When most golfers think golfing in the Pacific Northwest, they think about tree-lined fairways on just about every hole.
When Homestead Farms Golf Resort opened in 1995 in Lynden, it proved that the links, resort-style course also could provide area golfers with a different style of course.
"There not as many huge trees on the course," Homestead Farms golf professional Bo Stephan said. "We have some more ponds and water hazards but not as much undulation. This area started out as farmland, so this was the perfect setting for a links-style course."
Designers also found the perfect place to build one of the most recognizable holes in the region, creating an island green on the par-5 18th hole.
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Stephan likes to say the hole is on the perfect place on the course, creating a maximum risk-reward opportunity for those bold enough to try reaching the green in two strokes.
Stephen takes us on a quick tour of the course:
"It's a great hole, and it's located on a great spot on the course. It's the ultimate risk-reward finish. You can find yourself in position whether you are going to go for this island green in two shots. It can really make or break your round. It’s just a cool finish. If somebody wants to come out and play one nine (front or back), they always want to play the back nine so can play No. 18."
Members' favorite hole
"It has to be No. 4 or No. 18. They're both good, fair holes and plenty of fun … (No. 4) is a hole you can't rip it off the tee. It's a hole you need to lay up on, about 170 to 175 yards out. Then you have another shot over a little creek. The green divided into three sections because a grass bunker in the middle of approach to the green … It is sort of a long, narrow, kidney-shaped green."
"It really depends on the wind … If the wind is blowing out the northeast, No. 1 is the toughest. It's a good, tough, long starting par 4. If it’s playing into the wind, it gets even tougher. The second shot is really difficult to get the right distance on the second shot. You really have a hard time getting enough club to hit into the wind."
"It's a nice, short par-3 with out a whole lot of trouble. Anywhere the pin is placed, it's from a pitching wedge to 7-iron for most people … The toughest pin placement is in the back right, but you can play to any part of the green and have a decent chance of making par on this hole."
Best hole to grip it and rip it
"It's the only hole where a long driver of the ball will find absolutely no trouble. It has a huge, wide fairway. It's a par 4. You can stand up there and pound it out there. Usually the wind is helping a little bit, so you can really hit it long."
Hole not to underestimate
"The yardage isn't bad. It's a dogleg par-4. But people make it longer than it needs to be because they bail out to the right. Now there are some trees in the bailout area that can play tricks on you … They were planted five or six years ago, and now they're getting big enough to cause some problems … The green is not terribly hard, but there are some undulations that can make it difficult."
Toughest green to read
The green has a subtle slope, I guess. I think the way it appears, there is less slope (to the green) than people think. It slopes towards the water, and people don't always take that into account when they read a putt."
Worst place for ball to land
Front green side bunker on No. 6
"There is about a six-foot face or lip on that thing. If you get up against that lip, you literally cannot play over it. You have to play out to the side, and that is tough for people to see. It's not something they want to do, but that lip will knock any shot back down."
Best risk-reward shot
Second shot on No. 18
"It's got to be. The second shot is always good. If you hit your ball up there in that 'go-for-two' range, you have to think about it. That can make for a three- or four-shot difference in your final total depending how you pull off that shot."
Keep it right
"You can miss it right on every hole except (Nos.) 4 and 5. Every tee shot except 4 and 5, can you can miss it right, but you're still going to be in play. Now, I'm not saying you’re going to be in good shape, but there are few hazards and almost no out of bounds to the right. Almost all of our OB is on the left."
Meet the club pro
Club pro since: 2006
Prior to that: Served as an assistant professional at Bellingham Golf and Country Club and Homestead Farms
Why a club pro? "I just suppose I started to want to do it when I was a college golfer. I wanted to get in business aspect of golf and continue to compete at the same time."
His other job: Head women's golf coach at Western Washington University. "I think it works out well. For me to leave work here and go practice with the girls, it's pretty easy and fun. I can enjoy them both. I can separate the two, but they're related. The management here at Homestead is very supportive of me doing that."