Golf News for Friday, June 23, 2006 | Courses

Circling Raven in Idaho named top Indian casino resort in U.S.

WORLEY, Idaho -- Circling Raven Golf Club – the sparkling amenity of the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort & Hotel in the scenic Idaho Panhandle – today announces it has been named No. 1 among the nation’s Indian casino golf courses by Native American Casino magazine.

Designed by acclaimed golf course architect Gene Bates, Circling Raven will be featured in the publication’s August issue, which focuses on golf in Indian Country and unveils its “Top 10” tribal golf course list for 2006.

The complete Top 10 list will not be released until late July, says Editor Melanie Dellas. The formula for rating courses, she says, is based on the honors they have accrued and positive reviews in various media.

“Circling Raven is gorgeous, it’s very challenging, it’s beautifully maintained and it’s constantly garnering positive media reviews,” says Editor Dellas. “We’re also impressed with Circling Raven’s natural beauty and its attention to the environment. This was a pretty easy decision for us.”

There are 54 tribal golf developments in the U.S., many with more than one course and virtually all of them part of a resort property. Native American casino resort golf is one of the industry’s hottest niches and includes many of the nation’s most highly regarded courses, including the Tom Fazio-Jerry Pate designed Azaleas and Oaks courses at Dancing Rabbit Golf Club in Mississippi, the courses at Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, N.Y., and Las Vegas Pauite Golf Resort, which features three Pete Dye-designed courses

“Circling Raven and Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel are extremely honored by this best-in-class distinction, particularly considering the quality of Native American casino resort courses in the nation,” says Circling Raven Director of Golf Dave Christenson.

This is the latest of many accolades for Circling Raven despite its relative youth (it opened in 2003). It has been named a “best-of” course by Golf, Golf Digest, Zagat Survey and Golfweek Magazine.

Fairways and Greens magazine listed the golf club No. 7 among its “Top 101 Golf Experiences in the West.” That ranking placed Circling Raven in the same echelon as Bandon Dunes and Pebble Beach.

Circling Raven, a member of the Idaho Golf Trail, is also certified with the Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary System. Director of Golf Christenson was named PGA of America Northwest Section “Merchandiser of the Year” for 2005, and the golf club was last week honored with the “Service Excellence Award – June 2006” by the Coeur d’Alene Area Chapter of the Idaho Department of Commerce and Labor.

For more information about Circling Raven Golf Club or the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel, visit, or call 1-800-523-2464.

About Circling Raven Golf Club and Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort & Hotel

Convenient to Spokane (WA) airport, the resort and golf club are owned and operated by the Coeur d'Alene Indian Tribe on a reservation covering 345,000 acres of mountains, lakes, old-growth forest and farmland. The resort spans the western edge of the northern Rocky Mountains.

Golf, gaming (video gaming machines, off-track betting, bingo), top sporting and entertainment events, fine dining, plush lodging and a spectacular array of natural resources define the resort.

Designed by Gene Bates, Circling Raven was created amid a unique blend of wetlands, grasslands and woodlands. At 7,189 yards, the par 72 championship layout meanders through 620 acres, only 100 representing cultivated ground. Wildlife is abundant, including elk, deer, moose and an occasional black bear. In fact, the opening was delayed due to damage on two greens by migrating elk.

The player’s experience is that of a links-style course. On the back nine, the only hole a golfer can see is the hole he or she is playing. Wetlands impact play on 13 holes, natural grasses complement the wetlands on 16 holes and a mix of Ponderosa Pines, Aspens, Cottonwoods and Birch blend into the scenery throughout. The blue grass fairways and bent grass greens are closely manicured, as would be expected at a premier resort golf course.

The player’s greatest challenges are “Tees and Threes,” meaning accurate driving and careful management of the four par 3s, all measuring over 200 yards from the back tees. White sand, brought in from Emmet, Idaho, fills 60 bunkers.

The course namesake is revered in Coeur d’Alene tribal lore. Tribal history also tells us that Circling Raven was a spiritually powerful leader, his name coming from his close relationship to the raven, who helped guide him on his journeys, warn him of danger and show him where to find fish and game.

Club Specifics

Amenities: The clubhouse is 6,500 square feet, including the Twisted Earth Grill and full service bar. Both locker rooms include showers and lockers. The practice facility covers 25 acres; separated into areas for wedges, sand play and all clubs in the bag. The resort adjacent to the course includes 202 hotel rooms, casino, events center, buffet, and restaurant, off track betting and conference/convention facilities.

L93 Bent Grass Greens, Bluegrass tees, fairways and rough

Dan Shepherd, Buffalo Communications