White Horse Golf Club was modified to make it easier, but it still presents a good challenge.

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In part eight of this series reviewing golf courses around the region, Seattle Times golf writer Scott Hanson and golf writer emeritus Craig Smith go across Puget Sound to play White Horse Golf Club outside Kingston.


When Craig suggested we review White Horse Golf Club, I had some very mixed emotions.

White Horse has hosted some state championships and this past summer’s LPGA Legends event, which I helped cover, so I realized that it made sense. A lot of golfers have heard of White Horse but haven’t played it.

But it was also the place where I nearly retired from the game. About seven years ago, I was playing so poorly there with friends that I decided to retire from the game after the 11th hole. I was worse that day than when I had first started playing nearly 30 years earlier, and I was done.

But I didn’t have a car with me, and my friends weren’t taking me to the ferry until they were done. So I continued, figuring I would never play again after finishing the miserable round. But no longer caring suddenly elevated my game. The retirement remains on hold.

With Craig’s prodding, I decided to face my demons and play White Horse again.

First thoughts

Hanson: Course knowledge here is more important than at most courses. I think I will do much better next time, knowing the best places to miss and which parts of the green you need to hit.

Smith: Challenging, upscale course. Fun getaway involving a ferry ride.

The good

Hanson: White Horse still has a reputation for being tough, even after undergoing modifications, but it’s fair. We played the combination of blue and white tees that was on the scorecard, and I scored terribly the first three holes and the last three holes because I hit bad shots, which had nothing to do with the course. The middle 12 holes I played in 12 over, which for me is cause for rejoicing. So, although I didn’t get complete revenge, I didn’t suffer. And even if my attitude turned sour, the happy-hour deals at the restaurant would have likely changed my mood. Examples: $2.75 for select draft beers, including one micro, $3 glasses of wine, and some appealing food specials, such as three tasty pulled-pork sliders for $3.50.

Smith: Final hole, a par-4 with water on the left and good viewing from clubhouse, is a gem. … Fine range where you hit off grass at good targets. … No noise except golfers on most holes. … Tribal-owned course, and the older I get the more I like the signs over some spaces in the parking lot that declare “Suquamish Tribal Elder Parking Only.” Shows respect.

The bad

Hanson: Some of the bunkers could use more rakes. On one very large bunker, there was just one rake, which only added to my pain after I was unable to get out of it with my first shot. … Even using the mapping app on my phone, we still took a few wrong turns in getting to the course because signage to the course is inadequate.

Smith: Not a good walking course because of long treks between five holes. … No course map on the scorecard and this is a course where you need a map on some holes if you haven’t played it before. Instead, yardage book is for sale in pro shop.

Miscellany

Hosted Suquamish Clearwater Legends Cup, a stop on LPGA Legends (senior) Tour in June. Tournament will return in 2019. … Course was ridiculously tough when opened in 2007. One bunker had a tree in front of it. In the 2010  Washington State Amateur, some golfers ran out of golf balls in early rounds. Winner Jeremy Wendelken was only golfer under par after four rounds. … Cynthia Dye McGarey was the original designer. Major redesign by late Tacoma golf architect John Harbottle III removed nearly half of the 137 bunkers and made course much more playable. … Redesign took place after Suquamish Tribe purchased course. … Tribe also had the large, lovely Northwest-style clubhouse built. … Course offers free transportation between Kingston ferry dock and course from 7:10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. daily for golfers who walk on the ferry. … Reputation as a dry course in wet weather. … Course is 10 miles from Clearwater Casino Resort and offers “stay-and-play” packages.

Quote of the day

“That’s a good drive — if you’re a third-grader.” — Smith, after a mishit tee shot traveled about 120 yards.

Rating (from 1 to 4)

Hanson: 3. This is a course you should play, and the price is good for its level. It’s also a good excuse for a fun ferry ride.

Smith: 3 1/2. One of the best public courses in the state.

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White Horse Golf Club

22795 Three Lions Pl NE, Kingston, WA 98346; (360) 297-4468

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.