APRIL 28, 1997

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Sports

Golf-In' the Northwest: A satisfactory test at Echo Falls

golf by Chuck Reidt
Bear Creek Country Club, McCormick Woods, Desert Canyon, and Echo Falls. What these golf courses have in common is their designer: Jack Frei, whose stepsons attended and played for the Woodinville High School golf team.
   The first three courses carry big reputations for their challenging and panoramic layouts, while Echo Falls remains the slightly anemic and unheralded sibling.
   Echo Falls, just off Highway 522 on the way to Monroe (turn off on Echo Lake Rd.), stretches to only 6,104 yds when standing on its toes, but can still offer any golfer a very satisfactory test of their game, particularly the two finishing holes considered by many to be the best in the Northwest.
   Number seventeen is a par four that plays 462 yds. from the back tees. OB stakes guard the left side of the fairway and a small lake protects the right side. A big drive off the tee still leaves a long iron or fairway wood to a narrow green that bends around the lake, requiring a high approach shot over water to hold the green.
   Number eighteen is not a typical finishing hole, a par three, but a great par three--the best island green this side of Lake Cour d'Alene. It plays about 150 yds. entirely over water to a large green.
   The other sixteen holes offer a variety: from a short drivable par four (No.3 over water) to par fives that with summer's roll are reachable in two for players with only above average length. The six par threes range is from 110 yds. to 203 yds., with the exception of the very short tenth hole. The par threes and No. 9 and No. 17 par fours offer the most resistance to scoring.
   The course is well conditioned with constant upgrading. The greens are typically flat and in good shape. The course offers several pluses: the course itself with its two great finishing holes, the clubhouse facility, and the restaurant with a small lake setting and striking architecture. There is a small but adequate driving range and two small putting greens.
   If you like to walk a golf course, you may reconsider at Echo Falls. There is substantial distance from green to tee on a lot of holes, some with steep terrain.

Echo Falls Golf Course: 20414 121st Ave. SE, Snohomish
   Phone: (360) 668-3030
   Par: 70
   Yardage: 4,947 to 6,104 yds.
   Rating: 68.9; Slope: 126
   Green Fee: Weekdays $29, weekends $39
   Cart Rental: $12 per person
   Twilight Rates: $15-$25