The Coeur D'Alene Resort review

March 17, 2008 3:20:20 PM PDT
Ever see Defending Your Life? It's an Albert Brooks film in which he plays an advertising executive who dies, goes to a grand resort in purgatory called Judgment City, and meets Meryl Streep. There, people wear robes. The sky is blue, the grass is blindingly green, and guests eat or drink as much delicious food or wine as they like without ever gaining weight.

Perhaps Albert Brooks found his inspiration from The Coeur D'Alene Golf Club and Resort. That's what I was thinking, anyway, as our bus cleared the entrance gate, rolled through a pampered, mounded landscape, and then parked in full view of the world famous 'floating green'. You'll know it when you see it. I think I remember a television commercial describing it as 'priceless', but in reality, that green cost about a million dollars to build, and attracts some thirty-thousand errant shots per year. After your shot, a little boat ferries you across the lake to sink your putt. On board, a seemingly endless supply of fruit-flavored lollypops.



Have a lollypop.

You will marvel at how the skipper, in a white uniform with four gold bars on each shoulder, guides the boat effortlessly into a tiny dock on the island green. "You're very good," I complimented her.

"Don't go overboard," she countered. "This boat is on a cable," she confessed, and it's true. Not only is the boat cabled to the island, but the island to the shore. Every day, somebody moves the floating green in or out to distances ranging from 87 yards to 225 yards.

"Do you ever move it when people are swinging?" I asked general manager Bill Reagan.

"Oh no, we would never do that, " he reassured me.

The floating green is The Coeur D'Alene's 17th at Pebble Beach, minus the barking seals. Perhaps if there had been seals present to drown out my inner doubts, I might not have missed from 170 yards.


Bye-bye four dollar ball.

"Try another," suggested caddy Ethan Dodson. "Everybody gets two shots." Hence, those 30-thousand balls in the lake, and if every golfer pays as much for his balls as I do for mine, then there's gold in that water. Maybe Ethan works on commission from the diver who scoops them out several times a year.

"What's the strangest story you can tell me about the green?" I asked.

"Bachelor party," said Dodson, who has caddied, there, for eight years. "After playing the green, they stripped buck naked, jumped into the lake, and swam to party boat where, ugh, some dancers were waiting."

Great. So more than golf balls enter that chilling water.

I am not going to lie by describing The Coeur D'Alene resort course as the finest in the world, but, at $250 for outside guests, its over-the-top service and accoutrements may render your over-the-top swing irrelevant.

It begins with the driving range, where I'm certain the helpful staff would tee balls for you, if you asked. The range balls float, I might add, because otherwise, we would never see them again. Hit 'em, and watch the ripples. I figured it would make good practice for that floating green.

If ever a golf course received pedicures, this would be it. Each of the eighteen holes averages more than two attendants. One gets a feeling that architect (((( )))) designed The Coeur D'Alene resort course more for the eyes than for the intellect, with oversized bunkers framing, grand scale elevation changes, and water, water, wherever possible. First-time players will deal with multiple intimidation factors, but if they play the course smart, they will score.

Following our round, general manager Bill Reagan took us for a walking tour of the hotel spa. Take notes, here, because this is the bribe you use when bringing your wife here. While you golf, she gets mudded, massaged, has a facial, gets her nails done, and maybe pops an extra 25-dollars for seven minutes in one of two showers that cost 100-thousand dollars to build. That's 100-thousand dollars each. Inside, eighteen nozzles pelt you at eighteen temperatures and eighteen different water pressures.

Here's my theory. If a restaurant in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, charges five-star San Francisco prices, it had better be good. This place delivers.

We began with a performance by sommelier Eric Cook, who used a sword to open our first bottle of Taittinger 'Prestige Rose' champagne. Pop, fizz. It tasted so good that I didn't feel sorry for any of the guests who may have suffered collateral sprayage several floors below.

That champagne proved to be the first of six delicious vintages we sampled through the evening, which concluded with Bonny Doon Framboise, and a 20-year old Graham's Tawny Port. Six is one-third of eighteen, but if he had showered us with any more, they would have needed to carry us out.

I'm not a person who often takes photographs of other people's food, and no, I do not work for Denny's, but these presentations inspired me.