The course at Canterwood Golf & Country Club is, like many, affiliated with the residential neighborhood that exists between its fairways. Unlike many institutions of a similar nature, however, is the fortunate native flora of the Pacific Northwest. Many of the homes will remain blocked throughout the round because of the magnificent Douglas Firs that grow naturally in the region.
Perhaps that’s a win for the average golfer from an aesthetics standpoint, but they must understand that the existence of such trees contributes to further challenge in the playing of the game: Those who are wayward from the tee will often find themselves requiring additional shots in order to get to the green. This demand for accuracy does not mean that the club suffers for length; at nearly 7,200 yards, Canterwood requires significant focus from the tees. Robert Muir Graves built the course during 1988, and the course is a testament to the demanding nature expected of championship courses during the day.
No. 9 is an exception in its open corridor from the tee. That said, the challenge lies in deciding whether to lay up straight ahead or try booming it over a pond that protects the corner on this short, 90-degree par four.
Canterwood is a classic Pacific Northwest golf course framed by towering pines and notable elevation change. The course sits in a gated neighborhood in the upscale Gig Harbor area and every hole is surrounded by houses or condominiums.
1st (Par 5): A long dog leg right with a back to front sloping green protected by water on the left. A par is a good score to set the tone for the round.
2nd (Par 4): This hole has been enhanced by the recent tree removal project. It is a fun par 4 that calls for an accurate tee shot and a second shot to an elevated green. You can play the steep right to left slope that juts off the right side of the green.
3rd (Par 3): This uphill par three plays to a skinny blind green. I find that stopping the ball on the green is difficult and the imposing houses make this hole intimidating for those with a right miss.
4th (Par 4): This is a quirky tee shot with water short, left, and right. The amount of water is not abundantly clear until you cross the footbridge ahead. If you can catch the large mound on the right side of the fairway, you will be left with a short approach to a lengthy and elevated green.
5th (Par 4): This is a straightforward par 4 with bunkers on either side of the fairway acting as the Maine defense. This is the first great scoring opportunity on the course.
6th (4/5): This hole has grown on me over the years. The hole plays with a steep drop off left and thick vegetation right for the length of the hole. Two excellent shots are required, making it no mystery that this is the #1 handicap.
7th (Par 3): This is a fun par three over water that serves as the yang to the yin from hole 6.
8th (Par 5): This dog leg right takes a 90 degree right turn which makes this a three-shot hole for even the long hitters. An accurate and correct distance is required off the tee to set up the next shot. This hole has perhaps the most dynamic green on the course.
9th (Par 4): This hole is drivable for long hitters who can cut the corner over the largest pond on the course. It becomes one of the most challenging holes on the course for those who play it as a two-shot hole. Water right calls for an accurate tee ball and an uphill second that often plays into the wind makes for a difficult 2nd into a tiered green.
10th (Par 4): The centerline tree on this whole is where the club derives its logo. The tree asks the golfer to play it right or left; left leaving a shorter and safer approach into a canted green.
11th (Par 4): This risk reward par 4 has a belt of bunkers with wispy grass across the fairway. Long hitters can cover the hole for a short approach. Those who lay back have a mid iron into a lengthy green.
12th (Par 3): This is a fun shot, but again, this par 3 has a very skinny green that slopes intensely off the back and right.
13th (Par 4): The fairway on this par for has a steep slant from left to right. An approach from the fairway will be rewarded by this welcoming green. Shots that leak right will face a difficult lie and trees guarding the green.
14th (Par 5): This is one of the best holes on the course and it begins a huge downhill stretch for the next two holes. Off the tee you are faced with the widest fairway on the course, but the intended landing area is actually smaller than anticipated. A great drive makes this reachable in two as the hole careens down hill to a large green complex.
15th (Par 4): This fun hole requires an accurate tee shot that will run out even in wet conditions. Avoiding the fairway bunkers will allow for a tricky approach to a large green that is protected by bunkers and water right. The slope of the hole makes this a fun and quirky test.
16th (Par 4): This hole is protected by water short and right making it a demanding tee shot. The narrow corridors and uphill approach make this formidable hole where par is an excellent score.
17th (Par 3): This downhill and short par three has many fun pin locations. Pinned on the right brings water into play off the back of the green. This hole is a nice reset before the difficult closing hole.
18th (Par 5): This hole calls for a fade off the tee in order to set up an uphil 2nd shot. The elevated green (one of the biggest on the course) is heavily protected by deep bunkers and members enjoying the 19th. This hole makes for a great opportunity to swing a match in your favor down the stretch.
This course has improved over time. Objective tree removal and a greens committee that embraces the challenge of the course has created a firm test of championship golf. If you are not keen on playing among houses and mansions, this course will simply be frustrating. The conditioning is, however, immaculate year-round.
When you compare it to the other golf available in the area, this course may disappoint, however it remains a stiff test for any skill level.