STANWOOD, Wash. -- General Manager Steve Stensland remembers the early days of Kayak Point Golf Course back in its prime.
"It was the public guy's private club in the trees," he recalled. "It was incredibly maintained."
The 6,719-yard course, designed by Ronald Fream in 1977, is a fine municipal course owned by Snohomish County that appears poised for a rebirth. There are plans to invest $500,000 into the 260-acre property over the next three years, Stensland said.
He said improvements will include leveling and expanding tee boxes and updates to the clubhouse. What doesn't need upgrading is a scenic and serene routing that roams through some of the tallest trees in the Pacific Northwest. The peaceful setting attracts golfers seeking refuge from the city. Kayak Point is located roughly 50 miles north of Seattle.
Seattle resident Doug Days, who played the Kayak Point on July 4, considers the layout a fun challenge.
"I would play here all the time. It's got a great variety of holes," he said. "It feels different all the time. What we like is if you pay $50, you don't hear anything. When you play in Seattle, you hear the freeway and the noise."
Kayak Point Golf Course: Tall trees and rugged terrain
Players begin their descent into the forest at the first tee with a par 4 that tumbles downhill off a ridge.
This high point houses the clubhouse and impacts three holes. The par-4 10th hole provides the same opportunity as the first, the chance to bomb a tee shot downhill. That advantage is offset by the arduous climbs back uphill on the par-5 ninth hole and the par-4 18th hole, which plays like a par 5.
During the round, golfers encounter some rugged terrain, random boulders, just 34 bunkers (most near the greens) and thousands of old growth firs and cedars that dictate the lines of play.
"Those trees feel taller than skyscrapers," Stensland said.
The par-5 second hole doglegs hard right after an elevated tee shot. The unique eighth hole climbs uphill to a ridge before dropping to a blind, severely slanted green guarded by a front trap.
The most interesting hole is no. 14, a par 4 with two different fairways separated by a thick grove of trees. Players who go up the right fairway face a tough uphill approach over a large bunker.
"There are a lot of risk-reward shots," Stensland said. "You don't need a driver on most of the holes, but it's fun to challenge those doglegs and try to reach those par 5s in two."
Kayak Point Golf Course: The verdict
Kayak Point Golf Course is quintessential Pacific Northwest golf. It's a casual place where jeans and all handicaps are welcome. The layout and conditioning were good during my visit. The poa annua greens can putt slow, although -- considering their slopes -- that might not be a bad thing. Factoring in the sublime setting and pending improvements, Kayak Point is definitely worth seeking out.