The next day after our game at Gozzer Ranch we had a tee time at The Golf Club at Black Rock. This course came onto the list a couple of years after I started my Top 100 quest and I had heard really good things about it. As I mentioned in my Gozzer Ranch profile I had been holding out to make the trip to Idaho until I was nearing the end of my quest in the event a second Coeur d’Alene course made the list. It’s a long way from Virginia to the panhandle of Idaho and I didn’t want to have to make that trip twice if another nearby course came onto the list before I completed my quest. As I also mentioned in my profile of Gozzer Ranch, my buddy Keith who is also on a Top 100 quest put together a trip to Idaho and invited me to tag along which worked out great for me as I didn’t have many contacts in northwest Idaho. I love it when things work out like that!
The Golf Club at Black Rock is about a 20 minute drive from downtown Coeur d’Alene so we set out with our directions to find the club. Believe it or not our instructions actually included a direction to “turn at the elk farm” . . . that’s a new one. Of course we got turned around and ended up at the service entrance for the club and had to call to ask them to open the gate. Sadly, this is something that has happened to me more times than I care to admit over the years.
Once we arrived at the club we checked in with the pro shop and went outside to meet our caddie. From there we headed down to the practice tee for a few warm up swings and then it was off to the 1st tee. The teeing options at Black Rock are interesting and it took me a minute to figure out how the scorecard was set up. There are basically four sets of tees, but there are an additional three tees that are combinations made up of the original four. I was a little confused but Keith and J figured it out right away and I just followed their lead. We decided to play what is called the Black Rock Course which is 6,757 yards and plays to a par of 72
Hole 1 – 375 Yards – Par 4
The course starts out with a nice downhill tee shot to a fairly wide open fairway. The ideal way to play the hole is to favor the right side so that the approach shot will not be blocked out by the trees in the crook of the dogleg.
Here is a view of the approach shot into the green.
And a view of the unusually shaped green. This would not be the last time we saw unique shapes on this golf course.
Hole 2 – 171 Yards – Par 3
A nice little one shot hole that plays just slightly downhill.
This green had a big of movement in it although with the hole at the front of the green it didn’t really come into play for us.
Hole 3 – 611 Yards – Par 5
Whoa . . . where do we hit it here? This tee shot was very confusing from the tee box and you really have to trust the caddie for the line if you have never played here before.
Once we got into the fairway it was much easier to understand the hole and I think I would do better with my drive the second time around. Below is the approach shot into the green.
Hole 4 – 363 Yards – Par 4
This shortish par 4 begins from an elevated tee box. The bunkers on the right are in play for shorter hitters, but a long ball will carry all the way out to the point where the fairway begins to turn back to the left.
Avoid the right side of this green as it is almost certain death.
Hole 5 – 556 Yards – Par 5
This three shot hole plays downhill from the tee and right back uphill on the next two shots. I don’t believe the waste area is reachable from the tee. It was not an issue for anyone in our group. Note the signature Jim Engh style bunker on the left side of the fairway and up by the green.
Bombers can attack the green from this angle, but the safe play is to lay up to the right side in the fairway.
Here is a view back down the hole from behind the green.
Hole 6 – 404 Yards – Par 4
Here we have a stout par 4 with a nice wide open and inviting fairway.
The bunkers in front of the green are deep and should be avoided at all costs. Note the cool little bowl on the right side of the green. When the flag it over there it brings the water running down the right side of the hole into play.
Here is a view of the green from up above.
Hole 7 – 194 Yards – Par 3
Next we have a lengthy par 3 with a large green and another of Jim Engh’s signature bunkers in the front.
Here is a look at the very interesting shaped green with its three distinct sections.
Hole 8 – 567 Yards – Par 5
One thing there is no shortage of at Black Rock is beautiful views from the tee boxes. With a few extra yards from the downhill this hole will be reachable in two for longer hitters.
The third shot into the 8th green.
Hole 9 – 201 Yards – Par 3
The closing hole of the front nine is another lengthy par 3. Its worth noting that the routing at Black Rock is an interesting one with three par 3s, three par 4s and three par 5s on the front side. There is some additional quirk on the back nine as well.
Hole 10 – 351 Yards – Par 4
At the turn we decided to move up to the copper tees as none of us were setting the course on fire. It was a little cool and damp too so we used that as an excuse for why our balls weren’t flying as far as “normal” From the copper tees this hole plays as a short par 4 and the ideal shot is a draw that goes about 220 yards.
