Shining the Star of the Pacific Northwest – New Upgrades For Salish Cliffs Golf Club

By – John R. Johnson – 

Kamilche, Washington

Since its grand opening in September of 2011, the Gene Bates designed Salish Cliffs Golf Club has garnered the adoration and awards from every major golf ranking organization. From Golf Digest to GolfWeek and GolfAdvisor to local television’s, Evening Magazine, you will find Salish Cliffs Golf Club in print and film. 

To name a few of our favorites . . .

  • Top 100 Public and Top 100 Resort Courses in the Nation
  • Top 10 Casino Courses in the Nation
  • Best Courses You Can Play – Washington 
  • The #1 Ranked Course in Washington State

In addition, not only has the facility been ranked #1 in Course Amenities, it is also the #1 ranked Golf Shop in the State. One of our favorite and most unique awards, happened in 2012 when the golf course was certified as the world’s first “Salmon-Safe” golf course. A real testament to the ecological minded Tribal course’s treatment of the land and its resources. 

The last eleven years have been a true climb to greatness. It reflects a total team effort by all parties involved.  On the agronomy side, one of the brightest stars is the long-standing course superintendent, Robert (Bob) Pearsall. His tenure started with the course grow-in at the end of construction. His meticulous care in preparing for the opening and continued tutelage is responsible for the award-winning immaculate condition of the course today. Another advantage of having Bob on site, is that is a home-grown local, which gives him a lifetime of understanding the unique weather conditions of the Southern Puget Sound region. 

However, to stay on top, you can never rest and be happy with status quo. So in 2022-2023 the course will undergo a two-year minor facelift with several new projects slated to keep Salish Cliffs Golf Club at the top of the ratings mountain.

So often in the world of Golf Architecture, a renovation goes to a low-bid new face or an industry brand name. In this case, they did go with a prominent industry brand – Gene Bates, the very same person who propelled the course to the original media awards and accolades. Why rock the boat of overwhelming success? 

So trusted is Gene and his team, they are also slated for several master planning improvements for the entire facility.  A show of respect of Gene’s vision for the entire facility.

Planned Golf Improvements 

Bunkers – Over time all bunkers wear down, especially in a location that averages 90 inches of rainfall a year and had a one day total last year of 7.4” plus a monthly average of 9.2”. Gene will go with the Better Billy Bunker liner to help hold the sand and will stylistically change the bunker shapes and edges for a new look course wide.

Tees – The course is well used by a wide variety of players with strong fluctuations between ability, age groups and sexes. So not only will some renovations of the current tee locations be helpful, Gene will also add multiple forward tees to make the course more playable for all.  

Bridges – They too can age with time, especially in a rain-heavy environment such as Salish Cliffs near Shelton, Washington. The new bridges will have a specific style to match the building architecture and look of the course. 

Tree Thinning – More than most locations, eleven years in the Pacific Northwest will produce tremendous tree growth. It can quickly change the playability of a course and continued maintenance with tree growth planning must be constantly considered. 

Irrigation Ponds – Even in a high rain environment, irrigation is a premier asset. The course drains well, so additional irrigation ponds not only aid in controlling drain runoff, but also utilizes that runoff to maintain daily peak course conditions. 

Practice Area Improvements – The course has created a real increase in play and new players. To develop long-term players, a course needs to help them improve their game skills. Not only will Gene’s upgrades improve the practice areas and driving range, as you will see below in the site master plan improvements, the driving range renovations might provide event opportunities as well.

Site Revenue Improvements

As a Tribal Casino location, the site is loaded with amenities and potential for additional revenue streams. They are already blessed with a hotel, dining, spa, RV spaces, conference and gaming. The master plan looks to expand those amenities with the following improvements. 

Bungalows & Cabins – Private cabins are about as Northwest as it comes. The creation of stay and play opportunities right on course is a perfect pairing and expands the hotel room night capability. Sighting and locating them is part of Gene’s master plan visions.  Who knows, perhaps one of the new nearby irrigation ponds might be stocked with trout for an added thrill for all ages.

Driving Range Amphitheater – An additional use for the range may be a venue for weddings and special events. Close to everything and a good scheduled use of open space.

Expanded Clubhouse – To mirror the outdoor event expansion capacity, having an improved clubhouse capability will help draw event organizers to choose the Club and Casino in future years.

It appears that the near future 2022-2023 renovations are going to make as much of a visual, playability and revenue impact as the original course for this growing and vibrant Pacific Northwest location. 

For more information on this project or to inquire about your next grand idea, contact Gene Bates directly at the “Quick Contact” information listed below.