Tri-Mountain Golf Course

Tri-Mountain Golf Course is a links course in Ridgefield, WA, and provides a well-maintained track built to serve all golfers. For being affordable and close-in, the grounds are kept in great shape and the greens are healthy and smooth. Tri-Mountain is a good scoring course for serious golfers, with it’s large targets and true putting surfaces. The same reasons make it friendly for casual golfers to gain more experience on a regulation course. Perhaps under-utilized by Portland residents, Tri-Mountain is a fantastic course to frequent, and is popular among many SW Washingtonians. It’s conveniently located near I-5, which is visible on some of the holes, but doesn’t distract from an overall pleasant setting. Rolling terrain and nice views that include the namesake panorama of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood, tops off what is a great golf course.

Tri-Mountain Golf Course has a very open layout, with wide targets and minimal trees. The course is built amid shapely rolling terrain, but the overall topography is flat. Tri-Mountain plays relatively short given it’s ample layout, so longer hitters will want to play the blue tees. Despite providing generous landing spaces, there are plenty of challenges that do exist, namely, water and bunkers. There are a lot of green side ponds that will drink up inaccurate approach shots or errant lay-ups. And closer in, all of the greens are guarded by lots of sand traps and grass bunkers. A sand landing is often favorable, as some of the rough, specifically near green-side collection areas, can get very thick. The greens, which also provide ample landing area, are a standout quality at Tri-Mountain. They’re not extremely difficult to read, but they are in superb shape, and offer a very true roll. The wonderful condition of the greens also contribute to fast speeds in season.

Tri-Mountain is also a good course to practice the game of golf, or hang out after a round of 18. A cool, unique feature about Tri-Mountain’s practice facilities is the aqua-range, in which you drive your practice shots into a body of water with distance targets. They also have a great short game facility with a standard putting green, but also, a nice chipping green with steep bunkers. In addition, they have a miniature golf course, with real turf surfaces. The clubhouse is solid, with a full pro shop and merchandise, as well as a  restaurant and dining area. They also have a large deck off the back for 19th Hole mountain views.

The Cedars on Salmon Creek

The Cedars on Salmon Creek, in Brush Prairie, WA, is a quiet, country course just outside of ear shot from the greater Portland/Vancouver area. Tucked back into a forested setting and recently redesigned as a Par 68 golf course, The Cedars begins a bit tight and tree-lined before transitioning through several open meadows. This rural, woodland environment sets up for a diverse track of traditional style golf holes and presents a new perspective at each tee. Natural wetlands and an old wooden train truss that traverses the back 9 add some rustic charm to this semi-secluded venue. For golfers in SW Washington, The Cedars is a great option to keep in the normal rotation of tee times, and it’s reasonable proximity to the greater Portland area makes it a recommended visit to golfers residing south of the Columbia as well.  Factor in quality putting surfaces to this peaceful setting, and The Cedars on Salmon Creek has the key ingredients for a well-rounded golf experience.

The Cedars on Salmon Creek is generously sprawled out among terrain that is primarily flat with some gradual sloping at times. Overall, this is a great walking track for those looking to pace their way through golf’s great outdoors. Large, old growth trees and thick forest serve as obstacles and/or out of bounds, along with a fair share of water hazards. As the course progresses, the grounds seem to open up a bit with some generous landing areas off the tee. Arguably the biggest challenge at The Cedars are the Par 3’s, each presenting respective challenges including distance, elevation, water and even a narrow opening between trees on Hole 10. Sand is present throughout much of the course, but is not an overwhelming factor of play. The bunkers, while occasionally large, are not very deep and seldom located anywhere but near the greens. The ground maintenance meets expectations of what you’d hope for at a reasonably priced course like The Cedars, but the greens just might exceed them. The putting surfaces roll very true with some quick speeds and testy sloping, and cap off what is an overall solid option for Northwest golf.

Mint Valley Golf Course

Living in the northwest can spoil a golfer. With every style of course available to you, unfortunately great courses can be overlooked as one of the finest in the region. Mint Valley Golf Course in Longview, WA is one of those courses. With a country club feel to the layout, bunkering and quality of greens, it doesn’t take long to recognize Mint Valley as one of the most entertaining tracks anywhere in the area. Tall grasses, water and old growth trees make for more a challenging but manageable round when playing Mint Valley.

Each hole at Mint Valley plays against the contours of the land beautifully. The Par 3 17th, Par 4 6th Hole and the Par 5 11th Hole are excellent representations of the way the course uses the topography of the land to entice golfers to take chances while rewarding shot making. The fairways at Mint Valley are generous for the most part, depending on how aggressive off the tee you decide to be. The real challenge at Mint Valley second shot into most green. Large sloping putting surfaces can easily lead to 3 putts if you miss on the wrong side of the hole. Pace of play is swift at Mint Valley as it is driver friendly and lost balls being fairly uncommon. Mint Valley is definitely a highlight of SW Washington golf and should not be overlooked.

