In early October of this year Myra and I ventured across the border from British Columbia to the Evergreen State of Washington. In a stretch of 5 days we were going to consume a massive dose of spectator sports. The Seattle downtown core was our final destination with The Seahawks, Sounders, Mariners and Thunderbirds on our radar as well as a mountain of nachos, popcorn and foot longs, of course.
Also included in the getaway were rounds of golf at Sudden Valley Golf Course on the shores of beautiful lake Whatcom and North Bellingham Golf Course situated less than a couple of miles from our hotel room in Bellingham.
It had been at least 20 years since I played golf in the Bellingham area, well before Myra and I had met actually, so long ago that if I had played Sudden Valley I hadn’t remembered anything about it.
After playing it this time I wouldn’t be able to make that proclamation again as a combination of really great golf holes, a welcoming staff and some fine play by both of us would leave an indelible mark in my mind.
The meandering drive to the course from Bellingham brought us up to a tree lined entrance road to the course and immediately set us in a great mood.
Two very genial professionals, Brian Kruhlak, PGA Director of Golf and Mike Fields his first Assistant, greeted us.
Brian, like Myra, a dual citizen of both of our nations, Canada and the USA, set us up with a brief overview of what to expect of the two vastly different nines. Mike, after a few years away in Arizona, came back to his local area to work at a course he was obviously proud to be part of.
He provided me with a few facts about the locale and also a few pointers on how to score effectively, one of which was to surrender the driver a little on the tight back nine and opt for a more positional mind set off the tee.
The course greets you with a gentle, relaxing opening Par 5 and the first few holes are flat and forgiving off the tee just the way a round should start.
The 5th is a gem of hole with the green looking like it is set right in the lake and on a hot summer day it might temp you to delay your round, slip off your shoes and dip your toes in while taking in the serenity of this magical setting.
Although this was fall golf, the course played and looked like a mid summers day as the greens were smooth and fast, the fairways still lush and if a bunker shot was required it was from that lovely, fluffy sand that allows for easy extrication.
The course caters to any level and it was nice to see that the less skilled or short hitters also had gold tee markers to choose from that were set well ahead of the traditional red forward tees.
I opted for the back, blue tees and at 6,550 yards amidst a 12-degree slightly breezy day I felt good in shooting an 81, playing right to my 9 handicap.
As we finished the 9th we headed into grab a quick bite to go and of course hot dogs for two. A very, friendly Hispanic cook even offered to fry some extra onions to add to the dogs and I took advantage of his kindness and before I teed off on the Par 5 10th was almost ready to go back in and reload. That hot dog lasted about as long as it takes to line up a 6-foot birdie putt and knowing Myra isn’t the biggest eater on the block another half a dog came my way by the 12th tee.
For all the level lies and flatness the front nine possessed, the back nine climbed up and up and was set amidst some gorgeous homes, which didn’t intrude on play at all.
Arriving at the 15th tee Myra was astonished at the precipitous position of the tee boxes. The drop downward to the fairway was easily 150 feet and the hang time of our drives seemed to go on forever.
The cart ride down to the fairway was especially thrilling too.
Water stations were positioned throughout the course and large new tee box signs adorned each hole.
With both nines beginning with Par 5’s and ending with really rewarding Par 4’s the great holes in between were countless bonuses highlighted by a near miss eagle on the 7th for me and numerous great shots by Myra.
One would never tire of playing Sudden Valley with its huge variety of trees; meandering streams and a diverse lay out. Some courses you play once and think,
“That was nice and fun” and others like Sudden Valley you know you have to return to and play again and again.
Afterwards in the Mexican themed clubhouse we shared complimentary Taco chips and salsa with a cold O’Doul’s planning a date for our next Bellingham adventure at this 18-hole marvel that Superintendent Jake Close and his crew should be very proud of.
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Didn’t learn much about the course, but good to know the cook was Hispanic.