APRIL 7, 1997

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Golf-In' the Northwest: A Better (Not Wetter) Course

golf by Chuck Reidt
The Eastside's newest golf course, Willows Run in Redmond (opened in 1994), is high on my list of playable golf courses during spring's wet conditions. The links-style course features wide fairways with a thick lush turf that allows the ball to set up, and even during prolonged rain-soaked days resists the dark side of any golf course--good earth turned to mud.
   In spite of the ample fairways, trouble exists off every tee box. Rolling grass mounds, wetland areas, water hazards, and out of bounds stakes await the errant golf shot. Sand (the good silica kind) and grass bunkers are also well represented.
   The greens are moderate to large in size, well drained and firm, designed with subtle undulations and slope. Putting the greens will demand your attention for break and speed, but only to the point of making it interesting, not unfair.
   An unusual and much-appreciated feature of the course is the striped 150-yard marker stakes centered in every fairway; it feels "Scottish" and presents a visual target in your attempt to "split the fairways."
   Willows Run boasts one of the finest public practice facilities in the Northwest. It has covered, well lit and heated hitting stations on the driving range, complemented by a large sand trap and chipping green with a very large putting green. The pro shop is well appointed, but small. The restaurant, however, offers significant seating capacity with the outdoor patio area featuring a sweeping panorama of the golf course.
   Expect the green fees at Willows Run to be higher than most of the area public courses, but expect also a superior conditioned, interesting golf course that really is playable in our wet Northwest conditions.

   Willows Run: 1042 Willows Road, Redmond, WA
   Phone: (206) 883-1200
   Par: 72-18 holes
   Yardage: 5571 to 6812 yds.
   Rating: Slope 112-120
   Green Fees: Weekdays $29, weekends $39