Lewis River Golf Course

Lewis River Golf Course is an entertaining golf venue in the western Cascadian foothills of Woodland, WA. Built in a forested valley along the namesake river, it has a remote appeal but is just a quick journey from the Portland metro area. Due to it’s saturable, river valley setting, the course conditions can be challenged in times of rain. However, the grounds are pleasantly maintained with landscaped areas of shrubbery and flowers amid other beautiful native elements. Some of the holes are simply straight and bland, while others have a lot to offer. Lewis River has some cool features, like the neighboring greens of the Par 4 16th and Par 3 17th; each are contained from their relative ponds by wood-planked walls, and partitioned from one another by a steep bunker. And the river-walk of the Par 4 18th concludes an impressionable final stretch. Lewis River provides a seclusively enjoyable golf getaway within a fair proximity to the city.

Lewis River is built along primarily flat grounds, wedged between the river and the hills. The distances here are polarized, ranging from reachable Par 4’s to a 600+ yard Par 5. Lewis River offers a mix of nondescript holes and fun, character-filled holes. The latter variety require a course management approach due to doglegs, tight approach angles, and other impeding hazards. These memorable holes involve a bit more undulation in the terrain to go along with water-guarded greens and nice landscaping. Lewis River has plenty of water in the form of ponds, creeks and other hazards. Green side sand traps are also common, and there’s a large fairway bunker, uniquely housing several large trees, between the Par 4’s 13th & 14th. The greens are typically ample in landing area, yet well defended. The putting surfaces are rather contoured, but not too intimidating thanks to slower speeds in early and late season, and average speeds during the summer.

Lewis River is a decent destination regarding practice amenities for nearby residents. The practice green is notably nice, as it’s large in size, provides ample break, and is situated with a glaring view of the river. The driving range is a bit limited, as longer hitters will only have space for iron practice. However, it provides grass-surface hitting, and plenty of stations. The clubhouse is a large, beautiful structure with huge, log pillars and a detailed design. It houses a nice pro shop with typical merchandise, as well as a restaurant and an elevated deck overlooking the course and river.

Lakeview Par 3 Golf Challenge

Lakeview Par 3 Golf Challenge is a Nine Hole Par 3 course in Vancouver, WA that is full of character and an experience unlike any other in the local golf community. Essentially a backyard golf course, Lakeview Par 3 derives its difficulty from narrow tree lined shots and it’s hallmark, pin placement designation that dictates the severity of the course that day. When you arrive at Lakeview Par 3, you are greeted by a sign that rates the difficulty of the course that day on a 1-10 scale. A 1 rating signifies easy pin placements that day, while a 10 means you better hang on. Pin placements on an extreme day may mean the pin is on a slope so severe, your ball could end up in a myriad of hazards if you don’t hit the middle of the cup. Anything close to par on a difficult day is an accomplishment in itself.

Outside of the pin placement designations, there are many other unique features that make Lakeview Par 3 unforgettable. A short walk right of the house on property brings you to a hidden tee box on the first hole that is essentially a pier over the lake in which the course gets it’s name, turning the first hole in to a long, difficult Par 3. Many of the holes are tree lined, and some holes have trees in the middle of the fairway that you must navigate around. While the greens are more on the slow side most days, they are well maintained, especially for a backyard nine. Hazards show up in the for of a large water hazard shared by multiple holes, and an especially deep sand trap near the end of your day. Cash is the only form of payment taken at Lakeview Par 3, since most days there is no staff in the pro shop, just an honor box to collect your daily fees. While it may not be a championship course, a visit to Lakeview will not be regretted.

Camas Meadows Golf Club

Camas Meadows Golf Club, near Vancouver, WA, provides one of the best overall golf experiences of Portland’s metro area. From its natural environment and sophisticated design down to the golf carts equipped with ProLink GPS, Camas Meadows is a first-rate course from top to bottom. As you cruise the serene country setting, the touch-screen GPS system will tell you the exact yardage of every relevant point ahead including hazards, landing zones, the pin, and also the golfers in front of you. Aside from this useful system, which even allows you to order food or report a missing club, you will want the service of the four wheels beneath, as Camas Meadows is widely spread throughout the rolling terrain. In numerous ways, it’s a luxury to navigate this exemplary Northwest track.

Camas Meadows is a championship style course, yet very short; a comprising attribute for the casual golfer seeking quality golf. Beyond that, difficulty shows its face in many forms with an abundance of challenges. Lined with towering evergreens, dispersed with water hazards, long-grassed meadows and bunkers, and exposed to other unplayable and protected areas, the course is tight and hazardous. A few holes are scorable with a risk-and-reward setup, but many demand a management approach of smart play and solid execution. The greens are as well built as the rest of the course, and can be very fast and difficult to read. The back 9 includes a number of holes that are lined with high-end real estate, which is the only detraction from the natural beauty here. Camas Meadows offers some nice territorial views, including a head-on shot of Mt. Hood from the 9th hole.

The facilities at Camas Meadows Golf Glub have the whole package. The driving range provides grass hitting during golf season, and heated & covered mat hitting for ideal winter practice. Their range & teaching facility is located across the street from their clubhouse. This divides up the foot traffic between patrons looking to golf from those there to practice. There is a big putting green near the first tee, good for getting a feel for the subtle and slippery breaks found here. The clubhouse includes a big pro shop with merchandise, as well as a full bar & grill.