Where’s the best place to play golf on the West Coast? We’ll give you hundreds of choices.
Golferswest.com continues its annual assessment of the Top Five courses to play within 12 West Coast states and British Columbia. Today, the 25-part series focuses on: Washington/Seattle area
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, 45 minutes from Seattle.
OPENED: 2007 (Architect: Robert Trent Jones II)
GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site: chambersbaygolf.com
LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,585 yards (five tee positions).
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 to the water (Puget Sound) and features one of a handful of courses in the world with 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
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.
OPENED: 1971 (Cascade); 1996 (Olympic) (Architect: John Harbottle III).
GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site: golfmt.com
LAYOUTS: Olympic, Par 72, 7,104 yards (four tee positions); Cascade, Par 71, 6,707 yards (four tee positions).
LOWDOWN: These are quintessential Northwest courses, where you get a real taste and smell of the region, tall firs, lush meadows, fresh mountain air and quiet vistas. It has hosted 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 with 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.
NO. 3 COURSE: KAYAK POINT
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.
OPENED: 1977 (Architect: Ronald Fream)
GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site: golfkayak.com
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-yard carry but must position the ball to the right of the fairway to see the green.
NO. 4 COURSE: WHITE HORSE
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 if you call in advance. 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.
OPENED: 2007 (Architect: Cynthia Dye McGarey, niece of famed architect Pete Dye)
GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site: whitehorsesgolf.com
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 less difficult. It’s remains 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.
NO. 5 COURSE: SALISH CLIFFS
DIRECTIONS: From Seattle, take I-5 southbound to exit 104 in Olympia. Merge to US-101 N. Take W-108 W toward McCleary. Turn left on W108 W/SE Olympic Hwy. Course entrance is on the left.
OPENED: 2011(Architect: Gene Bates)
GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site: salish-cliffs.com.
LAYOUT: Par 71, 7,269 yards (three tee positions).
LOWDOWN: Rated the No. 4 Best Courses in the state by Golfweek, Salish Cliffs meanders through the Kamilche Valley with lush forests wrapping around 16 of the 18 holes. Opened in the fall of 2011, architect Gene Bates mixes in scores of low-bank white-sand traps in landing areas, making sure your shots are precise.
No. 9 and No. 18 share expansive 15,000 square-foot double green with a sparkling lake and wetland preserve to separate the holes. The warm cedar-style clubhouse overlooking the ninth green has a second-floor mezzanine with a balcony to watch play.
The Squaxin Island Tribe has taken pride in developing the course as an added amenity for guests at the Little Creek Casino and Hotel next door. The hotels offers seasonal rates for golfing groups.
SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 18, par-5, 537 yards. The final hole arches to the right along its entire length. Your tee shot actually should land near the apex of the arch, skirting sand traps short and far. A dilemma is posed for your second shot. Long hitters could go for the green, over water and protected by six traps in front and one in back. The more reasonable approach is a layup to the left of the hole, still fraught with trap trouble.
– Bob Sherwin