By Danny and Alice Scott
Circling Raven Golf Club at Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel in Idaho spans a wide-open, hilly range where you might imagine the buffaloes roamed. The first time playing, the vast layout and complexities are most impressive. When you circle back, there is a greater appreciation for the spiritual nature of the course while trying to conquer it. Unfettered by homes, the broad, slanted fairways are only intervened by the occasional ravine and 57 bunkers on this gorgeous Gene Bates design. Gene carved the golf scenes but it’s God’s show of milky clouds across the bright blue sky with a rainbow of colors popping out in trees, bushes, and wildflowers.
The operations and maintenance teams work beautifully together to preserve the nature of the Palouse Ridge on which the Circling Raven lies like hallowed ground. Hawks and eagles share the sky with the namesake ravens and hopefully a few birdies will land on the scorecard. The flowing fairways are adorned with native grasses and speckled with elk and moose though we missed them, photos give proof. Deer dance and beavers build on this nature walk with clubs. When the Epson “Road to the LPGA” Tour returns in August, the gals will be thrilled with both the course and the award-winning golf shop that offers the finest in today’s fashion apparel and has been twice named PGA of America Merchandiser of the Year/Resorts Category.
The Twisted Earth Grill at the course is great for a burger or lunch with a full bar to cap the round. Cuisine throughout the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort attracts foodies. Local uncultivated huckleberries are stirred into drinks, sauces, and desserts. Grab a smoothie to go from the Huckleberry Deli and wander the halls of the resort which is a gallery of tribal sculptures, leather, and beaded art. Stop at the Storytelling Teepee Room behind registration where nonstop history movies give pause.
The Red Tail Bar and Grill is front and center in the resort for a casual breakfast, lunch, or dinner while Chinook Lounge kicks the fine dining experience up a notch. The giant lobster tail looked fresh from Maine while the NW Seafood Alfredo and steak plates were equally enticing. Save room for dessert, which is a blast, literally. Our server (Felix) – who is grandson of the Tribal Chief – conjured ice cream from vaporous liquid hydrogen. It is like a tableside magic show. Do not try it at home but do indulge here for the creamiest treat with fun topping options.
Stay in the Mountain Lodge with indoor pool and jacuzzi to soothe the joints after golf or for more upscale lodging, choose the Spa Tower with its elongated rooms, leather bound furniture, Pendleton blankets, and closets built for both clubs and clothes. The Spa Ssakwa’q’n (pronounced Sock wah kin) is world class with water pools and a charming boutique.
Live entertainment is frequently scheduled such as King of Cage fights, musical tributes to Journey and Elton John or the flashback group, Commodores. If you’re a machine gamer, this is your draw to the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort with over 60k square feet of 1200 gaming options including a test area with new machine releases every month. It is open 24/7 with self-serve beverage stations or the Nighthawk Lounge or Wolf Den Bar ready for full service. Whether you gamble or not, the golf trifecta of Circling Raven, Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course and Kalispel Country Club pays off huge on the pleasure scale.
Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Club is 28 miles north, right on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Famous for the number 14 floating green – which golfers reach via a vintage mahogany boat named “Putter” – every hole is a manicured treat to play. The driving range extends into the lake with floating balls and lunch is served on the hill above for a stunning view while reviewing your round. Forward tees are very advantageous on most holes as is the caddie’s advice.
Kalispel Country Club is the former Spokane Country Club. As the story goes, a gal won the club membership in a divorce proceeding and was unhappy with her treatment, so sued for a lot of money resulting in the club’s demise and turnover. Kalispel is now not only female friendly but family friendly as evidenced by the afternoon outings on course. It is a gorgeous walk through the woods with bright purple tulips and fragrant lilacs in May. Starting in sunshine, we made it to number 14 when the siren called us in due to lightning, but we stopped to see the view from the highly elevated 16th tee. Dry and warm, the 1840 Restaurant beside the clubhouse served one of the best dinners we ever had. If you come for a day, you might want to stay and join the Kalispel Country Club.
Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel in Worley, Idaho was the first casino in the nation to reopen after the Covid closures, thanks to the brilliant leadership of CEO Laura Penney. It is about an hour drive from Spokane Airport which is very easy and efficient to maneuver. This is a part of Idaho you should you get to know and when you go, say, Lim Lemtsh, thank you to the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. Check out golf packages at www.cdacasino.com/golf