Laid out on high ground above the Cle Elum River, the spectacular 18-hole Tumble Creek mountain golf course is an understated Tom Doak layout that’s situated next to Suncadia Resort’s 36-hole golf complex.
Members and guests of the private Tumble Creek community enjoy privileged access to the four star resort and its two public 18-hole courses: “Prospector,” Arnold Palmer’s 2004 offering and the Jim Hardy/Peter Jacobson-designed “Rope Rider,” which opened in 2012.
In true minimalistic Tom Doak-style, very little earth was moved during construction of the course, except at the 450-yard 5th, which doglegs left down into a valley. On the back nine, back-to-back par fives precede the 405-yard 16th, a par four that veers past water on the left of the fairway to a green that’s heavily protected by sand on its right side.
Located 80 miles east of Seattle, Suncadia Resort is a Washington State Resort that features comfortable accommodation and a wide variety of outdoor activities including biking, hiking and golf.
There are three golf courses at Suncadia: Prospector by Arnold Palmer and Rope Rider by Jacobsen Hardy are both public access courses. The third course in a gated community adjacent to Suncadia is Tumble Creek designed by Tom Doak. Tumble Creek opened for play in 2005.
Let's hear from Tom Doak:
"Tumble Creek is the private side of Suncadia, just across the Cle Elum River from the resort lodge.
Even with 450 home sites inside its gates, the natural beauty of the property and the elbow room we were given by the developer allowed for a golf course that doesn’t feel the least bit crowded by homes.
The golf course sprawls across 400 acres, with big views of the river and the mountains to the west framed by the evergreen trees that line its ample fairways.
Though the setting is much different, we decided to style the features after the best parkland courses of the East, with classic tilted greens and tight bunkering that doesn’t try to compete with the landscape.
When the winds pick up in the afternoon, the course can be quite testing, so it is often used for U.S. Open qualifiers."
Tumble Creek is set in a beautiful mountain setting, with dramatic elevation changes, holes framed by pine trees, and snow capped mountains as the backdrop. It is a beautiful place to be!
I am a fan of TD's work and Tumble Creek is no exception. It may not rank be in Tom's best 5 courses, but only because of the quality of the competition, and truth be told, perhaps the lack of sea views .
The mandate was to build a playable members course, and it is a job well done. It is a course I could play over and over. Very little dirt was moved in constructing the course which looks natural in it's setting. It is perhaps one of the more subtle courses that Tom has done, but is not without interest.
I like a designer to require a player to make decisions, but not give nasty surprises. This course fits the bill The bunkering was strategically placed, eye catching without being gaudy, and one of the real strengths of the design.
The greens have movement, but were subtle enough and a little hard to read at times with all the slopes in the surrounds confounding us a little.
I am a lover of decision making short par 4's and Tom Doak is forging a reputation in this arena. A number of his courses around the world feature them- it's becoming an imposing list. Tumble Creek has some rippers!
Something I have not seen before but which appeals to me and makes perfect sense is the teeing options. Tumble Creek has multiple tees for men, and a ladies tee. The card also delineates a "Doak course" where Tom has made suggestions on which tee to play on each hole. This is the card I followed for the day.
Sometimes I was off the championship tee, and sometimes off the ladies! BUT I had to make a lot of decisions along the way which may not have been the case playing of the 'normal' mens tees .
As an example: On the short par 4 third playing off the forward tees the hole was nearly reachable for me if I took on all of the trouble, whereas off the mens tee I would have played wide of the trouble and had a wedge in without any real concerns..
Similarly on the par 5 fifteenth my tee was now forward enough for me to seriously consider carrying the water rather than laying up.. It's a concept I would like to see taken up more often .
Tom Doak likes to frame his holes, or have a focal point for them. At Tumble Creek the snow capped mountains were given that role. Tom also likes to show you where you are going.
Discreet gaps in the pines at the appropriate spot on the inside of the dogleg gave glimpses of the flags on a couple of holes. That is good design in my opinion
The front nine is predominantly on the higher ground and has some lovely movement throughout (bar the 8th which is almost dead flat). But even that hole was appreciated for the way the mountain backdrop was incorporated into the design, with the pines and bunkering framing the hole. And the tricky little green was a nice finish
The back nine starts high, and then winds down into the river valley where there are some pretty holes with water in play to keep you on your toes.
Tumble Creek is an impressive course in idyllic surroundings. That is one gated community who should be pretty pleased with themselves. It is a great spot and they have a really nice members course.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review
When my home course hosted a pro tournament Tumble Creek was one the list of courses I could play at. Before that day I never heard of this place. But Damm, Golf heaven. Quiet and undisturbed arrived half and hour late, as a non-member no problems the staff treated me like royalty. Beautiful track excellent service and immaculate conditions.