- 1. Seattle Golf Club – Private
Sure, I may be biased (Full disclosure; I’ve worked there and have family that are members) but you’ll be hard pressed to find a club with more history and mystique in Washington. Not the longest golf course around, but with its many doglegs, elevation changes and towering evergreens it can still provide a tough test of golf. I’m a huge fan of courses with history and that’s why The Seattle Golf Club tops my list.
Best hole; the par 3, 11th, looks like it belongs in Augusta, Georgia.
Must Do: If you ever the chance to play, you have to stop in and check out the Men’s locker room. Probably one of the top “classic” locker rooms you’ll ever come across.
- 2. Sahalee Country Club – Private
What more can you say, but that’s it’s going to become a 2-time major championship host. Ever want to play golf through a city and its high rises? With Sahalee’s massive trees and tee shots that make you feel like you’re in an alley it certainly gives you the sensation of hitting down a city block. Aside from being a great design, one thing that isn’t talked about a lot is how the homes that line most of the golf course are set back in the trees and are hardly noticeable, future developers take note! A must play if you ever golf in the Washington.
- 3. Chambers Bay – Municipal
I’ve only played here once, but came away with mixed emotions. The general idea and layout of the course is amazing and you can’t help but picture the massive crowds that will be perched high above the course looking out over the entire course. In terms of venue alone, I think Chambers Bay has a chance to be one of the best sites to ever hold a US Open. There are numerous spots in and around that golf course where spectators will be able to see over three different holes. One huge negative for me was the uneven tees that Robert Trent Jones II purposely put there. His thought was the adjust the tee box’s slope to help offset prevailing winds. Example; for a tee shot that is typically into the wind, RTJ II would set the tee box with a slight downhill slope to it naturally lowering the ball flight of the tee shot. I think that after the USGA come through for US amateur and US Open to fit the course to their standards I think you’ll really see what this beast (Rated 76.9 from the tips) is capable of.
- 4. Tumble Creek – Private
I get the feeling that my day out at Tumble Creek is probably pretty typical. We arrived around 10:30 to find out that we are the second group out there and the group ahead of us was taking the turn as we were teeing off the first hole. Also, it’s the only Tom Doak design within reasonable driving distance of Seattle and truly worth the hour long commute if you get the chance. Every hole has a great view and like all Doak designs, really fits in with its natural surroundings. I played it when it was fairly new and I’m really looking forward to playing it again in the future.
Best Hole: The par 4, 9th is an absolute gem of a hole. A tough 455 yard par 4 requires you to hit it long off the tee and then from an uphill lie, attempt to hit a cut into the green that is slightly tucked away back and right of the hole. Even though it goes back to the clubhouse, there isn’t any sign of life anywhere out there and as you can see the canyon is beyond the green making for an aesthetically pleasing approach shot as you will find.
- 5. The Members Club at Aldarra – Private
A fairly new club that feels like it’s been around for decades. Aldarra is the first and only Tom Fazio design in the area. Built on the original Boeing Farm, this manicured gem is one of the top clubs in the state. I think that due to some of its membership issues, or lack there of, Aldarra doesn’t get the credit it deserves. The absolute only drawback is how long it takes to get out there. Other then that, Aldarra is a great track that offers great views and a wide range of shot options.
Best Hole: The par 4, 438 yard 18th is a beast of a hole. An uphill tee shot that slightly doglegs right makes it tough from tee shot to green. It’s eerily similar to Riveria’s par 5, 18th in terms of shot shape off the tee. If your lucky enough to find the fairway the green is well protecting on both the left and right sides by deep bunkers and the green itself slopes predominantly front-right in front and back-right towards the back.
- 6. TPC at Snoqulamie Ridge- Private
When this track was first built it had the potential to be one of the best on the west side of the state. The layout is great and it has some of the best views around. It was the first post tiger, PGA ready golf course in the state and although they didn’t land a PGA event they did land a Champions Tour event that has been very praised for its facility by both players and fans. Unfortunately, Weyerhaeuser owns the property and used it as the driving force behind a HUGE residential development around the course. When the course first opened, there was only houses on one hole, the par 4, 2nd, but now you can see homes on 15 of the 18 holes and to top it off, the homes are cookie-cut track homes that isn’t consistent with the quality of golf course.
