|Location||Maple Valley, Washington|
|Date Opened||July 1997|
|Date Played||February 27, 2000|
|Elk Run is situated between Covington and Maple
Valley, not far from Lake Wilderness and Druids Glen. The
course originally opened in 1989 as a 9 hole executive
course. I recall playing it shortly after it opened. In
1995 the course was reopened as a par 71 regulation
length course only using a few holes of the original nine
(now the back 9).
The course is set among forests, houses and a gravel pit. While trouble abounds the boundries of most holes, the fairways are reasonably wide between the tree lines or houses. You don't feel too constricted as is often the case with other courses in such a setting (as in Lake Wilderness up the road). On the scorecard there are only two sets of tees, blue and read. There are more tee boxes however. Even from the blue tees the course only plays 5724 yards. The main reason I went to Elk Run in February was because it was billed as a dry winter course. I admit I was disappointed in that department. It didn't seem drier than other courses in the area. There was casual water in numerous locations, and even on a green or two. Of course the extra casual water on 18 came after the 10 minute hail storm I experienced on the 16th hole. All too many of the bunkers had big puddles or collections of water though even before the hailstorm. There were also a few areas of standing water than created unnatural water filled depressions. I would not put this in the dry winter course category but I have seen worse (like Auburn). On the good side, mud and plugged shots didn't seem to be as much of a problem. It was just really wet.
There is a full clubhouse, restaurant, and sports bar to tickle your fancy either before or after the round.
The practice range had a sign over it that said closed until further notice and was rather raggy looking with the back fence sporting a 200 yard sign. It appeared it might be possible to drive a ball over the 200 yard fence and hit people on the 18th tee.
Elk Run has a good variety of holes, and length won't be your concern. The longest par 4 is only 364 yards. The par 5's are all under 500 yards, although number 7 at 496 yards plays up a steep hill after the tee shot. This is a good fun little layout where the driver is often best left in the bag in favor of a fairway wood or long iron off the tee. I found myself using driver more than I should have. My two iron generally had better results.
|The greens were not too bad for February. They rolled pretty well and were generally pretty dry except for the standing water on 18 after the hail storm. I can see where these could get lightening fast in the summer when it's dry.|
|Bunkers are present as well as some water and of course trees and houses. Bunkers seem to have the most presence with there being some 30-40 that I recall.|
|The fairways were in Feburary shape and very wet. Casual water was a problem on more than one occasion. I suspect in summer they will firm up and be much more playable. While surrounded by trouble, there is usually (but not always) a fairly generous landing area to avoid the trees or houses. Still sometimes the short grass narrows down in the landing areas, making a long iron or fairway wood a better choice off the tee.|
|Lost Ball Factor|
|With houses on some holes, some woods, and some hazards, losing a ball is not all that unlikely. I had one in my round on number 9, more due to lack of local knowledge. With smart play off the tee it isn't that hard to keep the ball on the course and avoid the lost ball.|
|Terrain/Elevations/Walking vs Riding|
|The course is not flat. You will find some hills, and a few big hills. Number 7 climbs up a decent sized hill starting about 150 yards from the green. There is also a long walk from number 16 to number 17th tee through the wetlands area, and another good climb up from the 17th green to the 18th tee. If you were a walker playing with people in carts, you would get left behind playing catch up on the walk to 17 for sure and probably 18 as well.|
|My favorite aspects|
|The layout is interesting with good hole variety. I really need to play in drier conditions for a final judgement. The course is a good change of pace from the long courses and makes you play smart. There are also some scenic views and pretty holes.|
|Wet in winter. Houses never win any points with me
either. Fortunately they are not often right by the
fairways so you have some leeway. The exception is number
18 which almost looks like a pinball factory of houses if
you go left at all. This hole really looks kind of forced
into the area and could use some more breathing room.
While the requsite stakes and plaque markers for 100/150/200 are present, sprinkler head markings would be a nice bonus.
