Prospector Golf Course at Suncadia
3320 Suncadia Trail
Cle Elum, WA
In our never-ending quest to the find the best and worst about everything related to golf in the Pacific Northwest, we finally got our rears in gear and headed east of the Cascades to take in the highly regarded Prospector Golf Course at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum. The big time golf resort is something we don’t get much of around here. Yes, Bandon gets its share of press and it’s quite the remarkable place, but really how many places are there that provide resort style environments with a quality golf course attached to it. Maybe Semiahmoo up north and then Suncadia in Cle Elum. Suncadia boasts 3 championship caliber golf courses on the property, two of which are open to the public, Prospector and Rope Rider. While the private course, Tumble Creek, is a highly praised Tom Doak course (designer of Pacific Dunes & Old Macdonald) that we are really itching to play.
Temperatures in the mid 90’s greeted us for our round at Prospector and we couldn’t have been more happy about that. Throw in a bunch of elevation that we usually don’t play with some very hot and dry conditions and I am expecting some booming drives and balls that bound in the fairway. My aspirations of popping one in the 290 yard zone was quickly torn down when the first tee shots came down with a winter splat in the fairway. I can only assume that the Prospector team was concerned about the course getting baked out in mid to upper 90’s degree heat, so they literally drowned the place the night before. We tee’d off at 9:20am and the course played wet all day. Not necessarily soaking, but there were some pretty murky spot outs there and enough water for all of the guys to say something to the extend of, “damn it’s wet out here.” It didn’t really inhibit play at all, it just made the course play a lot longer than we expected.
Minus the heavy watering hick-up this place was pretty nails and featured some of the most challenging approach shots in the state. Pretty crafty design really where the teeing ground is very straight forward and wide open, but the greens are so well protected that there is very little room for error coming in. Looking back on the round, it seemed as if every green featured these sweeping uphill bunkers that protected a raised, plateau green with very little room to land the approach shot. It was freaking tough because you had to be very precise when you went flag seeking. It was one of those golf courses where it was a lot smarter to play to either the dead center of the green or a side that appeared to have room, regardless of flag location. I had two specific approaches that (in my mind at least) I had stuffed, that ended up being no more that 3 yards short and I payed the price both times. Once in the water and the other buried in the top of the bunker. Flags were in some tough spots out there and if you are not thinking about the smartest area to land the golf ball, Prospector is going to smack you.
In contrast to the green protection and challenging approaches, a wide open teeing area make this course very playable to the majority of skill levels. Sure you can scuttle one into the woods, but from the appropriate tee boxes a new comer or high handicapper should be able to get around the course without donating a full dozen to the golf gods. The course also had a good family and women friendly vibe as we saw a lot of women and children (mostly teens) taking in a round of golf.
Lastly, as expected with a golf course you are paying $80 to play, they had some excellent greens out there. A bit of mixed color to them as can be expected with most northwest greens, but they were smooth as a pool table and rolled very true. Fairly slow uphill allowing you be very aggressive, but slicker than a beaver’s back downhill. Tread very very lightly if you leave the ball above the hole.
All said this was a pretty solid golf course at a price that is reasonable for the golf you are getting. The heavy watering of the course did take a little thrill away from it, because frankly who wants to see a plugged fairway lie on a 95 degree day. Playing lift, clean and place was a bit ridiculous. Besides that, everything else at Prospector was well up to par. A very playable, yet challenging design; solid greens that rolled well and offered scoring opportunities for appropriately placed approach shots; and a forgiving teeing ground that allowed you to miss a touch without pulling a provisional from the bag.
Oh, one last thing. $5 for a 12oz Coors Light is outrageous! $60 for a half rack?! You must be joking.
Golfchops.com Score: 19/25
Customer Service: 4
Condition of Greens: 5
“Perceived Maintenance Level of Course: 3
– Friendly crew at Suncadia, but we could have used some instruction on where to go and what not. We were lost as first timers and didn’t get any “go here” instruction at check in.
– Excellent. Smooth, rolled great, loved them.
– Maintained well, but soupy for 4 straight hours on a 95 degree day?
– $80 is reasonable for the quality of this place. No complaints there.
– Very nice clubhouse, average putting green and good driving range. Cart service multiple times, but a $5, 12oz. Coors Light made everyone’s wallet cry.