21200 NE Sahalee Country Club Drive,
Washington (WA) 98074,
- +1 (0) 425 868 8800
5 miles SE of Redmond on E edge of Lake Sammamish
Members and their guests only
Sahalee Country Club played host to the 1998 PGA Championship and the 2002 World Golf Championship so it goes without saying that Sahalee is championship calibre.
Sahalee is set on the Sammamish Plateau to the southeast of Redmond and is the result of a meeting of minds between members of Inglewood Country Club and Broadmoor Golf Club who decided Greater Seattle should have another championship course. Ted Robinson was the chosen architect and the championship-ready course was opened for play in the late 1960s. After much debate, the name Sahalee was chosen which means "High Heavenly Ground" in the tongue of the Chinook Indians.
Rees Jones remodeled the North and South loops in 1996 and these 18 holes are used when Sahalee is presented in its championship livery. The 17th hole is set amongst the trees and is surrounded by water. During the 1998 PGA event – the first major to be hosted in the Northwest since 1944 – Vijay Singh managed to rattle an 18 footer into the cup for a sandy par, which proved too much for playing partner Steve Stricker who could only manage a bogey. This gave Singh a two-shot cushion and was good enough to secure his first major title.
Sahalee was selected to host the 31st U.S. Senior Open in 2010 and Bernhard Langer's four round score of 272 (8 under par) was good enough to win the title by three shots from runner-up Fred Couples.
Sahalee (East and South played, then walked North) - Winter 20/21
This was my first experience of Pacific North West golf. I had seen the tree lined courses of this area and wanted to play them for many years. I recalled Sahalee from the PGA championship of 1998 and particularly, the narrow corridors carved through the dense Fir and Cedar trees.
I had read more recent reviews of the course and noted the penal nature of the layout and density of the vegetation. The first point of note is that it is clear Sahalee have been working extremely hard with ‘freeing up’ the lower reaches of the forests, through limbing of the lower branches and removal of a number of trees. This work now means that light travels much more easily between the trees and allows for sight lines to other parts of the course. It also makes grass growth more uniform across the property which had been a problem in recent times.
There were also a number of trees that caused controversy in the various high profile competitions held here. On the North course, holes 2 and 3 both had large trees situated in the fairway obstructing sight lines from portions of the fairway to the green. As they had grown, they had become unmanageable as an obstruction and the decision was recently made to take them out, partially down to them beginning to limit pin selection on the greens. Although an emotive topic within the club, I believe this was a great decision.
Our round was to be played over the East and South loops. I would then walk the North nine at the completion of the round. My first observation standing on East 1 was the height of the trees. I have never played a golf course where the forest was so tall. It certainly is an intimidating yet breathtaking spectacle. I think this sheer height of the trees is a crucial element that gives rise to that claustrophobic feeling standing on many of the tee boxes, that I have heard mentioned in other reviews. In reality, I paced a number of the landing areas out and they are much wider than they first appear from the tee. Depth perception can be difficult and this adds to the illusion that some of the trees are in play when they are not.
The East loop is the oldest at Sahalee and its main notable feature is the small, highly undulating greens. The standout hole was the Par 3 4th, an attractive hole backed by beautiful bushes of flora and fauna that I am assured, look remarkable in spring and early summer.
The South loop is the front nine of the championship course and I instantly recognised the view down the first fairway. This nine is a great mix of opportunities and tough holes, the first being one of the toughest out there. Number 2 is a risk reward par 5 famous for being the sight of Fred Couples demise in the 2010 US Seniors Open. It is a strong nine holes of golf of which there are many highlights. The Par 3 5th, the drive at the attractive 6th and the famously tough hole 8 all deserve special mention.
On to the North course, the back nine of the championship layout. The first hole is, essentially a perfect hole in my opinion. A left sweeping downhill par 4 with the green surrounded on 3 sides by water. This nine appears to undulate a little more and that extra undulation contributes to a number of special holes. This is displayed especially in the last 4 holes which are, in my opinion, one of the most intriguing and attractive finishing stretches of holes I have played.