A good drive will leave a short iron or wedge into this narrow green that is sloped from back to front.
I wasn’t kidding when I said narrow. This thing is like a bowling alley!
Hole 11 – 362 Yards – Par 4
Another gorgeous view from the tee box on the 11th hole. This is a shortish par 4 and the green is 90 degrees to the left from the fairway, so the ideal place to be is right in the middle of that fairway or maybe favoring the left side.
The approach shot into the green is an interesting one. It was only a 100 yard shot, but with the stone outcroppings it makes the shot a little more visually intimidating.
Here is a look at the green from the back side of the hole. Front hole locations will be very difficult for players who hit their approach shots to the back of the green.
Hole 12 – 538 Yards – Par 5
Here we have a par 5 that plays from an elevated tee box and the heads back uphill and bends to the left. The bunkers on the left are in play from the tee.
A look from the left side of the fairway about 120 yards out.
I noticed these interesting tracks as we got closer to the green. Apparently there was a rather large elk that crossed the fairway here. I can’t imagine what kind of damage this would do to a green. Thats a whole different set of problems the grounds crew has to worry about out here in these remote western states.
Another signature style bunker on the right front of the green.
Hole 13 – 138 Yards – Par 3
Here we have a pretty little drop shot par 3. What cannot be seen beyond the right edge of the photo below is that Lake Coeur d’Alene is right there as well. This was the last time we saw the lake from the course.
Hole 14 – 144 Yards – Par 3
As I mentioned earlier there is some interesting quirk to the routing on the back nine as well with the two par 3s being back to back. This green is as wide as it looks and is not very deep either. Just to make sure its plenty tough there are some pretty strong undulations on it as well.
Hole 15 – 417 Yards – Par 4
Next we have a lengthy par 4 that begins with a carry over a canyon type area. The fairway is pretty wide so this is not much to fear on this hole so forget about the canyon and make a confident swing.
Here is the approach shot into the green.
Hole 16 – 529 Yards – Par 5
The final par 5 on the course is one that looks like it could be reachable in two based on the yardage and the downhill nature of the hole. I’m not so sure though. In order to have any chance of reaching in two the drive needs to favor the right side of the hole.
Here is a view from where the fairway runs out. The safe shot is to the fairway over on the right side while those who wish to go for the green can hit a heroic shot at the green on the left side of the photo.
Here is another look at the green from the other side of the waste area. Note that the flag is sitting down in a little bowl similar to the one on the 6th hole. If you can wedge your third shot into that bowl there is a good chance that you will have a short birdie putt.
Hole 17 – 332 Yards – Par 4
Next we have a short par 4 that plays straight uphill. You can hit a safe club like a 200-220 yard shot, but I don’t see any reason not to hit the driver here and get it as far up the fairway as possible. Although it looks narrow the fairway is plenty generous.
A view of the approach shot into the 17th green.
Hole 18 – 396 Yards – Par 4
The closing hole is one last post card view from the tee box. This hole is lengthy at almost 400 yards and playing straight uphill, but it is a beautiful sight to behold.
The green sits in a bit of a bowl at the top of the hill. Definitely be sure to play some extra club on this approach shot.
Prior to Black Rock it had been quite some time since I’d played a Jim Engh course and I was glad to see his style of architecture again. We don’t have anything like his work on the east coast so it is always cool to play something different from the style of course I see day in and day out at home. Black Rock has some unique and interesting holes and I liked the way Engh was brave enough to break a few “rules” with the routing to maximize the property.
When we arrived to Coeur d’Alene Keith had a business meeting with a couple of locals who had played both Gozzer Ranch and The Golf Club at Black Rock, so of course we asked them which one they liked better. They both said that there was no way to compare them and that they were completely different. At the time I thought they were giving us the politically correct answer, but now having seen both of the courses I get exactly what they were saying. They each have their own distinctive personality and it would be very difficult to weigh them against one another. What I like about Black Rock is the unusual routing and the distinctive look of the course. Between the signature bunkers and some of the other unusual shapes on the course I felt like the aesthetics of the course gave it a lot of personality. I also liked some of the quirkiness of the course which sometimes meant that I didn’t really figure out the best way to play a hole until after I had already finished with a bogey. Regardless of the score it was a really fun course to play and one that I’d love to have a second shot at.