Community Sports

Eaglemont course king of the hill

Billy Kennedy, 18, of Gainesville, Fla., chips onto the 18th green at Eaglemont Golf Course in Mount Vernon.
Billy Kennedy, 18, of Gainesville, Fla., chips onto the 18th green at Eaglemont Golf Course in Mount Vernon. LUKE HARRIS THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Despite all the hills that roll through Whatcom and Skagit counties, only one golf course truly embraces them.

While many area courses sport tree-line fairways with sand and water hazards, it is the topography at Eaglemont Golf Course in Mount Vernon that sets it apart.

“It is on a beautiful piece of property,” Eaglemont head PGA professional Mike O’Laughlin said in a phone interview. “It’s a very large course, and the topography, or lay of the land, is amazing. There are a lot of ups and downs to this course.”

Because of all those ups and downs, Eaglemont will challenge almost all golfers. The course will create a number of side-hill lies, and golfers also will have to hit over a number of ravines.

“It makes it a challenge to hit the ball clean, because of the lay of the land,” O’Laughlin said. “You’re not always going to hit it flush. It is playable if you understand the challenge … It’s definitely a golf course you need to play a few times. Do that, and you’ll understand.”

O’Laughlin takes us on a quick tour of the course:

Signature Hole

No. 18

“It is a par 4, 380 yards with an elevated tee down to a huge fairway. Then right behind the 18th green is Mount Baker. Visually it is probably one of the prettiest holes in the state. It’s pretty cool.”

Architect’s favorite hole

No. 14

“It’s a 380-yard, dogleg left, and the fairway slopes right to left and then the green sits down in a bowl. It’s kind of like an amphitheater. The setting of the green is perfect for the shape of the hole.”

Toughest hole

No. 8

“424 yards. It plays downhill with a slight dogleg to the left, but the fairway slopes from left to right and the wind comes from left to right. Fitting your tee shot into the fairway is tough, and the green has sort of an island green effect. All around the green is a wetland. It’s a dry wetland, but if your ball goes in there, it is a lost shot. It really almost plays like an island green.”

Easiest hole

No. 1

“Par 5, 505 yards, dogleg right with a large fairway for your tee ball and a large fairway the second shot. The green is fairly flat. The opening hole is probably the friendliest.”

Best risk-reward shot

No. 3

“A well-played tee shot allows you to take a shot at the green in two. However you’ve still got two wetlands to get past. The first one, you’ll have to get across with tee ball. If you don’t want to risk it, you can lay up in front. And there is another wetland right in the front of the green. It’s a great risk-reward hole. How do you feel?”

Best hole to grip it an rip it

No. 17

“It is a par 5, 516 yards with a very wide-open fairway. Typically you’ll have the south wind with you. It is a fun hole to let that tee ball fly, and the fairway is really generous.”

Hole not to underestimate

No. 9

“It’s only 338 yards, however you have to hit a good tee shot and you have to hit a good second shot. It’s fairly short, but you have got to hit two good shots to get your par.”

Toughest green to read

No. 13

“The truth is everyone tries to find movement in their putts, and almost all the putts are straight. It is just hard to read the 13th green.”

Worst place for ball to land

In the wetlands

“Almost all are dry, but they are waist high. If a ball goes anywhere in the wetlands, you’re pretty much going to take a one-shot penalty drop.”

Pro’s Tip

“Make sure you understand the lay of the fairway. You need to play to the high side of the fairway so the ball can meanders toward the center. You want to hit driver more times than not. A lot of people will put the driver in their bag and keep it there, and that really handcuffs them with the length of the course. You do need to hit driver, but you need to hit it to the right side of the fairway. Then the other tip is being patient. Be patient and kind to yourself. Eaglemont is very challenging.”