White Horse Golf Club opened in 2007 but it quickly ran into financial difficulties and was taken over soon after by the operators of the Suquamish Clearwater Resort and Casino, located eleven miles south of the golf course.
Head Professional Bruce Christy takes up the story for us with this exclusive quote:
We have been blessed to have had two amazing course architects that created a stunning golf venue for all to enjoy. Cynthia Dye was an amazing architect and a real visionary. Her work was scripted from what the original course owner envisioned.
Albeit he was not an avid golfer, Bob Screen insisted on having the toughest golf course around and when it opened in June 15, 2007 the course slope and rating from the back tees was an astounding 75.9 rating and 139 slope.
It was a true masterpiece and the raters and better players loved how it was such a challenge. After the first couple of years the novelty began to wear off as it was just too tough for the average player and high handicappers didn’t enjoy losing so many balls.
The original owner ran out of money and not being able to aerify the golf course made a difficult layout with rock hard greens nearly impossible to enjoy. He lost the course, declaring bankruptcy, and the Suquamish Clearwater Casino and Resort purchased it, bringing in Touchstone Golf from California to manage the place.
One of their first priorities was to “soften” the course and make it more enjoyable for players of all skill levels. In searching out architects, the natural and obvious choice was the late John Harbottle, due to his familiarity with the Pacific Northwest.
John’s thoughts were to not to infringe on the great work that Cynthia had done, but to moderate some of the severe edges and remove 68 of the original 145 bunkers that only impeded the average and high handicappers.
He also added new tee boxes on a couple of the par three holes and took down a few hundred trees that were hindering the wind from circulating through the trees. The tall wavy fescue was cut back from the bunker edges and retreated to the edge of the course.
With a modified course, annual aerification plan and strong ownership in place, the golfers came back and many can be counted as return players due to the re-design. This June we are hosting the LPGA Legends Cup tournament at White Horse and this is a true testament to the vision of both architects.