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 US 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.
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.