Bellingham: A hot bed of great golf

Updated: June 2, 2020

Being so close to the border, both Canadian and American golfers are drawn to the Bellingham golf courses

Up in the far Northwest corner of Washington state offers up some great golf with a wide variety of golf courses to test your game.

The area north and south of Bellingham booms with golf personality and championship caliber challenges. Bargain prices, stellar maintenance, beautiful layouts and breathtaking views, combined with the upcoming pristine spring and summer weather, makes the Northwest corner of the state a can’t-miss golf destination.

There’s always a finely-tuned layout to play, a posh place to stay and a price that’s guaranteed to be well worth the investment.

Shuksan Golf Club

With the Shuksan Golf Club in Bellingham, the theme is nature. There are wetlands throughout the golf course and the first bit of water trouble comes into play on the very first hole.

Elevated tees and greens are prominent throughout the layout as the course varies over 100 feet in elevation. Ten Mile Creek meanders throughout the layout and cuts across many of the fairways to keep golfers on guard.

Shuksan Golf Club added length to the course recently and it now stretches beyond 7,000 yards from the back tees. And as a result the ratings from the white tees went from 121 to 131. Newly re-designed bunkers, water features and more have added to the course. Golf Digest has always rated this outstanding course with four stars since opening in 1991, and the course keeps that rating year after year. 

A new 250-seat outdoor terrace has opened for golf events, wedding receptions and more. The Clubhouse Grille is also a hit with golfers.

North Bellingham Golf Course

North Bellingham Golf Course opened in 1995 and is a Scottish style links golf course. The openness leaves one exposed to the elements and one’s game at the mercy of the wind at times.

The greens are firm and fast, making a balky putter something to leave at home. The well-manicured greens roll true and put a premium on good putting.

The layout offers 12 ponds, making 14 of the holes play with a water hazard and 58 white-sand bunkers. In fact, a two-year bunker project with new sand in all the bunkers throughout the course was completed in 2014. North Bellingham also has plenty of holes which grab your attention early and keep it the rest of the round.

There’s plenty to like as you stand on the first tee at North Bellingham and look at the links layout, including the course being one of the driest in the area and a course with some of the best greens you will putt on. 

Loomis Trail Golf Club

Loomis Trail was ranked as the No. 1 public course in Washington by Golf Digest (2005) and was the only Washington state course ranked in the nation’s Top 100. Loomis Trail, open to the public on even days of the month, combines the magic of scenic beauty and dry conditions suitable for year-round play.

The course recently was purchased by the Lummi Nation Indian Tribe and they have made sure the course has stayed true to its opening with great conditions and a layout which is one of the most challenging in the Northwest.

Loomis Trail also is partnered with the Silver Reef Casino Resort and has packages catered to the golfing crowd. A Stay and Play Package, Birdie Package and Eagle Package all offers golf, hotel stay and more. The Eagle Package comes with two nights, $10 free play, $100 resort or pro shop credit, breakfast for two and unlimited golf

Semiahmoo Resort

 The 18-hole destination resort, located in Blaine, offers an award-winning golf course that is one of the top ranked courses and extremely challenging with plenty of water hazards to add to the fun.

Tree-lined Semiahmoo, ranked the No. 3 public course by Golf Digest (2005), offers five holes with water and a course that can stretch to 7,005 yards from the tips. This course is open to the public on odd days of the month. Some great golf and a restful stay at the resort are sure to be a winning combination. 

Semiahmoo features a tough one-two punch with hazard-filled hole Nos. 11 and 12. Water lines the right side of the fairway at the 371-yard par-4 11th hole and flanks the green, making both the tee shot and approach tough on even the most skilled golfers. No. 12 is a 173-yard par-3 requires a tee shot over water. There is bailout room left to avoid water, but miss it right and you and your shot are in big trouble.

Semiahmoo Resort is also home to the Jeff Coston Golf Academy.

Homestead Golf Club

Homestead Golf Club is located on the outskirts on Lynden on what was once dairy land. The course plays to 6,927 yards with a slope of 140 from the back tees. The fairways are generous and water comes into play on many holes but because the course is very flat it is often not visible from the tees or fairways so to prevent any surprises, refer 

to the yardage book for safety. The course is well bunkered so golfers must be careful and again, use the yardage book. Reviews of the course repeatedly refer to the great service by the staff. 

The signature hole is the par-5 525-yard finishing hole with an island green (the only one is the state) that offers gutsy long hitters the opportunity to go for the green in two, but the shot requires a precision shot to carry the water and to hit the island green. If you stay dry a birdie is a possibility, but par is still a good score on this beautiful hole. Golf Digest once ranked the hole’s green as one of the nation’s top island greens. 