Rees Jones is reputed to have a ongoing master plan for the course that includes more tree removal and the movement of a number of tee boxes. My summary of the course in its current state; it is a fair test where the hazards are clear to see. This sort of golf that curtails the players freedom from the tee is a brand I haven’t seen too much of in the USA. I personally think it is spectacular but understand that it is not to everyone’s taste. Each to their own, but with the continued path of improvement and dedication from the staff and the committee, I think Sahalee will be picked to host another major soon enough and it’s a major I’d like to watch.
I have been at the property on a few occasion -- both playing and in attending big time events hosted there.
The golf suffers mightily because of the INVASION of trees. Comments were already made on this front so suffice to say it's exasperating. It means little in terms of what positions to play for when you know you face the monotony in being archer-straight with little deviation.
The range of clear golf choices in the Pacific Northwest has grown considerably since Sahalee entered the picture. I am a fan of that part of America because the top tier golf choices of recent vintage are clearly superior.
I would challenge anyone completing play to remember the details of the holes played. They blend into one another and the trees are simply straight jacketing to the point of absurdity. The turf quality is very good but I would not return with clubs in hand unless someone told me a major tree cutting effort was in motion. And I'd have to see the photos to prove it.
M. James Ward
Narrow, the only word to describe Sahalee. If your tee shots aren't on point you gonna make your round really cost effective from a cost per stroke basis. That aside the course is good but not great. Nice but not over the top. A good place to play golf, a little crowded for a private course but they have 27 holes to accommodate that. Would I play here again Yes. Would I travel from afar to play here? This ones tricky although not a single aspect really amazed me, collectively Sahalee scored well, So I would say Yes.
Had the chance to play Sahalee on Wednesday and I had high expectations which were met by an awesome experience. Over the years, I've read both positive and negative reviews about Sahalee and it seems there is no real consensus among PNW's as to if its a top 100 course and the best in the area or just vastly overrated due to its name.
To start, I will say that the grounds around the clubhouse were probably the best manicured I have ever seen. It was PERFECT. My brother and I played the North 9 first and teed off on one which is a fantastic start. Straight away par four that is narrow with a pond around the green to get your nerves going right from the start. Number 2 was also memorable, the big fir tree that sits towards the end of the fairway is a huge obstacle and honestly probably needs to go, but it does make you think about your second shot. The remainder of the north side blended great par 4's with challenging tee shots and a gorgeous par 3 at number 8 (downhill tee shot with water in play). The final hole (par 5) gives you a chance for a birdie with a drive in the fairway. After playing nine holes, I can say that the routing was fantastic and the condition was second to none.
The south course continued the great experience. Number 1 was a straight away par 4 which was a solid starting hole. You can hammer driver and have a very short approach, but the prudent play is to hit something shorter. The one thing I will say about the south course is that the holes did seem to blend together a bit and none of them really stuck out to me. None the less, I cannot reiterate enough the conditioning of the course was ridiculous. Green and lush, greens were perfect and pretty quick although the member I played with said they are even faster in the summer.
I can't honestly see many courses being better than Sahalee in the PNW. If there are, than they will get a 5 (eagle) from me as well.
I doubt seriously I will ever have the answer. It's a fun day of golf and the courses are really nice I just believe they could be so much better. We played 27 and while it was a great day, I wouldn't return to play again if my friend weren't a member.
I invited my friend Larry, who lives in Seattle, to play the South and North nines, which are the courses rated for the Top 100. As we crossed Lake Washington, we could see the home of Bill Gates being built on the shore. Massive is the word that comes to mind. It was a typical wet northwestern day, and even when it wasn’t sprinkling, the course was soaked and produced no roll. It was an uneventful day, except for the fact that Sahalee was my 50th course. Next course I’d be on the back 50. Larry Berle.