Named after a pioneer ranching family who once owned vast swathes of land above Idaho’s gorgeous Lake Coeur d’Alene, the Gozzer Ranch Golf & Lake development was established in 2007 with the opening of its Tom Fazio-designed golf course. Enjoying views across an elevated woodland and out over the still waters of the lake, this private community was developed by the Discovery Land Company from Arizona and includes nearly 400 home sites as well other amenities. Though all aspects of the development are first-class, the primary attraction is without doubt Fazio’s beautiful golf course.
Built across land that was once used for dairy farming, the Gozzer holes are set atop a broad peninsula-shaped plateau, with the lake visible on three sides. Skilled at incorporating natural features into his designs in a dramatic manner, here Fazio was able to set some holes right by the edge of a rocky bluff looking down upon the lake. Others were pressed against the rim of a canyon. Even those away from the abrupt landforms are often oriented in a way to ensure that the full scenic appeal of the region is on display.
Pleasingly, while the Fazio holes are beautiful to look they are also walkable and fun to play. His routing flows nicely from green to tee and seems to interact better with its environment than some of his other creations. This is largely due to a naturalistic bunkering style, which gives holes a genuine timeless appeal. Complimenting the rough-edged sand traps and gnarly waste areas, are angled green sites that sit down on the ground more comfortably than many by this designer and more comfortably than many other courses in this region. Sadly, much of the golf around Coeur d’Alene seems overtly modern and manufactured.
As is usually the case at a Tom Fazio course, Gozzer Ranch is very much a second shot test with less focus on strategic placement off the tee and more on hitting short grass and then greens in regulation. Some of the shots of note include the angled approach into the 6th green and the stunning second into the 15th, with distant views of the crystal blue lake. Other standout holes include the plunging par three 3rd, the canyon backdrop on the 11th and the almost outstanding 12th, a split fairway par four with multiple routes to the putting surface.
Remnant rock formations, dramatically used on the 3rd hole, are also incorporated into the par three 7th and 17th holes to good effect. The 7th is essentially set within a shallow clearing surrounding on all sides by converging rock ridges, while the 17th sits on a ledge with a glorious rocky bank as its backdrop. Less successful is the otherwise attractively built 4th hole, a short par four with a large boulder guarding the green but few real strategic choices to make from the tee. The lay-up, wedge option is far too appealing for most golfers here.
Aside from fighting a hillside at the 16th, the routing at Gozzer is impressive and the use of lake backdrops and distant outlooks is very well handled. The course has an exciting blend of holes and plenty of half-par type gambling options. The conditioning is also first-class. When you combine the excellent facilities with nice turf and a very strong set of holes, you quickly understand why Gozzer Ranch has so many fans.
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