Don't judge a course by its front nine: Two holes on the back half steal the show at Auburn Golf Course — for a good value, too.
In part four of this series reviewing golf courses around the region, Seattle Times golf writer Scott Hanson and golf writer emeritus Craig Smith head south to Auburn Golf Course, which provides not only good value but an interesting back nine.
There were a few pre-round bumps (Craig missed a road sign and was temporarily going the wrong way, and Scott asked Craig to take the cart to the first tee, which was impossible with the key in Scott’s pocket), but the day got better, and the golf course also got better as we went along.
Hanson: If we had played a couple of hours earlier, there were special online rates at less than $20 per player, and I was interested to see what kind of golf you could get for that price. What I found was a well-maintained course (even the trees and bushes that line the holes have been manicured nicely), with enough good holes and enough of a challenge to make me want to come back, even if they didn’t have a great choice of draft beers at their restaurant.
Smith: Attractive clubhouse that includes Bogey’s Public House restaurant and marvelous, tall fireplace. Nice setting on opposite side of road from Green River, but the river isn’t part of the course.
Hanson: If you compare this course with others in the same price range, it’s a standout in the summer (the course can get pretty muddy in the winter). The first eight holes are nothing special, but because they are flat (nice for walkers) and not overly difficult, they give players a chance to get their game ready for a more interesting, challenging and hilly back nine. No. 15 (with tee shots going over the cliff) and No. 16, a difficult par-3 with a pair of waterfalls (Craig hit a shot into the base of one), is a great two-hole stretch. The course was difficult enough to be challenging, but not so tough that I was cursing it afterward.
Smith: Some affordable off-peak pricing. Back nine includes some memorable hillside holes and par-3 16th hole over a pond with an artificial waterfall. Greens were in good shape and some were quite challenging but fair. Nice landscaping touches throughout the course. It’s a municipal course, and it is obvious the city of Auburn values it. Steep, downhill tee shot on “The Cliff Hole,” par-4, No. 15 is the kind of fun, scenic shot you mention to friends. Nice restaurant, but no one in our foursome left raving about the food.
Hanson: Not having a driving range is a bummer (even though it’s a good excuse for a wayward tee shot on the first hole), and there were a few fairways that need a bit more care, but I wasn’t expecting it to be Augusta National. The first eight holes are not very interesting, and if you were only playing nine (the front nine), the experience would be much different from what we had. I wasn’t a big fan of my chicken and shrimp street tacos (way too dry), but Bogey’s was still a fun place to hang out.
Smith: First eight holes are basically vanilla. No range but there is a teaching area. Huge power lines cross the course. Can be a difficult course to find if you aren’t familiar with Kent-Auburn area.
Quotes of the day
“This has to be the most inviting driving hole we’ll see all day,” Smith, while standing on the No. 7 tee, seconds before snap-hooking his drive into one of the few trees.
“I’m not slicing, and it’s throwing my game off,” Hanson, midway through the back nine, when another straight shot left him left off the green.
Rating (from 1 to 4)
Hanson: 2 1/2. The front nine is closer to a 2, and the back nine is closer to a 3. The rating would be even better if the criteria was courses in the same price range.
Smith: 2 1/2, with back nine carrying the load.
29630 Green River Road S.E., Auburn, WA 98092; 253-833-2350
Scott Hanson has been covering golf for The Seattle Times since 2005; Craig Smith covered golf for decades for The Seattle Times before retiring in 2008.