Sudden Valley Golf Club

Sudden Valley Golf Club is known for its two distinctly different nines. The front nine, which winds past the southern shores of Lake Whatcom, is relatively flat and open. The back nine, which feels carved from a forest, wanders through the trees and offers some narrow fairways and variation in elevation. 

The Bellingham course was designed by Ted Robinson and ranked a four-star offering by Golf Digest.

Avalon Golf Club

The kingdom of Avalon, home of All-Day golf – Avalon Golf Links of Burlington is the only 27-hole facility in the area and well worth the 50-minute drive from the Seattle area. Three separate nines make up the 27 holes and are simply named the South, West and North Courses.

The name Avalon means an island represented as an earthly paradise in the western seas to which King Arthur and other heroes were carried at death, is a golfing paradise just off Interstate 5.

The Robert Muir Graves-designed course is a bargain all the way. Avalon offers an all-day promotion seven days a week, 365 days a year (rates vary depending on the day of the week). 

Camaloch Golf Course

Located on Camano Island, Camaloch Golf Course has not only an 18-hole championship course but also a par-3 course to offer during the winter months. 

Camaloch Golf Course is located in the Puget Sound’s Sun Belt and receives about one-half of the annual rainfall of nearby courses, keeping it dry year-round.

The course is located just 15 minutes off of Interstate-5, giving it easy access for those looking for a round right off the freeway. The course plays to 6,234 yards from the back tees but offers reasonable distances for all levels of players. If you like fast and true greens, then you will love Camaloch’s greens which are frequently rolled and mowed are known as some of the best to be found anywhere.

The course also features a new bar and grill called Rockaway. 

Holmes Harbor

Holmes Harbor is rated one of the top executive golf courses in Washington State, the 18-hole course is playable in just over three hours. The Par 64 course measures 4,279 yards, providing panoramic vistas throughout the course. The course is located on Whidbey Island.

 With a defined cut of rough bordering the fairways and undulating greens, the signature hole is #8, a 160-yard, Par 3, with a 100-foot drop in elevation from tee to green. 

 Owner/operator Paul Lavin has revamped the course over the last five years after being closed and abandoned multiple times. Multiple water hazards, sand and pot bunkers along with the narrow and wide fairways make Holmes Harbor a solid test. 

Whidbey Golf Club

Set in the midst of a quiet, lake and tree-lined glen of Oak Harbor you’ll find the natural beauty and unique character of one of Whidbey Island’s best kept secrets. Welcome, to Whidbey Golf Club, established over 50 years ago.  Whidbey Golf Club is a semi private, family oriented club. 

With its natural beauty, thrilling year-round play, and first-class dining facilities make WGC a natural choice for any occasion. Whether enjoying a round of golf, celebrating a wedding, or meeting for business, Whidbey Golf Club delivers an affordable quality that simply can’t be beat. Oak Harbor sits in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains resulting in an average annual rainfall 50% less rainfall than most of the Puget Sound area. 

Lake Padden Golf Course

If you are looking for some of the best in public golf, then look no further than Lake Padden, located just south of Bellingham.

The course has undergone plenty of great changes through the years and improved maintenance has the course featuring some solid fairways and greens that roll true. A traditional layout, the course has many holes that are tucked away in between tall tree-lined fairway and make you feel like you are on your own private, personal golf course. Some come out to play golf; others come simply for a walk in the park using golf as the reason. Lake Padden is part of the Premier Golf Club which means that their club card can be use here.

San Juan Islands

A trio of nine-hole courses including Orcas Island Golf Club, Lopez Island Golf Club and San Juan Golf & Country Club provide quality golf to vacationers in the San Juan Islands. Orcas Island is the oldest of the three courses, as it was designed and built in 1960. It’s a popular destination in summer and was recently purchased by a young local family, the Taylor Family. 

Swinomish Golf Links

The Swinomish Tribe got into the golf business by purchasing Similk Beach Golf Course and turning it into their own Swinomish Golf Links. The course is part of the Swinomish Casino and Lodge, a place with water views, RV parking, restaurants, gambling and more.  The golf course is also a good test and the tribe has put money back into the course to give a new look and some solid conditioning.

Gleneagle Golf Course

Located in Arlington, Gleneagle Golf Course was developed and opened in 1993. Playing just 5,949 yards from our championship tees, Gleneagle will test your shot-making skills while providing a relaxing, picturesque backdrop. With four sets of tees to choose from, our course is a pleasure for golfers of any skill level to play.  Test your accuracy with the water hazards and sand traps. The greens at Gleneagle have long been considered top rate.

Gallery Golf Course

This is a Navy-owned golf course in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island. The thing that gets your attention right away are the views. From just about every point on the course, there are views of the Puget Sound, Strait of Juan de Fuca and the mountains. On the course, there is also plenty to like. The back nine has some holes surrounded by trees but most of the holes around the course are open and offer those terrific views.