Top Five: Seattle/Tacoma Area

View down the No. 10 hole at Chambers Bay

NO. 1 COURSE: CHAMBERS BAY

LOCATION: University Place, Wa.

DIRECTIONS: From downtown Seattle, take I-5 south to Exit 130. Left on Tacoma Mall Dr., and then a quick right onto S. 56th St. After three miles this becomes Cirque Dr. Turn left on Grandview Dr. W. Chambers entrance will be on the right, 6.1 miles from I-5, one hour from Seattle.

PHONE: 877-29LINKS (web site: chambersbaygolf.com)

OPENED: 2007 (Architect: Robert Trent Jones II)

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,585 yards (five tee positions).

GREEN FEES: (May-September) Non-Pierce County resident: $119 Monday-Thursday; $155 Friday-Sunday, Holidays. Pierce County residents- $89 Monday-Thursday., $109 Friday-Sunday, Holidays.

LOWDOWN: Chambers Bay is a links-style course, meaning it’s a walking-only course that is wide open (one tree on the course), on sandy soil, close proximately to the water and features fescue across the entire course, including greens.

When the course opened in 2007 it was rated the best new course in America by Golf Week, Golf Magazine and Travel & Leisure Golf magazine. The USGA was involved in the project from the beginning and in 2008 announced that the 2015 U.S. Open would be played there. The U.S. Amateur was played at Chambers in 2010.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 10, par-4, 365 yards. The wide fairway off the tee squeezes into a narrow gap at the green’s entrance, between two large sand dunes. It looks natural, but the fairway was once covered with sand as high as the adjacent dunes. It had to be punched through.

NO. 2 COURSE(S): GOLD MOUNTAIN

LOCATION: Bremerton, Wa.

DIRECTIONS FROM SEATTLE: Take I-5 south to Exit 132 (Hwy 16). Travel over the Narrows Bridge, then go 25 miles to Hwy 3 South (Belfair/Shelton). Turn left. Go through stoplight, crossing Hwy 3S to stop sign. Turn left on W. Belfair Valley Rd., two miles to entrance. It is 45 minutes from Exit 132, one hour from Seattle. By Ferry: Take the Bremerton ferry out of Seattle, 55 minutes. Given advance notice, the course will send a van to pick up and drop off. It is six miles from the ferry dock.

PHONE: 360-415-5432 (web site: goldmt.com)

OPENED: 1971 (Cascade); 1996 (Olympic) (Architect: John Harbottle III).

GREEN FEES: Monday-Thursday, $38 ($28 Cascade). Friday $41 ($30 Cascade) Saturday-Sunday, Holidays $49 ($39 Cascade).

LAYOUTS: Olympic, Par 72, 7,104 yards (four tee positions); Cascade, Par 71, 6,707 yards (four tee positions).

 

Placid par-3 16th at Gold Mountain

LOWDOWN: These are quintessential Northwest courses, where you get a real taste of the region, tall firs, lush meadows, fresh air and quiet vistas. It has attracted the 81st U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in 2006, the NCAA Men’s West Regional in 2008 and 2010, the PING/Golf Week Invitational in 2009, and the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur.

The layout sits on a area’s water shed so there is no development around the entire complex. About the only sounds you hear are the club striking the ball and the ball striking the trees.

SIGNATURE HOLES: (Gold) No. 9, par-5, 582 yards. The fairways offers a wide area to land but unless you are a real big hitter, your second shot will be blind down a hill. The slope narrows to a long green on the left and water on the right, quite treacherous. (Cascade). No. 1, par-5, 452 yards. A fine introduction as the hole arches to the right as you enter the forest. The green is protected by bunkers on each side with a hill in back.

Heading back to the clubhouse at Kayak Point's No. 18 hole.

NO. 3 COURSE: KAYAK POINT

LOCATION: Stanwood, Wa.

DIRECTIONS FROM SEATTLE: Take I-5 north to Exit 202, 116th St. NE. Take first right onto 34th Ave. NE. At traffic light, turn left on 136th Ave. NE. It becomes 140th NE. Go seven miles and turn right on 156th St. NE. The course is on the left.

