All systems go: Riverbend Golf Course opens this week

Pete Petersen

Pete Petersen

Golfers can expect plenty of changes at the redesigned Riverbend Golf Course. It opened Wednesday.

Holes No. 5, 6 and 8 are completely new. There are 17 new bunkers or sand traps. Nine holes feature new tees.

“The biggest change is we tried to make it more fun,” said Pete Petersen, director of operations at Riverbend, a golf course along West Meeker Street owned by the city of Kent. “We dramatically changed the look of the front nine from what people are used to. Three holes are longer and four are shorter. There’s a different look off of the tees.”

City officials closed the front nine holes last fall after nearby Green River levee repairs and expansions by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers forced several of the holes to be moved. The back nine holes remained open.

The $1.25 million course project also includes 250 new trees and a new, 12-foot high, chain-link fence between the course and the Green River Trail, which reopened last weekend. City officials installed the fence to keep balls on the course away from the popular walking and biking trail that runs along the top of the levee next to the course.

Nearly 200 members of the Riverbend men’s and women’s clubs competed Saturday in a tournament to christen the new course.

“The main thing we tried to do is we lost a little length on some of the holes, but we gained length on other holes,” Petersen said. “We moved bunkers down to challenge the longer-hitting and better players.”

Numerous golfers signed up for tee times on Wednesday to try the new course.

“There’s a ton of people excited to play it,” Petersen said. “I hope they like it.”

Course designers made major changes to holes No. 4, 7 and 9, including new tees and bunkers.

“I think they are all good improvements,” Petersen said.

Petersen worked with John Steidel, a Tri-Cities golf course architect, to redesign the nine holes. Steidel designed the original Riverbend course in 1987. The course opened in 1989.

The biggest challenge for Steidel and Petersen turned out to be how to squeeze the holes into less space.

But the moving of fairways, tees, greens and sand traps will give many of the holes a new look and present new challenges to golfers.

Bernhardt Golf, of Beaverton, Ore., received $757,000 from the city to construct the new holes last fall. Other contractors were hired by the city to install the fence and plant the trees. Crews finished work on the trees and fence last week.

King County, which oversaw the levee repair through the King County Flood Control Zone District, will pay the city about $1.9 million for the relocation of the holes. That figure includes more than $500,000 to the city for lost revenue when the nine holes were closed from September through March.

City officials plan to have a 20th anniversary party for the course in June. An exact date for the celebration has yet to be determined.

The cost to play the course is $28 for 18 holes Monday through Thursday and $32 Friday through Sunday. The cost for nine holes is $16 weekdays and $20 weekends. Those rates will go up in May.

For more information, go to or call 253-854-3673.

If you go

What: 18 holes of golf

When: Dawn to dusk, 7 days a week

Where: Riverbend Golf Course, 2019 W. Meeker St.

Cost: $28 Monday-Thursday, $32 Friday-Sunday (April rates)

Contact: or call 253-854-3673

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