Pretty much every golf course in Whatcom and Skagit counties has a view of Mount Baker, and Similk Beach Golf Course is no different.
And just like most any other course in the area, Similk Beach has its fair share of trees on the course.
But what sets the course apart is its views of the two bays it is situated between.
“I wouldn’t say we’re really all that unique,” Similk golf professional Dick Freier said in a phone interview. “Just like most courses in the area, there are some beautiful views. You can see Mount Baker from the course. But we do have the views of the two bays — Fidalgo and Similk.”
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Located on the peninsula on the way to Anacortes, Similk Beach also gets much of its playing character from the two bays.
“Being located between the two bays, it’s rare when we don’t have any winds,” Freier said. “It’s not that the winds always howl. But it plays different on different days. When the wind is coming out of the north, the course plays different than it does with the predominantly south winds. The wind rarely blows real hard, but it makes you think about which direction it is blowing from every day.”
Freier takes us on a quick tour of the course:
“It’s a 406 yard par 4. The second shot is across water to a relatively small green with two sand traps at the back of green and one grass bunker in front. There is a great view of Mount Baker from the hole … It actually probably is one of the toughest holes on the course because of the water and the sand and the length. It’s the No. 1 handicap hole. Along with being our signature hole, it’s also one our toughest.”
Pro’s favorite hole
“It’s a short part par 4 — just 300 yards. But it’s got a large oak tree that sits right in front of the green — a real small, postage stamp green. You can make anywhere from a 2 to a 6 on it.”
“Adding something to the water and length and sand, when the wind is blowing out of the south the relatively small green is hard to hold. A lot of times, you go into the back bunkers. When the wind is out of the south, it can be anywhere from a mid- to short-iron in for good players. When the wind is coming the other way, it can be a mid- to long-iron either way … It’s harder when the wind is at your back to hold the green.”
“A 246 yard par 4. At a number of courses, it would be a par 3. For a strong player, reaching the green in one shot is a possibility. It’s got an elevated tee and elevated green. To reach the green is a full carry of 240 yards … It’s a real fun, unique hole that doesn’t seem too difficult. I can’t think of another hole in the area like it. But it is our most often birdied hole.”
Best hole to grip it and rip it
“It’s a 526 par 5. It is pretty wide open off an elevated tee. Tee sits about 30 feet above the fairway with a great view of Similk Bay. It really is a grip it and rip it hole.”
Most difficult green to read
“The hole runs downhill and the first 20 feet of the green follow the downhill terrain. Then even though the terrain continues downhill, the green starts to work its way up a mound … It can make putts break different than you would think. Without a doubt it’s the most difficult green to read.”
Hole you don’t want to underestimate
“It’s only 300 yards on the scorecard. But it’s got a pot bunker in front of the green. It’s a two-tiered green that drops off in back. It’s a drivable green for strong players, but you can stand on the tee thinking 3 and often walk away with a 5 or 6.”
Worst place for ball to land
No. 15, right off tee
“If you’re a long hitter, you usually want to hit your tee shot down the middle. And you may think you hit a great shot. But if want to go for the green in two, you want to favor the left side of the fairway. If you hit it to the center or right, it’s going to be real difficult to reach in two. You can hit a good shot, and you may think it’s where you want to be, but you may still have some work cut out for you. If you hit it toward the center or to the right, you’re going to have to hit it over some water to reach the green.”
Best risk-reward shot
Second shot on No. 15
“It’s a 505 yard par 5. After a good tee shot you can play a second shot that can reach the green or at least give you a shot at the green. But there is a bunker in front of the green and water left. If you’re not careful, you could be making a big number or you could give yourself a shot at eagle.”
“Be patient. Fight the urge to hit the big driver and throw every shot at the pin. There are a lot of holes to make birdie on, but the best way to do it is to make your shots. Aim for the center of the green, because the greens are pretty small. Let the birdies and eagles come to you and you will do pretty well.”