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Gold Mountain’s Olympic Course No. 9, a 621-yard par 5, makes the list on our Dream Course as the eighth hole. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Gold Mountain’s Olympic Course No. 9, a 621-yard par 5, makes the list on our Dream Course as the eighth hole.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

It’s another beautiful August day in Kitsap County and you and three golfing buddies are about to complete the outward nine and make the turn, bringing to an end the first part of the day’s round of 18.

So far, you have no complaints; your round has gone pretty smooth considering the difficulty of the holes played so far.

You’ve survived all 621 yards of the par-5 ninth hole at Gold Mountain’s Olympic Course only to step on the tee box and face the scenic but demanding tee shot at McCormick Wood’s picturesque fifth hole.

Not possible you think? Well, anything’s possible on the Bremerton Patriot’s Fantasy Golf Course, which includes the 18 best golf holes in and around Kitsap County as voted on by the people that know them best – local golfers.

A poll conducted through interviews and e-mails of golf course owners, general managers and instructors, as well as weekend warriors, has produced the top 18 holes in the area.

These holes include some the hardest on the Olympic Peninsula — as well as some of the easiest. Some holes are listed just for their beauty while others found their way into the top 18 because they have been the setting of some golfer’s most memorable shots – both good and bad.

And as luck would have it, the 18 holes come out to a par of 72 and play at a length of 6,677 yards. The holes come from predominately three courses in the county, Trophy Lake Golf & Casting and McCormick Woods in Port Orchard and Bremerton’s Olympic Course at Gold Mountain, but that should come as no surprise to anyone who has played a round or two in this area.

But there are a few holes from other courses scattered throughout this course.

This issue takes a look at the front nine while the Aug. 6 issue of the POI will cover the back nine and other holes that received consideration.

So grab a new sleeve of balls and a handful of tees. You’re going to need them.

No. 1 — No. 7 Trophy Lake Golf & Casting, par 5, 547 yards: A good score can be had on our starting hole, if your tee shot finds the fairway. That sounds easy with an 80-yard wide target in front of you but this fairway has our course’s largest bunker sitting smack dab in the middle of the target area.

A tee shot to the right side leaves a long approach to a down-hill green guarded by a pond on the right side. The ideal shot is to find the 30-yard wide landing area down the left side of the fairway far enough down to leave a go at the green.

If forced to lay up, make sure and lay up short of the waste area that begins the downhill slide to the green.

“You don’t see too many holes with trouble right down the middle of the fairway, but that’s what makes this hole stand out to me,” said Kitsap County resident Karl Kelch. “Even if I’m forced to lay up, birdie is still a possibility, and any hole that gives me that option, I like.”

No. 2 — No. 5 Gold Mountain, Cascade Course, par 4, 423 yards: With a narrow and rolling fairway, the tee shot is key here. A long, straight shot will get over the hill and leave you with a look at the green on the approach.

But the long second shot makes this hole tough as the green slopes severely from left to right, and when the pin is placed back right, look out.

Anything short leaves one of the toughest putts you’ll ever face and keeping the ball on the green takes some deft tough and local knowledge.

“Just a great hole,” Trophy Lake General Manager Mark Knowles said. “A long par 4 with a slick, tough green – it’s just a good, tough hole.”

No. 3 — No. 12 Trophy Lake Golf & Casting, par 4, 421 yards: A blind tee shot is the least of your worries here. Well, almost. An errant drive could hit bunkers on either side of the fairway while a short drive leaves a blind, downhill approach. But a well-placed shot up the hill on the left sides give you the best look at the downhill second shot to a green well protected by bunkers.

It’s here that club selection becomes critical – the more club you are forced to use, the more difficult the shot.

“The green was designed for an approach shot with a wedge,” Knowles said. “Coming into this green with a long iron just won’t work; the green won’t hold that kind of shot.”

No. 4 — No. 7 McCormick Woods, par 3, 122 yards: May be the most innocent-looking par three you’ll ever see. But looks are deceiving at this gem.

In an age of long par 3s, this short-but-slightly-uphill hole can ruin a good round in one bad swing. The green wraps around a waste bunker filled with deep grass that is constantly collecting short shots with its false front.

If you find yourself in the bottom of the “catcher’s mitt,” good luck getting close to the hole with your second. And if a tee shot should go long, watch out for a downhill putt that will flat-out scare you.

“I think I spend more time in that grass bunker than anywhere else,” Mike Stephens said via e-mail. “You stand on the tee box with a wedge in your hands and you think, easy par. But that’s not the case - at least not for me.”

No. 5 – No. 12 McCormick Woods, par 4, 329 yards: The view from the tee box gets this hole as much notoriety as anything. On a clear day, Mount Rainer dominates the horizon but a well-placed tee shot is needed to score well on this hole.

Aim for the bunker on the left side of the dog-leg, and don’t forget about the hidden water hazard that gobbles up errant attempts at cutting the corner down the right side. A long iron placed out in the middle of the fairway is the way to go here.

“It’s one of the more scenic holes we have up here,” Robert Olson of Bremerton said. “And it’s a hole that you can get an easy par on if you keep it in the fairway. It’s just one of my favorites around here.”

No. 6 – No. 4 Port Ludlow, Timber Nine, par 4, 428 yards: One of the tougher holes around and one of the few outside Kitsap County that made the list. Requires an uphill tee shot just right of center to get a good view of a very well-protected green, one that slopes severely from back to front and is surrounded by Evergreen trees on three sides.

The opening in front of the green isn’t very wide so a precise approach is needed.

“Its nickname is the Cathedral Hole,” Port Ludlow general manager Kevin Earl said. “The green is surrounded by an old growth of trees and it’s just a beautiful hole with a creek running down the right side. It’s the toughest hole we have on our course.”

No. 7 – No. 17 Gold Mountain Cascade Course, par 3, 167 yards: A medium-range hole that requires a tee shot to carry a ravine into a sloping back-to-front green. Anything short is dead and anything right is really dead. Golfers can bailout left or long but don’t ever be short.

And with a tee box enclosed in trees but a green out in the open, the wind, when it is blowing, can play havoc with a shot, especially when it’s coming at you.

“I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something about this hole that I really like,” James Olsen said by e-mail. “Sometimes I do well on it, and other times I stink it up. But this hole is always in my head every time I play Cascade.”

No. 8 – No. 9 Gold Mountain, Olympic Course, par 5, 621: By far the longest hole on this 18 and a sure three-shooter for most golfers. Requires two solid shots to set up a nice approach into a green that can’t be seen until the third shot, and sometimes not even then as the fairway takes a decidedly downhill turn.

Water surrounding the right side and back doesn’t really come into play, but the pot bunkers lining the right side do. It was the original No. 18 when Olympic opened and is a good, solid hole – par is always a good score here.

“Long, long, long. Did I say long?” Silverdale’s Matt Diehl said. “I dread stepping on that tee box every time I play here, but when I walk off that green with a par — which doesn’t happen very often — but when it does, it’s a nice feeling.”

No. 9 – No. 5 McCormick Woods, par 4, 351 yards: McCormick’s signature hole on its front nine, this hole forces an immediate decision – lay up short of the marsh with an iron or take a chance and try to hit the narrow landing area to the right with a fairway metal or driver. But the decision making doesn’t end there as the approach to a long but narrow green guarded by more marsh land to the right and a bunker left can leave an almost impossible uphill put.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve hit a great tee shot to see it be too good and disappear in that crap,” Allen Albery, over from Seattle, said. “I’ve heard of guys trying to take it over the water but I’ve never seen it and I’d have to see it to believe it. Still, it’s a challenging hole and one that makes me feel good when I do play it well.”

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