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Welcome to West Sound's Dream Course

On Aug. 18, the No. 18 hole on Gold Mountain’s Olympic Course will be protected by water as well as its many sand traps. - photo by Jesse Beals
On Aug. 18, the No. 18 hole on Gold Mountain’s Olympic Course will be protected by water as well as its many sand traps.
— image credit: photo by Jesse Beals

The turn has been made, and you and your threesome have survived, so far. But now it’s going to get tough.

That’s what happens when you take the best of the best and combine them into one spectacular golf course. Just imagine playing a back nine that includes a tough uphill par 4 at Horseshoe Lake to step on the tee box of a reachable par 5 at McCormick Woods that is the ultimate in risk-reward, to then face a par 3 that measures a scary 251 yards, to then go to a short par 4 closing hole that can turn a sure birdie into a round-killing double bogey.

That can easily happen on the Central Kitsap Reporter’s Fantasy Golf Course which includes the 18 best golf holes in and around Kitsap County as voted on by the people that know them best — local golfers.

A poll conducted through interviews and e-mails of golf course owners, general managers and instructors as well as weekend warriors has produced the top 18 holes in the area and just beyond.

These holes include some the hardest on the Olympic Peninsula as well as some of the easiest. Some holes are listed just for their beauty while others found their way into the top 18 because they have been the setting of some golfer’s most memorable shots – both good and bad.

And while the outward nine, which was showcased in the Aug. 6 issue of the Reporter, was a nice beginning, the inward nine will have golfers scrambling for their lives.

Although the back nine comes in at a par of 36 and covers just 3,357 yards, chances of success of are slim to say the least. Like the front, these holes come from predominantly three courses in the county, Trophy Lake Golf & Casting and McCormick Woods in Port Orchard and Bremerton’s Olympic Course at Gold Mountain.

But these are the best of the best, the toughest, the longest, the hardest and the most popular of all the holes detailed by area golfers along with some other worthy holes that were prominently mentioned but just didn’t quite make the final cut.

So grab a couple more sleeves of balls, take a deep breath, wipe your brow and adjust your collar; the best is yet to come.

No. 10 – No. 15 Gold Mountain, Olympic Course, par 4, 357 yards: A quick glance at the scorecard shows the opening hole on the back nine is short and sweet. But looks can be deceiving.

Finding the fairway from a blind tee shot up the hill is imperative, as is the placement of your drive. Anything left of center leaves an approach over the pond that guards the left of the green and a drive too far right leaves too much room for error coming into this narrow and tight green.

“It’s a great par 4,” said Mark Knowles, general manager at Trophy Lake. “It’s not overly long but a good, solid hole. And with the water in front, it’s a beautiful hole.”

No. 11 – No. 2 Port Ludlow, Trail Nine, par 3, 176 yards: Maybe the most scenic hole not only on this course but in the state of Washington and beyond. With an elevated tee looking down to a green with the Puget Sound flowing behind it, a premium is placed on the tee shot. And at 176 yards with a tricky wind, club selection becomes the most important part of the equation.

But the beauty of this hole will make any golfer forget his score, good or bad.

“Probably the most picturesque hole around and maybe in the world,” said Kevin Earl, director of golf at Port Ludlow. “It looks so great as you are up on the tee box hitting right back into the water.”

No. 12 – No. 18 McCormick Woods, par 5, 477 yards: The first of many risk-reward holes that make up this back nine. At 477 yards, it’s a short five-shooter. But much depends on how it is played.

First, a drive must find the fairway, avoiding the fairway bunkers to the right to leave any chance of hitting the green in two. But a well-placed drive only means making the dreaded decision of going for the green in two, which can be tricky.

Even a well-played second shot could leave a very tough eagle putt and can quickly turn into a three-putt par or worse.

“It’s just an excellent golf hole,” said Shawn Cuciardi, general manager of McCormick Woods. “There’s a lot of risk-reward on this hole. It’s a well designed hole.”

No. 13 – No. 4 Trophy Lake Golf & Casting, par 4, 473 yards: A straight-forward, long par 4 with a fairway split by a ridge that forces a decision off the tee. The fairway is wide, but the sloping ridge dictates the lie on the approach to a well guarded green.

Any drive too far left is blocked by trees, while a second shot from the right must not only carry a bunker but be long enough to reach a raised green. Anything in the left-front bunker is dead and birdie putts are hard to come by on this slick, sloping green.

“It’s flat-out a hard hole,” said e-mailer Duane Richardson. “Any time I walk off that hole with par or better it makes my round.”

No. 14 – No. 14 Horseshoe Lake, par 4, 365 yards: Definitely not the kind of hole a golfer wants to face as a round winds down. But that’s why it’s here.

A tough, uphill tester that demands an accurate tee shot down the left side to shorten the hole. There is plenty of room to bail out to the right but the second shot will be brutal, coming straight up the hill with little green to work with and no clue where the pin is. Even a well-placed tee shot to the left leaves an uphill flop to a small green that slants not only from back to front but from right to left.

“That back three-hole stretch is some good golf,” said Steve Williams of holes 14-16 at Horseshoe. “But No. 14 is the key to it. It’s tough getting the right club to get up the hill.”

No. 15 – No. 12 Gold Mountain, Olympic Course, par 3, 251 yards: The distance alone makes this a very tough hole, but add in a slight downhill tee shot with a green flanked by trees, and look out. The wind felt on the tee is nonexistent around the green and anything short of this multi-tiered green leaves a pitch shot from hell. Best bet is to be long and right or way left which still leaves a pitch over a deep-faced bunker. Getting off this hole with par is a very, very good thing.

“Tough green, tough tee shot, it’s just an intimidating hole,” Knowles said. “Par is a great score.”

No. 16 – No. 16 McCormick Woods, par 4, 386 yards: A very tough driving hole that leaves little room for error. The rolling, uphill fairway is tight with out-of-bounds on both sides. Even a solid drive down the middle can leave an awkward lie with a tough, uphill second shot that not only demands accuracy, it requires it.

Many good rounds have found their death on this simple, unassuming looking hole. But it is one of the toughest pars in the county – just ask anyone that has played and survived it.

“A round killer every time,” Lonnie Nettles of Tacoma said after a round at McCormick. “I hate that hole, but at the same time, I look forward to playing. There’s just something about it.”

No. 17 – No. 18 Trophy Lake Golf & Casting, par 5, 547 yards: Another risk-reward hole that requires a solid tee shot to score well. Anything not too far right will kick back into the fairway if it avoids the deep bunkers but anything left will find deep rough.

And water becomes a major part of the game on the approach as the green is well guarded with a creek that runs in front and widens to the right where a spectacular waterfall greets all the golfers. A long, straight drive can lead to a simple, long to medium iron into a relatively flat green but the risk is finding water.

“A great hole that offers a lot of rewards,” Knowles said. “But there are risks there too. It’s a great finishing hole.”

No. 18 – No. 18 Gold Mountain, Olympic Course, par 4, 325: A great closing hole that is just getting better. Even though the hole is short enough for bombers to drive, the green is well-protected by bunkers, and starting Aug. 18, by water down the right side. This makes for yet another interesting decision off the tee. The smart play is to lay up with an iron for an easy birdie but the temptation to drive the

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