Golf in Southwest Washington

Updated: August 30, 2012

There is plenty to like when it comes to Southwest Washington, an area that stretches from just north of the state capitol in Olympia to just east of Vancouver to the Washington Coast. Golf options range from 9 and 18-hole public golf courses, to some of the best country clubs in the Pacific Northwest. If you are heading to the Washington Coast to enjoy its natural attractions and to browse the numerous shops in the coastal towns then you will have plenty of opportunity to play golf along the way.

Take a look at what the area has to offer:

Tumwater Valley: Seeing double on par-3 holes
Tumwater Golf Course has several unique features that keep golfers coming back – like the second and 17th holes, both par-3 holes.

The second and 17th are unique in that they both have two greens. One green plays much shorter than the other, giving both the low and high handicap players different choices from the tee box. There are also two different sets of tees to choose from. Tumwater’s length is another challenge. The course stretches to nearly 7,200 yards from the tips, and when the wind blows, it plays longer.

A new restaurant called River’s Edge features fine dining and a deck with a view of the golf course.

Salish Cliffs: New course is an award winner
Salish Cliffs opened for play last year as part of the Squaxin Island Indian Tribe’s Little Creek Casino and was an award winner instantly. The Gene Bates-designed layout features rolling terrain, plenty of water and sand and was named one of the top new courses to open for play in 2011 by GolfWeek being ranked eighth. The course is also ranked fourth in the state of Washington by GolfWeek on the Best You can Play list. Salish Cliffs is also the first golf course to be awarded a “salmon safe” designation.

A practice range with multiple targets only adds to the fun before or after a round of golf.

Golf Club at Hawk’s Prairie: All-day option for golf
The Golf Club at Hawk’s Prairie offers two distinctly different courses – the Woodlands Course and the Links course. Each course has its own personality and special challenges with a series of tight driving holes and tough undulating greens.

As you might expect, the Woodlands presents tree-lined fairways and the Links, while more open, has its share of tree-lined fairways too. Both present challenging approach shots to large greens.

And if you want play a doubleheader, they have special deals for two rounds in the same day, it costs $89 weekends for two rounds, a cart, lunch and practice balls, and $79 for weekdays.

Camas Meadows: Front and back look different
Camas Meadows opened for play in 2000 and since then, golfers have finished their rounds thinking they played two different golf courses. The front is tree-lined with the back running through meadows and wetlands. It’s a unique and challenging course with plenty of birds to see along the way.

The course plays to 6,518 yards which is not overly long but with the narrow fairways and other obstacles, it’s good that the course isn’t any longer. Camas Meadows has a super practice facility – 300 yards long, with grass tees and 17 covered and heated stalls. There is also a practice bunker and pitching green. A gazebo and tent has the wedding business buzzing.

Tri Mountain: View of the mountains, actually three
The course that gets the most exposure from being near Interstate-5 is Tri Mountain in Ridgefield, just north of Vancouver. You can see virtually the entire course as well as Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood – hence the name, Tri Mountain. And don’t forget to hit balls into the watery driving range at Tri Mountain where you actually don’t get penalized for hitting balls into this lake.

The course is a links-style layout where you can see everything that is in front of you. The Bill Robinson-designed course offers plenty of sand and water to keep you focused.

Lewis River: Home of one of the longest par-5’s around
When the Lewis River spilled over its banks and flooded the Lewis River Golf Course in Woodland, Wash. in 1996, it was kind of like Mother Nature signaling it was time for a change in the golf course. The flooding ruined six of the nine holes on the back side of the golf course. Since then, owner Ralph Stading Jr. and his crew have rebuilt the holes adding new and challenging changes.

A fire in 2000 destroyed the golf shop and restaurant so a new one was built in 2001. There are two sets of nines that are distinctly different from each other at Lewis River. The front nine plays to 2,868 yards while the back nine is 3,499 yards and features a park-like setting, with holes running through trees with strategically placed ponds guarding some of the greens. The back side is also where you’ll find one of the longest holes in the Northwest – the par-5 12th plays to 649 yards.

