Verdant fairways and a variety of challenging holes contributed to White Horse Golf Club being named one of the top courses in the United States for design.
The Kingston course was named the 25th top public golf course for its layout by Golf Pass, a golf service of NBC. White Horse, owned by Suquamish Clearwater Casino and Resort, was the only Northwest course to make the list.
“It’s tree-lined, has elevation changes, and a little bit of water here and there,” longtime general manager and head PGA professional Bruce Christy said. “It’s a course a lot of people love to play, even though it’s tough and has some teeth to it. Even if it kicked their rear-end, players can’t wait to come back again and give it try.”
In announcing the top course layouts Golf Pass staff stated, “These golf courses captured the imaginations of countless visitors in 2023 with their fascinating designs. For many golfers, the layout is the number one priority for their golf experience.”
The playability of the course is second to none in the area, Christy said. “For a public golf course, it is maintained almost like a private course… It’s a course people enjoy playing because they know it’s kept in premiere shape year-round.”
The signature hole is the 18th, a 386-yard par four that begins from an elevated tee box. “It’s a slight dogleg left around a twenty-acre pond with the clubhouse sitting as the backdrop behind the green. You have some bunkers down the right side… It’s a great finishing hole because anything can happen, and it’s hard one to make a par on,” the golf pro said.
The 9th hole is another highlight, Christy said. Listed as the No. 1 handicap hole, or most difficult, the 427-yard par four features a tree-lined fairway. There is a swale in front of the putting surface. The green is well-bunkered on the sides. A large mound to the right of the putting surface gives skilled players the opportunity to hit the hill and allow the ball to roll toward the green.
The year after the course debuted it was named by Golf Digest one of the Best New Public Courses of 2007. The trek earned national accolades, but it was a tough course for the average player.
“When we first opened, the golf course had waist-high fescue that lined the edges of the cart path and bunkers, and around the greens. It was very penal when players mishit a shot; there was almost no recovery. It looked great. Low-handicap players enjoyed the course but mid- to high-handicap players found it to be too difficult,” Christy recalled.
Modifications were made to make the course more appealing to the average duffer. “We softened the course by removing 68 (of 156) bunkers, softened some of the approaches and widened some fairway landing areas just so it would be more playable. That brought back a lot more players,” Christy said.
White Horse is set over 456 acres. The course – designed by Cynthia Dye-McGarey, niece of the world renown golf course architect Pete Dye – opened in 2007. In 2010, the course was purchased by the Suquamish Tribe.
Photos are courtesy of White Horse Golf Club. Both show different angles of the
course’s signature 18th hole, a 386-yard par four.