The End Zone
A famous quote from Mark Twain states “golf is a good walk spoiled.”
As the summer wears on, I’m starting to think there’s more and more truth to the statement — just substitute “cart ride” for “walk.”
Tuesday marked the second round of an effort from myself and Bellevue Reporter sports writer (and fellow amateur) Joel Willits to experience some of the top golf courses the Eastside has to offer. We reviewed Newcastle earlier this month.
The obstacle this time around: Eagle’s Talon at Willow’s Run, a 6,876-yard course, featuring four par-5s, 10 par-4s and four par-3s.
Located on the outskirts of Redmond, in the middle of the Sammamish Valley, the course presents an immediate challenge with a par-4, 350-yard hole. The layout sounds simple enough, but the narrowest fairway on the course calls for accuracy — a skill that apparently disappeared after my two-week hiatus from the links. Hole No. 1 drew my only double-digit performance of the day, even after using my one mulligan.
Despite a rather rancid performance on the first hole, I was able to calm down and enjoy the remaining 17. Returning to that much-needed zen wasn’t too difficult as Eagle’s Talon weaves you through a peaceful wetland area with plenty of nature to soak in. The course has 11 water hazards, several trees and a considerable host of wildlife — including herons, geese and ducks.
On the front nine, the 319-yard hole No. 8 provided one of the biggest challenges, with water on both sides of the fairway. A 200-yard drive in the middle of the fairway allows the perfect setup for a second shot to the green, which sits behind water and a bunker.
The front nine plays long on the first six holes with five par-4s and one par-5, and ends with two par-3s on the final three holes.
The back nine starts off with two par-5s on No. 10 and 11. Several of the final nine play along a construction area on the back side of the course, including No. 12 and 13. Fortunately, course rules allow a free drop if you veer too far left — a luxury I got to take advantage of once or twice. The final two holes topped my list. Hole No. 17, a 155-yard, par-3, requires a tee shot over about 100 yards of water. The design doesn’t allow any room to play to the sides and, with the large body of water, it gives the appearance of an island green. Hole No. 18 is the longest on the course at 555 yards from the white tees. The green is surrounded by a body of water containing a fountain. The hole is also credited with my luckiest series of shots of the day. I skipped my third shot across water, off a rock and upward into a bunker. The ensuing bunker shot sailed over the green, bounced off a rock on the cart path and back to the green (thank goodness, considering the parking lot lingered a few feet behind).
Eagle’s Talon provided a great overall experience. And I certainly can’t complain. My 107 was nine fewer strokes than my last outing, I pared three holes and hit three of the four par-3 greens. Also not to be forgotten, my record against Joel (117) is now 2-0 — sorry man, I couldn’t leave that part out.
Along with Eagle’s Talon, Willow’s Run offers up another 18-hole course in Coyote Creek. It also has a nine-hole, par-3 course called Heron Links and an 18-hole Northwest-themed putting course called Rainbow Ridge. Summer rates are very reasonable for 18 holes at $43 Monday-Thursday and $56 on weekends. Carts are an additional $15 per rider. There are also exceptional twilight rates during the week that begin dropping by midday. Cost falls to $37 after 1 p.m., $31 after 3 p.m. and $24 after 5 p.m. The same rates apply to weekends, except after 1 p.m., when the cost is $43. Special rates are also available for women, seniors and juniors.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for a little bit of wilderness and a challenging course at an affordable rate — all within a close proximity, give Willow’s Run a go.
WILLOWS RUN GOLF COURSE
Courses: 2, Eagle’s Talon and Coyote Creek
Other amenities: 9-hole, par 3 course; 18-hole putting course; driving range; practice greens; pro shop; Fire Creek Grill & Bar.
Rates: $43 M-T, $56 F-S; special twilight rates are available seven days a week and discounts are available for seniors, juniors and ladies. Log to on www.willowsrun.com for more information.