Golf Course Review: Birch Ridge Golf Course in Soldotna, Alaska
10 Jan 2012
by AmateurGolf.com Staff

see also: Birch Ridge Golf Course, All Course Reviews


By Jeff Hetrick

Birch Ridge is located on the Kenai Peninsula near the Kenai River, famous for its king salmon fishing and the small town of Soldotna - -- a three hour drive south of Anchorage. The course is a public, nine-hole par 35 stretching to 3,000 yards over a series of hills.


Separate tee boxes for a second nine require different shot-making skills. The course is short by most standards but the uniqueness of the terrain offsets the distance to make a very challenging golf course.

The course was “home made” by clearing trees, and moving soil and has been continually redesigned over 30 years. The challenge of the course comes from the hard panned narrow fairways that often kick the ball through the rough into the trees which border every hole.

These trees are heavily rooted and it is rare that you advance the ball directly toward the hole. Because of this, it is rare to complete a round without navigating the “jail” which quickly adds to your score.

The second challenging aspect of the course are the sloped greens which can be cut for tournaments to make a three putt a relief. Another unique feature is the fringe of the greens is one mower width before it translates to 2” or higher rough. A well struck shot that rolls off the green can find the player faced with a severe angled lie in deep rough two feet off of the severe sloping putting surface.

All of these attributes coupled with the difficulty of tending to a golf course in Alaska’s climate make for a challenging task.

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One of the most unique aspects of my home course is the generous youth golf program. Because of this an unusually high number of young golfers are playing in college, mini tours or are young professionals. The nurturing staff and unforgiving course has trained some fine golfers.

There is another nearby course in the town of Kenai which is another 18 holes of difficult terrain and a slope of 144. The annual “Walker Cup” competition between the two courses and towns highlights the golf season.

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