Usually, when a fellow golfer suggests playing from the “tips” I just shrug, laugh and head straight for the white tees. However, this past week, playing from the “tips” took on a whole new meaning when four of us played the Point Roberts Golf & Country Club.
For the uninitiated, Point Roberts is a 5-square mile geographic anomaly. While connected to the British Columbia mainland, this little uvula-shaped tip of land dangles down below the 49th parallel so is actually a part of the United States. More specifically, it is in the Washington State county of Whatcom. Typically, in order to get there from Bellingham, you’d have to pass through Customs four times; twice going up and twice coming back. Well, that is unless you take advantage of “FLIGHTPOOLING” aboard Northwest Sky Ferry, which is precisely what we were lucky enough to do.
Our group consisted of Cameron Healey, publisher of Golf Today Northwest magazine; Larry Farr, Executive Director of Whatcom County Association of Realtors, my friend Barbara and me. Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism made our travel arrangements.
We crammed our gear and bodies into the small aircraft at around 10:00 and after a 15-minute flight that seemed as much like a Disney ride as a mode of transportation, we caught sight of a very neat man-dredged marina and a green strip of grassland that I soon learned was our runway. Welcome to Point Roberts! We were greeted by a delightful young woman, Samantha Scholefield—described as head cheerleader and tourism champion of all things Point Roberts. Samantha’s infectious enthusiasm and love for the place had us all grinning from ear to ear from the moment we hopped in the Hummer she had borrowed for the excursion until she delivered us to our destination.
After an all-too-brief 45-minute tour of what seems and feels like more like an island than a peninsula, we got to the golf course. I haven’t mentioned yet just how high the humidity was… well, OK… let’s just call it rain. And even though it had lightened up to a sprinkle during our tour, the minute we stepped onto the course, the clouds sprung a huge leak and dumped on us… like walking-through-a-car-wash dumped on us and it kept up for nearly 2-hours. Many less hardy folks would have pulled the plug, started crying and run home to momma, but being true northwest golfers, we geared up and sojourned on. Indeed, what had started as a mere golf outing had now become an adventure, even though at some point at nearly every hole, Barbara would lean out of the cart and mutter, “You guys are just weird.”
The course is really quite pretty; carved out of a forest it has tight tree-lined fairways, a few natural wetland water features and fairly large undulating greens. I stopped counting lost balls after six, but of course blamed the rain for nearly every one of them. Certainly my lack of skill could not take any of the responsibility. Right?
We made the turn, grabbed a towel, a sandwich, and a couple beers in the restaurant/lounge then headed for the back nine when, lo and behold, we spotted something we had not seen all day. While tending a flag for Cameron on the 10th green, I apologized, “Sorry, did my shadow distract you?” Shadow? The rain had stopped and there was actually a little ray of sun peeking through the clouds. And so it went the rest of the round. Outside of a couple of temporary water hazards that usually served as greenside bunkers, the fairways and greens drained nicely and, regrettably, we could no longer blame a single errant shot or lost ball on the weather or course conditions.
After the round, our hosts took us back to the airstrip for our return flight to Bellingham. I have now played every course in Whatcom County and have to say, I simply cannot imagine a more definitive northwest corner experience than we had on this day. The short “Disneyesque” flight, the grand tour, the dandy course, some new golf buddies and yes, even the rain made this one of the most remarkable and memorable days I’ve enjoyed this year. I am most definitely looking forward to a return visit.
Go. Play. Golf.