PORTLAND, Ore. – The Giant Sequoias that pepper Columbia Edgewater Country Club are the first sign the LPGA is back in the Pacific Northwest each year. However, Annika Sorenstam used to need just one roll of the flatstick to know she was back at the home of the Portland Classic Presented by Cambia Health Solutions.
Sorenstam, perhaps the greatest women’s golfer of all-time, once described the greens at the course where she won twice as the best she’d ever seen.
As usual, the 1925 design – one of the West Coast’s great old courses – is in similar condition this week as the LPGA returns to the tournament that’s been ongoing since 1972.
“I loved it. Before I came to the golf course, I was super tired and my caddy was super tired, but after we saw the golf course I’m like, we are totally awake,” So Yeon Ryu said, laughing. “This is a beautiful place.”
It’s a stark contrast from the last two weeks, too. Monroe Golf Club, host of the Wegmans LPGA Championship, and London Hunt and Country Club, host of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, had large rolling fairways and big green complexes for players’ second shots. The challenge at those places was on the greens and hitting it in the right spots.
That’s not the case here, where the fairways are as narrow as any on Tour.
“It’s more like we need to be creative because it’s not just going for some of the holes, dogleg right, dogleg left, so we need to be creative players,” Ryu said. “And I do love that kind of golf course. I think it’s good for me.”
There was heavy, penalizing rough the last two weeks but the fairways were wide enough that players said you could still challenge them with driver. That’s not the case here. The fairways are narrow and the shape of the holes requires precision.
“It’s just pure. The greens are really good. The layout is phenomenal. Kind of some tight tee shots, but it’s an old classic design, which is my favorite,” Marissa Steen said. “And just the scenery is breathtaking.”
Those narrow fairways make it more of a driving accuracy contest than many weeks on Tour. Hit driver amiss often and a player won’t have a chance here.
“Especially to get more of your scoring irons in your hands, to give yourself better chances for birdie, you definitely have to hit a lot of really good tee shots, especially coming,” Steen said. “The last five or six holes are definitely narrower than your last.”
None any narrower than No. 17 – the 397-yard par-4 with bunkers lining both sides of a highway-width fairway with a pond right and perhaps the most penal of all obstacles on this course closely lining the fairway – the trees. Miss the fairway here and the biggest issue might not be the rough but rather getting blocked out by one of the massive Sequoias and Redwoods that dote the fairway like concrete barriers line an interstate.
“The trees are just – they’re monstrous, right? So back east you can kind of work around them. There ain’t any working around these trees,” Steen said, laughing. “They’re pretty gargantuan, beautiful. But I definitely – it’s not trying to hit it over there. And the trunks are massive.”
Based off her practice round Tuesday, Steen might need to take a look around the sky before she hits to keep from getting startled.
“I think my favorite part this morning was when the fighter jets were taking off from the airport,” she said. “That was pretty cool. You could feel the ground shaking a little bit. That was awesome. Everything’s been perfect so far, and I haven’t seen a blemish out there.”
Just like Annika said.
Topics: Portland Classic