Gamble Sands Golf Course Review, Background, Info and Experience
Gamble Sands came up on our radars a few years back after receiving the #1 public golf course rating in Washington as well as many other high national ratings and accolades. It also raised a little more excitement when learning it was designed to be a true links course designed by David McLay Kidd who had already won our golfing hearts at Bandon.
It is located near Brewster city in Okanogan County, North Central Washington. Having never traveled to this part of the country I didn't know what to expect and was rather surprised. It is a high arid desert setting that is drastically different from Western Washington.
The course is owned by the Gebbers family whom oversee a massive orchard production in the area. They originally started the Gamble Sands project with a master 36 hole plan that first included the Gamble Cliffs course but was halted development when the recession hit in 2008. In 2010 when they decided to re-initiate the project they chose to build The Sands course open today.
To get to Gamble Sands we flew into Spokane and rented a car. Plan for close to a 3 hour drive through a mixture of visually pleasant landscapes. As aforementioned, the Gebbers run a major orchard production and you will pass through a few of these orchards as you approach the course. Since the drive took a little more time than expected we had to quickly change and get a few swings on the range to work out the travel stiffness. And than its game on!
The Sands Course is sand based (hence the name) with light fescue, large firm fairways and greens, and plenty of desert scrub and natural bunkers. The elevated setup provides specular views of the Columbia river, Cascade mountains, and valley.
We played three rounds on the course and enjoyed every moment. It is a fun player friendly course with scoreable layout including generous fairways and greens. It also includes shorter holes with driveable par 4s which adds a lot of drama in gambling competitions with multipliers for eagles and birdies.
Trouble can be found with some massive bunkers, tight lies and drop offs. Length comes into play from tips where you need to carry over trenches and will have harder approaches into several protected holes. The 6th hole par 3 from the tips was over 260 yards and required placement abilities if you wanted a high probability par. The good news is you can use the slope on the right to funnel onto green.
Other signature holes included hole #2 a drivable par 4 with killer views down the valley. Make sure to take a rip for the green. Hole #7 par 5 with a classic risk/reward angle options. If you take the risk angle the approach shot is a short-to mid iron shot in with excellent eagle opportunity. On the back nine hole #14 par 4 is another fun option oriented hole with double-fairway providing differing degrees of angles into the green.
For the first round we selected the golf boards which was fun but they can be a little squirrelly on the hills with undulated paths requiring tight turns and bump navigation. Definitely give them a run if you haven tried them.
Another interesting element of Gamble Sands being near orchards is the sound of gun fire regularly occurring in the background. Don't worry nobody is shooting at you, it is fake recorded gun shot sounds through speakers to scare away wildlife from the orchard and it is not loud or cause a distraction when focusing.
We stayed at the Inn at Gamble Sands which is fantastic modern rustic setup with the Cascade putting course right behind and incredible views of the Columbia River. The Club House is near by with Danny Boy restaurant that served plenty of satisfying options for dinner and lunch.
We were informed they are in the process of building a second course that will also be designed by David McLay Kidd. The addition of a second course will add value in having additional options for multiple day trips to this remote location.
Find New Ground and take the WYLD1 suggestion to gamble it all at Gamble Sands.
GO BIG HOLES
2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 13, 15, 18
ON THE LINKS