YAKIMA, Wash. -- Golfers travel for miles to take on the apple-shaped island green at no. 17 at Apple Tree Golf Course and usually leave impressed by the entire experience.
Architect John Steidel designed the 6,971-yard course in 1992, cutting holes from a century-old apple orchard that continues to grow trees and bear fruit.
Six strong par 4s highlight the more scenic front nine. The first hole drops off a ridge before climbing to an elevated green. The beastly fourth hole bends right, revealing a valley at the foot of an elevated green. The fairway of the par-4 fifth hole cants severely right to left with water near the green. More water guards the approach shot to the seventh green and makes the tee shot on the ninth hole the most intimidating of the day.
Apple Tree's back nine winds through a housing development, although some nice manmade water features spruce up the setting, especially the waterfall at the par-5 14th hole.
Hitting the famous apple green from an elevated tee 180 yards away isn't reason to celebrate. There are plenty of tough putts on the tilted, massive, 14,166-square-foot green.
A tricky risk-reward par 5 ends the round in style. Water off the tee will require most players to lay up. The second shot will ideally land short of a creek, setting up a demanding approach shot to an elevated double green. Misses will roll back to the bottom of the hill below the green or end up in the huge apple-shaped bunker. It's a delicious finish to an inspiring layout.