General Information  
Location Bellingham, Washington
Date Opened 1994
Date Played 07/12/99
Review Date 01/16/99
My Score/Best Score 41/38-79
Phone Number 1-800-801-8897
Located Northeast of Bellingham and situated in a bowl like setting with the highest point on the course being the clubhouse/1st/10th tees, Shuksan is a fun interesting layout with enough variety and challenge for all golfers. The holes generally sit down in a valley. There are many elevated tees, 1, 3,7, 10, 12, 13, 16, and 18 immediately come to mind. Some such as 1, 10, and 12 are extremely elevated making for some fantastic views of the mountains, surrounding countryside, and the rest of the course. While a few of the greens are elevated, the course plays more downhill than uphill. This somewhat negates the 6774 blue tee yardage. If you hit a good tee ball, 250 or longer, I recommend the blue tees. Speaking from a summer play perspective, fairway roll is moderate. You won't get the hard packed mega roll, but the ball will release some. This will of course depend somewhat on the time of year you play. 
The greens are some of the best I have seen in the Pacific Northwest, at least on a public course. When I played they weren't lightning fast, but not slow either. The best part was they rolled extremely true. Where you putted the ball is where it went. If you could read and stroke the putt it generally went in the hole. Don't expect flat greens however, there are more than a few undulations and breaks to be concerned with.
The biggest form of hazards come from the wetlands, ponds, ditches, and Ten Mile Creek that run throughout the layout. In fact, only one hole, number 11 is there no water. There are a good number of bunkers, both fairway and greenside. In my round I never managed to find a bunker at all, but did visit the drink on 3 occasions on hole 3 (while playing through the group ahead!), 5 near the green, and 10 off the tee due to bad local knowledge not realizing it came into play as much on the right. 
The fairways are of decent width and in good condition. Since they appear well watered, don't expect mega roll, but you won't be digging your ball out of it's own pitch mark either. 
Lost Ball Factor
Due to the many water hazards, lost balls are a definite possibility. I mean I managed to dump 3 in the drink. If you avoid the water, you should usually be able to find your ball as there is not a lot of other in course woods or trees where you are likely to lose a ball. Don't however plan on playing the whole day with one ball unless you extremely accurate or get lucky. 
Terrain/Elevations/Walking vs Riding
Once in the valley, the elevations are not severe, sometimes almost flat. On the perimeters however, expect much up and down. Most of it comes in the form of elevated tees down to flattish fairways. 

The course is usually easy to walk except, and this is a big except, there are some long and/or uphill walks to some of the elevated tee boxes or next holes. You have pretty good walks from 5 to 5, the long trek from 9 back up to the clubhouse at 10, The most grueling hike from 10 to 11 is a very uphill steep winding path of a similar grade to a hiking trail yet paved for carts. You then have the big walk back up to the clubhouse after the 18th. I walked the course, but then again I will walk about anything they let me.

My favorite aspects
My favorite part of this course was the excellent greens, and the scenic views. You really can make the putts if you hit em right, and some of the views from the tees are spectacular. 
Not anything to keep me from coming back but, the long uphill walk to 11 is definitely not a positive. I also would have liked to see a little more yardage variety in the par 3's. The shortest being 161 and the longest 178, with three at 172, 175, 178. I always like to see a good short sub 150 yard par 3 in the mix, and a longer one at 200+ yards adds variety. Also the driving range was using mats in the middle of summer. The downhill range while interesting also allows balls to be sprayed right onto the number 1 fairway. Also due to the downhill/elevated nature, you may feel like a gorilla on the range with those 180 yard 8 irons, but it isn't reality. 
Final Thoughts
When I played they had a special deal where you could play for $20 on Tuesday. Unfortunately, or maybe not, I was there on Monday. I will say on Monday the course was not crowded and I got right out. 

