/hate relationship of #17.
On the love side of things, it’s a very short, and thus, very fun par 4. It was playing about 240 to the tee from our teebox, so I pulled out a driver and hit one of the best drives of my life, leaving it about 5 feet away for an eagle putt.
I’ll let you guess what happened next.
Yep, I missed the putt.
Sure, I shouldn’t be able to complain about an easy tap in for birdie, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had an eagle.
Hole 18 (Par 4, 434 yards): The closing hole is easily one of the more difficult holes on the course. It’s relatively long and has sand covering both sides of the fairway, as well as the green. I ended up on a very uneven lie, and then proceeded to hit it down in the gully to the left on my next shot. And believe me, when I say down, I mean down.
I struggled my way through the rest of the hole, finishing with a very disappointing triple bogey.
I’ve never shot better than an 86 before, and for awhile I was really thinking this very rainy round at Coeur d’Alene was going to be the one to do it.
In the end, my round at the Resort was one of the most fun I’ve had. The course was great, I had some extremely memorable shots, and well, there’s no way I’ll be forgetting about that rain any time soon.
Have you played at Coeur d’Alene Resort before? Tell us about it in the comments!
My wife ran the Ironman a couple years ago and I went with as the nominal raceday support crew. So that she could experience her first “full” to the fullest, we stayed at the resort which overlooks the start/finish lines, and caters to the racers (e.g. eggs and bacon delivered to the room at 4:00am).
On pre-race day, I went ahead and teed it up at the course, and it was a FANTASTIC ride. First, I played with a guy I had met on a muni the day before and his buddy – both wrestling coaches from Montana – and another “race support husband”. Always fun to play memorable rounds with new friends.
From the resort, you catch the “shuttle” to the course – a 15 minute boat ride in a sweet all wood ship. What a way to start your round! Clubs had been delivered on the prior boat and were waiting at the range.
I went ahead and enjoyed a ten minute shoulder massage (free – but throw a nice tip out!) and then hit the range. Floating balls aren’t my favorite, but it’s fun to lash them out into the middle of the lake. Focus on your swing, not where it ends up, as it’s impossible to get a feel for what you are actually doing without any roll.
The course itself is best reviewed above! Great job capturing the beauty and fun of this gem.
As for the island? I hit it, but missed the green by a couple feet. Up and down for par felt good though. My “race buddy” did the same, and the boys from Montana went fishing. From the time we got there to the time we were done with lunch, I didn’t see anyone else come close. It’s wasn’t set up too long (I think 160?), but it’s just darn imposing.
Loved the course – jealous of your getting to hit Black Rock! Great site…look me up if you get out to Chapel Hill.
I take an annual golf trip for my birthday every year. Three years ago we chose the resort in CDA.
We stayed at the resort and got to experience the ride in the cherry wood speed boats, this started the trip off to a bang!
It was an unforgettable experience. We also played in the rain. We had the privilege of playing the first day with a member of the course. His course knowledge and stories of famous people playing the resort or side wagers that have gone down made for a great round.
We had such a great time playing the first day that we cancelled our round in Spokane, WA the next day to replay with the member again. Even on the second day I noticed parts of the course I wouldn’t have the first day.
The story behind the juniper bushes is the owner of the resort, Duane Hagadone, had several juniper bushes planted around the course as they are his favorite bush. He didn’t want guests digging and ruining his bushes so all balls hit in them are free drops. This information was given to us by our fore-caddie the first day.
Cheers from Boise, ID