PHONE: 360-652-9676 (web site: golfkayak.com)

OPENED: 1977 (Architect: Ronald Fream)

GREEN FEES: (winter rates): $25 Monday-Friday; $35 Saturday-Sunday, Holidays

LAYOUT: Par 72, 6,719 yards (four tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Consistently rated one of the top public courses to play by Golf Digest, Kayak is simply a fun layout. There are steep hills, severe doglegs – left and right- some fairly long tee carries, short but precise par-3s, all carved through a Northwest forest.

It’s definitely a course where you’ll need a cart because of the terrain. It’s also a course where you’ll need to play all your clubs. It’s always among the lowest priced in the region, making it the best bang for your buck.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 14, par-4, 420 yards. This is a split fairway with a large grove of fir trees between you and the green. If you hit your drive left, you need to carry about 200 yards in order to have a clear shot at the green. If you go right you’ll also need about 180 carry but must position the ball to the right of the fairway to see the green.

NO. 4 COURSE: WHITE HORSE

LOCATION: Kingston, Wa.

DIRECTIONS FROM SEATTLE: I-5 North to the exit for the Edmonds-Kingston Ferry. Ferry takes approximately 20 minutes. Exit ferry terminal, stay in left lane, go two blocks to Iowa Ave., turn left. Go straight through the first stop sign to the second stop sign and turn left onto S. Kingston Rd. Go approximately 2.3 miles. You can walk on the ferry and the course’s van will pick you up and drop you off. FROM BAINBRIDGE: Take SR-305 across Bainbridge Island onto bridge at Agate Pass. Turn right at stop light just off the bridge. Stay on main arterial to Indianola Rd. Turn right. Go to S. Kingston Rd. and turn left. After approximately one mile, White Horse is on the left.

PHONE: 360-297-4468 (web site: whitehorsesgolf.com)

OPENED: 2007 (Architect: Cynthia Dye McGarey, niece of famed architect Pete Dye)

GREEN FEES: (May-September) Monday-Thursday; $35 ($30 with Players Card). Saturday-Sunday, Holidays, $49 ($45 with Players Card).

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,093 yards (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Golf Digest selected White Horse as one of the top new courses in 2007. It was purchased by the Suquamish Tribe in 2009 and changes were made to make it slightly easier. It’s a true test of golf, through the fir and without any structures on the course.

It is a magnificent layout. Every hole is beautifully shaped. The par 3s are long and the par-5 are monsters, a wonderful walk through virgin forests.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 18, par-4, 435 yards. It’s the only hole with water, all along the length of the hole on the left side. Trees line the right side. It can be a nervous tee shot as you have to thread the ball between water and woods. Your second shot also is difficult as the green and the water merge.

Wht Seattle as a backdrop, Newcastle's 17th green

NO. 5 COURSE: GOLF CLUB OF NEWCASTLE

LOCATION: Newcastle, Wa.

DIRECTIONS: From Seattle, go East on I-90 over Mercer Island and three miles past the I-405 exchange. Take exit 13, Lakemont Blvd. Turn right onto Lakemont. Go through light and continue 3.3 miles. Turn left at 155th Ave. (course sign). Turn right on Six Penny Lane and go up the hill.

PHONE: 425-793-4653 (email: newcastlegolf.com)

OPENED: 1999 (Coal Creek); 2001 (China Creek). (Architect: Robert E. Cupp)

GREEN FEES: Every day – Coal Creek: $135 ($100 for Oki Card holders); Every day – China Creek $95 ($75 for Oki Card holders).

LAYOUT: Coal Creek, Par 71, 6,632 yards (three tee positions); China Creek, Par 72, 7,024 yards (three tee positions).

LOWDOWN: Folks in Seattle cherish their views, the mountains, meadows, water. When you arrive at the parking lot at Newcastle, you understand the reason why views are so valued. It’s spectacular. You’ll also pay a little more for that view here.

The course has a wide view of Seattle, the Puget Sound, Olympic Mountains, islands and even Mt. Rainier. If you take time to look around you will be rewarded. They are courses that you have to adjust to the elevation changes and know your yardages. In the summer, a bagpiper plays at sunset.

SIGNATURE HOLE: (Coal Creek) No. 17, par-5, 510 yards: Your approach to the green will be over a rock quarry and waterfall that guards the front. (China Creek) No. 10, par-5, 474 yards. A lot of elevation change and risk/reward approach to the green, needing to work the ball left to right.

- Bob Sherwin