I'd recommend this course and it is definitely on my replay list once I play some of the other courses I have yet to visit. Apparently I am not alone, as Golf Digest in 1996-97 awarded Shuksan 4 stars in it's places to play guide. 

Shuksan Score Card Shuksan Scorecard
Tee Yards Par Rating Slope
Blue 6774 72 70.4 121
White 6274 72 67.6 115
Red 5271 72 72.7 123

Hole Shots

Shuksan 5th hole The 5th hole, a 374 yard par 4 causes more problems than it may appear off the tee. A pond definitely comes into play on the right, and trees left will block approach shots drifting that direction. If you place a good drive, the 2nd shot is downhill to a cute little green guarded on the left by a bunker and a wetland. Favor the right side on the approach. 
Shuksan 6th hole The 6th hole, a 178 yard par 3 is not particularly difficult except trees come in close before the green on the left side. Shots pulled left will hit these trees and drop well short of the green. The best approach is to start the ball out to the right and draw it back in if the pin is cut left. Definitely favor the right side on a miss. 
Shuksan 8th hole The 8th hole, a 412 yard par 4, is one of the more difficult par 4's on the front side. Mostly level you will find water down the right size the entire length of the hole. There are rough areas to the left making that not an option. After a decent drive one must thread a shot onto the green guarded close by the pond on the right. Shots drifting right tend to kick further right. 
Shuksan 9th hole The 9th hole, a 405 yard par 4, is no bargain after 8. From the blues you have a forced carry over a pond/Ten Mile Creek. From here you hit to a green guarded by bunkers and another pond down the left. In this picture the green is off to the left side. The practice range can be seen coming down the hill more towards the middle of the picture.
Shuksan 11th hole The 11th, a 172 yard par 3 is one of the more scenic holes. Here you are offered a fine view of the Cascade Mountains after that arduous climb up to the tee box. . Not a difficult hole in particular as the green is quite wide, however be prepared for a long putt if you are not near the pin.
Shuksan 12th hole The 12th hole is a 389 yard dogleg left par 4 from an elevated tee. You can attempt to cut off some yardage by driving over the fairway bunker in the bend. The green is guarded by a lone bunker on the left side. If you miss, miss right.
Shuksan 13th hole The 13th hole is a 570 yard dogleg right par 5. You can see the clump of trees on the right which is about the last place you want to be. If you really crush one you may get to the top of a rise where you can see the green which is all carry over a stream/pond. There isn't much margin for error for those going for the green in two.
Shuksan 14th hole The 14th hole is another par 3 at 175 yards but it plays longer as it is uphill and required you to carry the ball to the top. Two bunkers guard the right side and one sits to the left.
Shuksan 15th hole The 15th hole is shorter par 4 at only 326 yards from the tips. If you look close you can see the edge of the green on the right on the tree line. Unless you can carry the ball that far, a lay-up shot is best as the green is extremely elevated. There is also a creek wandering down the left to catch any long straight miss or pull. Best to take a long iron or lofted fairway wood an lay up. 
Shuksan 16th hole The 16th hole is a 409 yard par 4 that plays from an elevated tee over a hackers pond. Tee shots hit left kick to the right. In fact you want to favor the left side. If you hit it big you will end with a view of the green for your 2nd shot. Balls that hit into the bank left near the cart path will tend to stay there leaving a blind shot. Green is a decent size target.
Shuksan 17th hole The 17th, a 369 yard par 4 shouldn't cause too many problems. The landing area is pretty generous. The only real hazard is a creek running in front of the green before it goes uphill. Big hitters may have to be concerned with this creek, and others may from the more forward tees. 
Shuksan 18th hole The 18th home hole, a 526 yard par 5 which can be reached. Long hitters beware that a water ditch crosses the fairway in the area one might hit the tee shot. Once that is negotiated, shoot to a green guarded by 3 bunkers left, right and rear. There is also another bunker before the green on the left side to catch those stray left shots that don't quite have enough gusto to get there.

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This Page last updated 02/01/99