|I really need to reserve final judgement until I can play a round under better conditions. It certainly wasn't the worst winter course I have ever played, but not in the top 10 either. If you are tired of 6000+ yard courses, this will provide a break from that, and you will get to play some well designed holes, and get some nice views.|
|The 1st hole is one of the better holes on the course, a 486 yard par 5 with a sharp bend to the left. The pond seen off the tee should not be in play unless you really get the first tee jitters. A nice three wood or so along the corner will leave under 200 yards to an elevated green with a bank behind (fun chipping from on the bank). If you bail out to the right, don't hit so far as to go through the fairway. The uphill 2nd shot is guarded by greenside bunkers front left and right. A good birdie opportunity to start the round off.|
|.||The 2nd hole at 259 yards is tempting to reach in one. The green is well trapped and anything less than the perfect shot will find you at the beach. Still not a bad gamble if you sand play is even average.|
|.||Number 3 at 333 yards has a blind tee shot over a hill down to a green guarded by a lone bunker to the right front. An OB barb wire fence runs along the right side. On the left is thick rough. Accuracy is the better choice over distance here. Seen here is the approach to the green.|
|.||Number 4 at 142 yards is a nice short par 3 somewhat uphill to a green surrounded by three bunkers. No special difficulties here if you avoid the bunkers.|
|.||Number 5 like so many others, a 328 yard par 4 with a decent landing area. I played a 2 iron here favoring the right side and had a nice approach into the smallish green with a lone bunker on the right front. Avoid the left and you should be ok.|
|.||Number 6 is a pretty flat 324 yard par 3 with a boundry on the left, and the gravel pit to the right. There is ample room however. The fairway short grass does narrow down approaching the green so you may want to consider that. One bunker guards the left front of the green.|
|.||Number 7 is a 496 yard par 4 and will play every bit of it. The tee shot is a little down hill into a fairly level area. Starting past the 200 yard marker you can see where the hole climbs up a steep hill to the green. You definitely want to stay right of the big fir tree about 2/3 up the hill. I didn't heed this advice and had a blind 3rd shot just past this tree on the left. The green is guarded by a bunker left front, and one right rear. The 2nd photo is taken looking back from behind the green. The old gravel pit can be seen off to the left, and the massive housing developments to the back.|
|.||Number 8 is a nice 188 yard uphill par 3. While the front left bunker can be seen, the one to the right rear can not. This is a case where I suffered from lack of local knowledge as I played slightly right and ended up in the hidden bunker. The green is angled from the front to the back left rear. Unfortunately this picture didn't come out too good.|
|.||Number 9 is probably the toughest hole on the course. At 364 yards, it is a long par 4 by Elk Run standards, in fact the longest par 4 out there. Another hole where local knowledge is helpful as the lateral hazard area to the right creeps in as you come down the hill. I hit what I though was the perfect 3 wood, only to end up in the hazard crud. Had to take a drop, then played my 2nd shot to the point that can be seen on the green in the photo. I left this hole still uncertain of the best strategy to play. If you lay up on top of the hill you leave yourself and awfully long 2nd shot. Risking the hill though can lead to a penalty. I'll also note the area at the bottom was some serious ground under repair on my visit. Hopefully they will get some grass to grow to at least provide a decent finishing area.|
|.||Number 10 at 212 yards is a scenic downhill par 3 that won't play all that yardage. Just avoid being long at all costs. A large bunker will attempt to save you from the tree and brush behind the green, but don't count on it.|
|.||Number 11 is a 456 yard reachable par 5 over a pond, which runs down the left side the first part of the hole and definitely comes in to play. A line of houses goes down the right side the entire length of the hole, and can come into play here. The 2nd (or 3rd) shot will be uphill to an untrapped green. The houses creep up on the right side, so misses should favor the left as there is plenty of room if you miss left. Still one of the best birdie opportunities on the back nine.|
|.||The 12th is a slightly downhill 196 yard par 4. One bunker guards the left side and what you see is pretty much what you get. The big thing to avoid is the pond behind the green. Short is ok, long is jail.|
|.||The 13th is a nice 346 yard par 4 where the green is tucked in along the left side. Plenty of bail out room to the right. I had my 3 wood tee shot interestingly enough plug/stick right under the leading edge of the 100 yard plate in the middle of the fairway. I guess I hit it straight! The approach is to a rather tame green guarded by a long bunker. Avoid the left side of this hole and you should survive.|
|.||The 14th is the 2nd and final par 5 on the back side, at 485 yards is a bit more difficult that the previous. A boundry fence runs down the right side, but the hole opens up more in the landing area. There really is some room to the right. A fairway bunker sits down the left side and is reachable in dry weather. The hole turns sharply left and goes uphill to a green with some bunkers to contend with. Don't be long.|
|.||The 15th is the par 3 that can be seen from the road. The gawdy power lines down the right side detract from an otherwise scenic 187 yard hole. The green is well bunkerd on all sides with a front opening on the front right.|
|.||The 16th is a 332 yard par 4 with a hacker pond in front of the tee. Avoid the right side as the hole slopes away into a lateral hazard area. Shortly after this picture was taken and I was walking up to my 2nd shot, the skies unloaded into a hailstorm. Needless to say I hurried to finish the hole.|
|It is a long lonely walk from the 16th green to the 17th tee as you cross some wetlands. Fortunately by the time I reached the 17th tee the hailstorm has subsided and the rain was reduced to a light drizzle. The hole itself is a tight 320 yard par 4, one of the tighter driving holes on the course. A perfectly struck 2 iron left me a short shot into a green guarded by a bunker left front.|
|Number 18 at 270 yards almost looks like an afterthought. Squashed between OB right, and houses down the left and around the back of the green, if you want to nail a house, this is your chance. Anything badly pulled will likely caroom off of the houses seen to the left. The safe play here is just a short iron layup and avoid all the trouble.|
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