Coeur d’Alene’s floating green is one of golf’s most dramatic par 3s

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho – The par-3, bonus 19th hole at Tiger Woods’ new Payne’s Valley Ranch at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri grabbed plenty of headlines and social media love this week as the course opened on national television. Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Woods and Payne Stewart’s son, Aaron, hit balls there to open the course with an exhibition match Tuesday.

That hole stretches 140 yards to an island green at the base of dramatic rock cliffs. Very cool. I was fortunate to play the main 18 holes at Payne’s Valley the day after the exhibition, but the bonus 19th was closed to allow the new sod to grow in.

But to prove correct all the folks who tell me I have the best job in the world, on Friday I played what might be an even more dramatic par 3: No. 14 at Coeur d’Alene Resort in Idaho.

The target is a floating green that weighs 2,100 tons – that’s 4.2 million pounds – and is connected to underwater cables that allow the green to be moved. It typically plays anywhere from about 100 yards off the forward tees all the way to 220 off the tips. The green is moved farther offshore each fall as the lake’s water level drops.

The base of the green is made of concrete cells and Styrofoam. The height of the island from bottom to top is 16 feet – about 11 feet in the water and five feet above the lake. The green is 55 yards wide and 35 yards front to back, and the island features brilliant flower beds, three trees and two bunkers. The water is about 25 feet deep.

With all that water, water everywhere, players dump plenty of tee shots into the drink. But environmentalists need not worry, because each year a diver fishes out all the balls, anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 of them.

Players travel to the green on a little boat named Putter that also is attached to a cable. A captain runs the boat, and the trip takes just several minutes.

Course architect Scott Miller built the floating green at the insistence of resort owner and developer Duane Hagadone. It’s all part of a par-71, 6,803-yard layout that opened in 1991 and ranks No. 3 in Idaho in Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play list for best public-access tracks.

Miller renovated the 15,000-square-foot island in 2019, removing about 100 tons of sand to allow the island to float higher. The green was re-sodded, irrigation was upgraded and new wood panels were installed.

For the record, I managed in wind and rain to hit the green with Friday’s pin 183 yards away – but of course I missed the downhill 20-foot birdie putt. It’s an amazing setting, so I’ll blame that for the miss.

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