The Home Course in DuPont, WA
Tee Time: May 18, 2013, 2:24, 61 F, calm
Designer: Mike Asmundson (2007)
Playing Partners: CJ Phelan, Pat Spomer
Tees: Blue, Par 72 (72.4 rating/135 slope/6,629 yards)
Course Handicap: 14 (11.6 index)
Stats: 90 (45-45); 39 putts; 7/14 fairways; 5/18 greens; 1 penalty stroke
The Championship Experience weekend began with a mad dash in the Chevy Impala to the Home Course in DuPont, Washington. Fortunately, they were accomadating enough to push our tee time back twenty minutes and allow us to get a meal and warmup in. The drive out is pretty enough, and the road up to the clubhouse feels like something belonging to a high end country club instead of one of the more affordable courses available to the public. The Home Course serves as the base for the Washington State Golf Association, and it will be an impressive clubhouse area once all the offices are built. For now the restaurant is standing but the snack bar and pro shop are in trailers. The real treat is being out on the course. Vibrant colors are everywhere. The ocean blues of the Puget Sound in the distance. The forest greens of the fir and maple trees lining the course. And then there’s the Scotch broom. The stuff is everywhere. Apparently it is a noxious invasive weed that is a major problem for the local vegetation. The yellow dominates the scene like a Golden State Warriors playoff game, but unlike the fans’ “Believe” shirts, these flowers are guaranteed to be around every spring.
The Home Course presents two nines, the DuPont followed by the Weyerhaeuser. The course begins with a dogleg left par 4, with tall trees to the left and open area to the front. A tee shot to the center of the fairway 150 yards out will give a nice look hitting down into the green and the three pot bunkers dotting the front left. The bunkers here are deep; shorter people will disappear from view in them. But thankfully the sand is very soft and fluffy, making it much easier to dig in underneath and pop it up. The 367-yard 2nd plays to the right and down to another guarded green. Starting with a dogleg left and dogleg right is kind of them, that way if you only have one shot shape you’ll at least hit one fairway to start the day. The 3rd is the most well protected green of the opening par 4’s, with one massive pot bunker lining most of the green’s real estate at the front. The first par 3, the 191-yard 4th is a tough one to get to. The peanut shaped green bulges in the middle and anything coming with speed will roll away. The first par 5 is three good shots to reach. Staying on the right line is important at the 5th or the lush maple trees will take a shot away. The 186-yard 6th is another tough green if the pin is anywhere to the front. A deep bunker swallows up any attempts to run an approach on, and the quick back-to-front slope makes a two-putt from the back difficult. Water makes an appearance at the beautiful par-4 7th. The starter will warn you not to carry too much of the fairway or risk bouncing into the lake, but too conservative a tee shot will leave almost 200 yards downhill over water and that’s never fun. An uphill par 5 starts the climb back to the clubhouse with 520 sloped yards to a wicked green that’s the closest thing there is in golf to a half-pipe. The surface coming off the bunker in the front rolls everything to the right side and another mound to the back kicks everything back to the right. I bet if the greens were fast enough, you could putt a ball down one slope and it may never stop rolling back and forth. The 9th is a gnarly, dogleg left par 4 with 390 yards to a sunken green. Again, those maple trees can be a pain for anyone coming in from the right.
The closing Weyerhaeuser nine starts with the first hole that can really wreck your round. All along the left side the course slopes sharply off into thick forest where balls vanish. If you’re hitting them straight, reaching in two is an option at this par 5. You can recover at the short par-4 11th. It is drivable, but there is a nasty fairway bunker placed in the landing zone directly in line with the green. Carry that bunker and the slope will give a generous bounce and chance at putting for eagle. A long par 3 offers little challenge except for the incoming wind that can make you club up a little at 12. The wind comes into play again at 13, a long 430 yards. The 15th and 16th holes are different than anywhere else on the course. The par-4 15th routes around two large manmade hills concealing the bygone explosive manufacturing era this site used to belong to in the 1900s. The artificial mounds at 16 help make this green reachable in two and the best chance for an eagle at the Home Course. Catch that mound’s slope 80 yards from the green and take a ride to the dance floor. The 17th is dependent on the wind. If it’s absent, then at 336 yards it’s a great chance to score with a wedge or short iron. If any breeze is coming in off the Puget Sound, things can get dicey. Summon up all your remaining strength for the longest par 4 on the golf course, the 440-yard finale, a dogleg right up over a ridge and down to another tricky green.
The Home Course assisted Chambers Bay with hosting duties during the 2010 U.S. Amateur, and it certainly is a site worthy of the honor. While not particularly challenging from the tee, the course can bite on approach shots and especially with the short game. The greens are among the toughest in the Pacific Northwest, with tricky reads and varying speeds. I would lean toward letting the putts leak to the ocean, but the ridges from the deep pot bunkers are also in play. I really liked the little conveniences here. The 150-yard stakes have red, white or blue caps that signal the pin’s location, instead of having to memorize a pin sheet. Every hole with a blind tee shot has a two-story staircase to look out over the horizon and make sure the group ahead of you doesn’t get a reason to kick your ball around. And I can’t really pinpoint the exact reason, maybe it was the lavender, the flowering fir trees or just the fact that the air in Washington is so much fresher than the biohazard that is the Phoenix valley, but this is the nicest smelling golf course I’ve ever been on.
#14, Par 3, 177 yards, 14-handicap, My Score: 4
Rhododendrons. Pronouncing the name of this beautiful par 3 isn’t the only challenge. There is water on three sides of this green and a bunker on the fourth. In short, don’t miss. The front right can maybe hold, but anything long will run off the back and will be a tough chip if you’re lucky, a lateral hazard if you’re not. The hill visible behind the green is nicely manicured with colorful vegetation and makes for a great spot to watch what I’m sure will be many regional tournaments that are staged at the Home Course.
Layout: B+; all the doglegs to the left and right keep you on your toes from the tee. There is significant elevation change on many holes and many of the pot bunkers are placed in great locations to ruin a score. There’s a reason this place has a slope rating of 135 from the middle tees.
Amenities: B-; this will be a higher grade when the facilities are complete. Until then, the practice areas are great and all the little things along the golf course make the round flow much smoother, such as those lookout staircases. And gas carts, gotta love those gas carts.
Staff: A; a friendly, accommodating staff is ready to do their best to let you enjoy your round.
Difficulty: B; the greens and sand traps make accuracy a priority. Even the fairways can be tricky if you get too many off balance lies.
Scenery: A; gorgeous scenery for 360 degrees here. You can see into the Puget Sound from many holes and the evergreen forest surrounding the region is amazing to take in. I am told there is also a great view of Mt. Rainier to the east, but that might be for those 30 or so clear days in the Cascades, we got one of the other 330 overcast days.
Value: A; only $50 for a non-resident in May? You’d have to pay upwards of $200 in Arizona for the same experience, and even then, all you’d see is a cactus and maybe a jumping cholla. Jump on this deal before they realize they can charge more.
Overall GPA: 3.5 (A-); the Home Course is in a good location and at a great value, might as well try to play 36 or more here.