Home Course: Views and a challenging course
The Home Course in DuPont has made headlines, not only for being one of the top courses in the Pacific Northwest but for also playing host to the qualifying rounds at the United States Amateur. The course held two qualifying rounds before the golfers headed to Chambers Bay for match play.

The Home Course is a treat with superb conditions, some great views of the Puget Sound along the way and some challenging holes. If you want a real golf challenge, step back to the back tees called the Dynamite Tees and see what golf is like from 7,300-yards plus. New bunkers give a new look on No. 11 and No. 12 making the course even better.

Riverside: Welcome mat is out for RV golfers
Riverside Golf Course in Chehalis has long been a popular stop for travelers on Interstate-5. Improvements have made the course even better, including faster greens, improved conditioning, new RV parking and a new restaurant.

The course is also home to one of the best amateur events in the Northwest called the Lewis County Amateur.

New ownership took over the course a few years ago and changes have been made to the course and clubhouse, including new sand in the bunkers and an expanded pond from the first to the ninth holes.

Green Mountain: A home course for golfers
Green Mountain Golf Course, located on the border of Vancouver and Camas, tries to make each golfer feel special. That, said General Manager Kevin Coombs, is the goal. Three statements help: Warm welcome, magic moments and fond farewells. “It’s a way for us to make golfers feel special about being here,” he said.

Green Mountain opened for play in 1999 and offers Southwest Washington golfers a special place to play. The course, designed by the legendary Gene “Bunny” Mason measures 6,170 yards but features enough challenges to make you hit every club in the bag. GPS systems in all carts are a nice benefit and they help pace of play.

9-hole courses: No shortage of places to try
Lake Cushman sits high above the Hood Canal, in Hoodsport. Although it sits amongst the Olympic Mountains, the course is relatively level.

The Shelton area boasts two quality nine-hole courses in Bayshore and Lake Limerick. Bayshore, located along the water, has two sets of tees and a par-4 hole with two greens. Lake Limerick has been upgraded and if you have played there in a few years then you will be pleasantly surprised at how it looks and plays.

In the Olympia area, Scott Lake and Delphi are another pair of nine-holers that can be fitted in if you are on a tight time schedule as their yardage suggests. Airport Golf in Tumwater is another good nine-hole test for beginning and advanced players. Airport Golf also features plenty of room to practice and has indoor batting cages.

South of Aberdeen along the Washington Coast there is Willapa Harbor in Raymond, Surfside and Peninsula GC in Ocean Park.

Lake Cushman: A mountainous setting
Located high above the Hood Canal, in Hoodsport, Lake Cushman is surrounded by Olympic peaks and natural wildlife. This is a must play when traveling along Highway 101. The course is well maintained and has a snack bar and driving range. The greens are always in great shape. The course is bordered by houses but the mountainous setting makes it feel remote, it is, however, within easy driving time to Shelton, Olympia and Belfair. This is popular course for tournaments and gets a lot of travelers who stop for a relaxing round.

Willapa Harbor: A place to bring clubs and an RV
Willapa Harbor in Raymond is one of the oldest, and some say the best, nine-hole course in the Pacific Northwest. It’s also a place where you can drive your RV onto a grass-covered park and hook up. The course comes complete with 20 RV hookups, including showers. It’s a peaceful place to stay, and an enjoyable nine-hole course to play. When you’ve finished up at Willapa Harbor, Surfside, located in Ocean Park on the Long Beach Peninsula, is another good bet. It’s a quick drive to Surfside from Willapa for another nine holes of golf.

Ocean Shores: Golfing on the Washington Coast
Ocean Shores for years has been a must-stop for tourists traveling to the coast. Some of the best lodging and accommodations on Washington’s Coast can be found in this resort town.

There is unique shopping and recreational attractions – like go-karts, mopeds, horseback riding and the opportunity to drive your car on the beach.

The golf course is user friendly and remains one of the strong attractions for the peninsula town. Over the years a new clubhouse and driving range were added. The front and back nine are quite different; one is a links-style without trees and plays along and often over the canal while the other plays through trees.

