Aug. 5, 2017: The Creek at Qualchan Golf Course, Spokane
Sometimes the things you take home from a place don’t have anything to do with golf, really, and everything to do with who was there on the journey and the knobs and burls of the land we borrowed.
And what you find on the way, at this place, begins — at least it did for the Roadies — with the straight-ahead beauty of No. 10. We played the front nine, really we did, but outside of No. 1 (the course’s signature hole, they say, with a tee shot to a highway-side fairway a hundred feet below), no single hole on the front stands out like that one after the turn, then the par-3 on 11, the kinky and puzzling par-4 13th and the truly inexplicable (until you unwind it) finishing hole.
There’s not a bad-looking hole on the course, nor is there anything conventional in the newest property in the city system. Opened in 1992, the William Robinson design more than holds its own in looks and challenge with Indian Canyon, the most-decorated course in the city, and the $40 green fee makes Qualchan just about the best golf value in Grey Goatee Nation.
We benefited from the local knowledge of the guys they put us Roadies with — Don Dwyer, 76, and Jared Dahl, 27, grandfather and grandson, the former a crisp and consistent ball-striker and the latter an athletic long-hitter who’s done time in the golf industry.
There was no hole we leaned on their counsel more than No. 13, where a long look up the course from the teebox yields few clues. An inward-slanting slope all along the left side of your field of vision is interesting enough, but it’s what you can’t see over the hill that gives you pause.
You don’t need a big tee shot here, we were told, and I didn’t hit one. The shot was shit, simply and truly, but the weak grounder found a hole through the drawn-in infield, so to say, and kept on rolling. When I found my ball I had a good look at an approach that even if not executed showed the way to play the hole, next time.
So, eventually, to the 18th. There may be no hole like it. You don’t hurt yourself with a good tee ball but the second shot needs to be a lay-up, anyway, to get in position for a third shot way up over the Latah Creek gulch to an elevated green. When you get there, don’t forget to look back where you came from.
Qualchan is much better experienced than described here, and much better played in the company of guys who enjoyed ours, respected the game and the golf course and hung around afterward to talk about it all. We did all right, on Day One, at the jewel in the bucket hat of Spokane public golf.
Tomorrow: Esmeralda Golf Course, Spokane.