The Sunday morning following Thanksgiving was grim—a little gray and cold with only a hint of rain. I was still digesting turkey and swallowing my Husky pride after they “couged” it at the Apple Cup. The Seahawks were going to play an away game, and we know those never end well, so I thought maybe getting up off the couch and playing some golf over at Lake Padden Golf Course would be a killer idea.
Due in large part to the aforementioned gray sky, impending rain and ‘Hawks game, the course was wide open. Lake Padden is a phenomenal city owned course near the heart of downtown Bellingham. The fairways are wide, but the massive cedar and fir trees that line them play visual shenanigans with your senses and squeeze them down (visually at least) to the width of a bowling lane.
Many of the greens are protected by sand bunkers—but not the kind of sadistic traps you’ll find at St. Andrews. These are more of a gentle little reminder that you didn’t execute your approach shot very well, rather than a firm slap on the wrist by an angry nun. There are also some wonderful ponds filled with water plants and ducks. You’ll often see a doe and fawn grazing along the fairway or sneaking out for a sip. The water hazards line, rather than cross the fairways so only come into play when you really want them to and have some money on the shot.
The greens will cause newcomers a little grief; just remember that heading toward the lake (west) they are really fast; away from the lake (east into the morning sun), really slow. That one tip may save you a stroke or two.
The average golfer will have a really pleasant day here; it is really a magical place. However, there is one hole that I find disturbing to a point of being unfair and that is the Par 3 4th. It’s only around 160-yards but is uphill to a sloping green and causes all kinds of havoc with what could have reasonably been considered a fairly good shot. Trust me; it will cause someone in your group to swear.
Thanks to a rigorous annual program of sanding the fairways, the course drains and plays pretty dry after a rain but on cold frosty days, some greens that are protected by trees never thaw out so if there is frost in the morning, there’s a pretty good chance the course will open pretty late if at all.
Overall, Lake Padden us one of my favorite courses in the county and being a city park, it is extremely affordable and consequently can be a little overpopulated (aka: slow) on really nice days and weekends. If you’re like me and can swing it, choose a mid-week day after the morning regulars have left the first green—around 10-11 and you’ll have a wonderful experience. Add gray sky, impending rain and an away Seahawks game and you’ll have the place to yourself!
CLICK HERE to read Part II for the story on what made this day so definitive.