Best Hole: You can’t go wrong with hole 14, Bear’s Canyon. A tempting par 4 that is the definition of a risk/reward shot. With ESA (Environmentally Sensitive Area) lining the whole left side of the any shot at the green that misses left is an immediate re-tee and played like a lost ball. However, if you have the wherewithal to pull it off, eagle is a definite possibility. You must carry the ball at least 270 yards to attempt to go for the green, but because it plays significantly downhill, long hitters (290yard +) need to only hit a 3 wood.
- 7. West Seattle Golf Course- Public
As I was going over my list I realized that I only have one public golf course on the list so far so I must add a personal favorite of mine to the list right now. I love the West Seattle Golf Course. Sure, it isn’t the toughest track and isn’t always kept in the best shape, but the character of the place is tough to beat. With its old clubhouse with the sign that boasts that it was the host site of the 1953 USGA National Public Links Championship. Also, another little known fact is that the architect, H. Chandler Egan, with the help of Dr. Alistar Mackenzie, was also responsible for the redesign of the layout that we are still familiar with to this day, Pebble Beach GC.
Best Hole. No surprise here, the Par 5, 515 yard 12th has always been known as one of the best holes in Seattle. However, this hole should be played as a par 4 and it would truly be one of the best if that were possible. When I look at this picture all I think is one thing, “My two favorite things in the same picture, the city of Seattle and golf.” It doesn’t get much better for me!
- 8. The Golf Club at Newcastle- Coal Creek- Daily-Fee/Public
Newcastle without a doubt, is the best facility to host a large corporate or private golf event. The amenities that Newcastle has to offer are second to none in western Washington. The golf course offers some of the best views of a major metropolitan that you will ever find from a golf course. On a sunny clear day you can see both downtown Bellevue and Seattle, Lake Washington, and the scenic Olympic Mountains. The course was built on Rabanco’s original dumpsite and situated on top of a hill. Because of that, you will find some severe elevation changes that give it somewhat of an amusement park feel. A lot of forced carries make it difficult for the average golfer, but for the more advanced golfer the length make it a stiff test.
Best Hole: The par 5, 510 yard 17th is a great hole that is another high risk/high reward hole. The tee shot is one that you want to favor the left side of the fairway and let it rip! If you can land the ball on the down slope, the ball will race at least 50 yards father down the fairway making for a much easier second shot into the green. The second shot requires strong nerves however because any miss long and right is dead and with one shot this hole shifts from an easy birdie hole to a scrambling bogey or par if you are lucky. Not to mention that the second shot is to a green that looks like it falls off into downtown Seattle.
- 9. Overlake Golf and Country Club – Private
Situated in the heart of Medina, Bellevue, and its no wonder that this course makes my list. Overlake is your prototypical parkland style golf course that rewards accurate shot play. Other then the first holes (awkward dogleg right around the practice range, this course definitely falls under the saying “what you see is what you get.” This course has drastically improved is drainage issue that plagued it for much of its early years and now makes its very playable all year round. Always kept in great shape, Overlake has some of the truest, fastest greens in the state in peak season. One of the better walks around!
Best Hole: The par 4, 7th back at the clubhouse is one of the toughest holes on the course. A long drive is required it get it close because you need a short iron in to make sure you put it in the correct spot on the green to give yourself a legitimate shot at birdie. A tough green that slopes severely from the middle of the green down back towards to fairway, it severe undulations makes a 3 putt highly probable.
- 10. Washington National Golf Club – Public
Home of the Washington Huskies, this course is one of the longest courses in the state from the back tees. A great layout with a variety of reachable par 4’s and par 4’s you’ll have a very hard time reaching in regulation. I really think the bunkering at Washington National is superb. Fairly wide open off the tee, this course requires you to be long off the tee and precise with your irons as most of the greens are divided into sections due to its undulations and force you to go flag hunting most of the time.
Best Hole: The par 4, 358 yard 15th is a beautiful hole. An amazing green awaits a rather simple, but blind tee shot that really only requires a 3 wood or hybrid. I love the backdrop to this hole as well as the creek that runs in front and wraps around the left side of the green. Not a tough hole, but its beauty really separates itself from the others.