Highland: A hilly option and challenging

Highland Golf Course originally opened as a nine-hole venue in 1930. Then, you only had to walk up half as many up and down holes. Now an 18-hole facility, double your ups and downs on this challenging, hilly offering.

There are not many flat lies, which makes it even more challenging and the greens are tough, too. New management has come in to turn the course around as Curt Zander, the long-time operator of Ocean Shores Golf Course, now manages the place. He signed a three-year deal and maintenance improvements are job one.

Vanco Range: Practice, practice practice
Vanco Driving Range in Vancouver is one of the most popular places for players to practice when they are not on the course.

It’s a complete package: level practice range, a nice practice chipping and putting area and a well stocked pro shop. If you ask you even be able to get lessons from Chuck Milne who is one of the Northwest’s top players.

Skamania Lodge: Right on the Columbia River
Skamania Lodge located in Stevenson, Wash., just above the Columbia River offers some terrific views. There’s the 18-hole golf course that winds through the tall trees and provides great views of the Columbia River. There’s also the Waterleaf Spa that comes complete with all the treatments you will ever need.

Tahoma Valley: New name, new look
Tahoma Valley Golf Club in Yelm has plenty new to show off. In addition to the new name (it used to be called Nisqually Golf Club) there is a new ninth hole and a new clubhouse as well – and a new restaurant called Fadies. General Manager Gene Schuster also said the nines have now been reversed. The ninth hole used to be a par-4, but with the building of a new clubhouse the hole pas been converted to a 195-yard par-3 to get the green away from the clubhouse. The new 4,000 square foot clubhouse sits on the site of the old clubhouse.

Kelso area golf: Three Rivers and Mint Valley are gems
In the Kelso area, it takes a little work to get to Three Rivers and Mint Valley, but both are good public tracks and a short drive off Interstate-5. Three Rivers was a course that was built after the flooding from the eruption of Mount St. Helens. All kinds of material was left over from the floods and turned into a golf course.

Oaksridge: Right off the freeway to the Coast
Oaksridge Golf Course sits just off Highway 12 in Elma and is visible from the freeway. The 18-hole track measures 5,643 yards and is a local favorite after opening in 1934. The course is relatively level so it makes a perfect walking course. Just be advised, the prevailing winds can lengthen it considerably. Owner Rich Walker has put in endless hours to keep the course in good shape –and his work has paid off.

Capitol City: A dry place in the wintertime
In Washington’s wet climate golf courses are often remembered for being wet or dry. Built on a gravel pit in 1962, Capitol City Golf Course has excellent drainage and has enjoy the reputation as being one of, if not the, driest course in western Washington for more than 40 years. But it’s more than just a dry course, it has tree-lined fairways and is well bunkered with well-maintained greens.

Eagle’s Pride: Fort Lewis course open to the public
Eagle’s Pride Golf Course at Fort Lewis has come a long way. It opened along I-5 as a course open only to the military. A few years back, the course opened to the public and changed its name to Eagle’s Pride Golf Course. It’s a layout that has 27 holes and was voted among the top 10 military courses in the U.S.

Country Clubs: Several to choose from in SW Washington
If you are a country club golfer, the area has some nice choices for you. From Olympia to Aberdeen to Longview, there are a handful of clubs to try:

• Indian Summer is perhaps the best-known club in Olympia and is the newest of the four country clubs in Southwest Washington. Designed by Peter Thompson, the course continually makes the list of the top golf courses.

• Olympia Country Club located along Budd Inlet with sweeping views of south Puget Sound and plays just over 6,000 yards but features a tight and hilly layout. Prepare for some tough walks or better yet, rent a cart for this course.

• Grays Harbor Country Club in Central Park is a nine-hole layout and is one of the oldest clubs in the Northwest having opened for play in 1912.

• Longview Country Club isn’t long, playing to just over 6,000 yards and par-70; it opened three new holes for play in the 1996 season.

• Royal Oaks Country Club: This club in Vancouver is considered one of the top courses in the Pacific Northwest. It opened in the 1940s.

PDF SW Wash Map 2012