Community Sports

Setting makes Lake Padden a classic gem

WWU student Evan Mason, 22, putts on the 13th hole at the Lake Padden Golf Course May 4 while golfing partner and WWU student Danny Stockinger, 22, watches. The 13th hole is considered one of Lake Padden’s signature holes because of the beauty of its surroundings.
WWU student Evan Mason, 22, putts on the 13th hole at the Lake Padden Golf Course May 4 while golfing partner and WWU student Danny Stockinger, 22, watches. The 13th hole is considered one of Lake Padden’s signature holes because of the beauty of its surroundings. PHILIP A. DWYER THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Lake Padden Golf Course is not old — it’s old style.

And it is definitely a classic.

“There are no houses along the fairways, which means that every fairway is its own course,” Director of Golf at Lake Padden Mel Fish said. “There is no noise and there is plenty of wildlife on the course … This place has always been a park, and it always will.”

Lake Padden has earned a Four-Star rating from Golf Digest and it is also rated one of the best municipal courses in the state by the publication.

“It’s always been a gem,” Fish said. “We don’t do a lot of advertising, yet we still do 50,000 rounds of golf per year. It’s a dry course year round, so you can play all year. It’s a great course in the winter.”

Fish takes us on a quick trip around one of the classic courses of Whatcom County:

Signature hole

No. 13

“It’s a par-5 with a lake on the left side. What makes this hole special is the view of Chuckanut Mountain in the background. Really, it’s the same view as No. 5, and you could say either is our signature hole. You’ll have to pick and chose which hole you like better, because they’re equally beautiful. One is on the front nine and the other on the back nine. They are parallel to each other.”

Players’ favorite hole

No. 5

“It’s a par-5 dogleg left — about 90 degrees — with an elevated green. It’s hard to reach the green in two. Only the long hitters can make it in two, and there’s a two-tiered green. What sets this hole apart is when you get to the green and look back, you can see the mountain. It’s just a great view.”

Toughest hole

No. 4

“It’s the toughest hole in the county. It’s an uphill par-3 with a severely sloped green from left to right. If you hit it above the hole, you might as well be in jail — it’s almost impossible to keep it on the green. You want to be right. Bogey on this hole is a real good score.”

Easiest hole

No. 12

“It’s a 150-yard par-3 with everything right in front of you. I don’t know if there is really an easy hole on the course, because of the greens. Almost every hole has real big greens and lots of slope … No. 12 is no different. The slope is from back to front.”

Hole not to underestimate

No. 14

“It’s the shortest par-4 on the golf course with a green that slopes away from you. If you hit a driver off the tee, it will leave you a little half wedge to the green. If you hit iron, you’ve got a full wedge to a green that slopes away. It looks easy, but 4 is a good score on this hole.”

Best risk-reward shot on course

Tee shot on No. 15

“A lot of people like to try hitting it over corner on the dogleg right. If you can hit it over the corner, you have about 100 yards to the green. If you don’t, you have about a 170-yard shot left. What you can’t see from the tee is a second layer of trees that you have to hit it over.”

Best hole to grip it and rip it

No. 8

“It’s a downhill par-4. It’s a little bit of a risk-reward shot in and of itself. If you hit it down the right-center of the fairway, you have a chance to drive the green. But if you miss left, you’re left with a sidehill lie and wedge in your hand, which is a really tough shot.”

Worst place for a ball to land

Left of the hole on the green at No. 4

“If you put it left of the hole and can keep it on the green, you are a miracle worker. And the thing about this green is it looks so benign when you walk up to the tee, but it will eat you alive.”

Toughest green to read

No. 6

“The hole is a long par-3, and the green is very much bowl-shaped. Depending on where the pin is, the ball can break left, it can break right, it can be uphill or it can be downhill.”

Tip to playing the course

“Course management is critical. You have to be careful what you hit off the tee. If you’re wild with the driver, it’s going to add strokes to your score with every fairway being lined with woods … It’s much easier to make birdie from the fairway than it is from the woods.”

Meet the club professional

MEL FISH

Club Pro since: 1992

How he became a club pro: “I’d been offered opportunities to get into the business several times, but I hadn’t been able to. Then one day ... I decided it was what I wanted to do. I love being a club pro, and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

Why a club pro: "I enjoy getting out there and playing as often as I can and I enjoy teaching other people how to become better golfers. This really is a rewarding job.”

Away from the course: “When I’m not here, I enjoy watching my son (Josh) play sports. He’s about to leave for school in North Carolina (Campbell University to play Division I baseball). I try to see him play as much as I can.”

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