Southwest Washington

Updated: August 30, 2010

Click Here For PDF Map of Southwest Washington

There is plenty to like when it comes to Southwest Washington, an area that stretches from the state capitol in Olympia to just east of Vancouver to the Pacific Ocean. Sightseeing, fishing, hiking, camping and of course, golf are all a part of the area’s landscape.

This month, Inside Golf takes you on a tour of the area.

Green Mountain: The feeling of playing at home
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. And the price is right: It costs less than $40 to play Green Mountain.

Tumwater Valley: Par-3 double double
Tumwater Golf Course has several things 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 featuring fine dining and a deck with a view of the golf course. Some of the carts in the fleet feature air conditioning.

9-hole courses: No shortage to tee it up at
From Shelton to Olympia to the Washington Coast, there are nine-hole golf courses throughout this area that provide a wide variety of styles and difficulties.

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 haven’t played there in a few years then you will be pleasantly surprised at how it looks and plays.

Both of these courses have tall trees that define the fairways and both have small and well conditioned greens.

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 some indoor batting cages.

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

Capitol City: Dry is the word
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.

Access Golf Mgmt, LLC, acquired Capitol City Golf Club a few years ago. With the acquisition came many course improvements that made a good course even better. If you haven’t played this course lately then you need to see it now to appreciate the changes.

Camas Meadows: Different looks on both nines
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 natural wildlife present to share your round with.

The course is in its 10th season and 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 that it is. 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 new gazebo and tent has the wedding business covered.

Riverside: Popular stop even more popular now
Riverside Golf Club 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 four years ago and already 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.

Golf Club at Hawk’s Prairie: Two rounds, different courses
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 but the Links course, while more open, has its share of tree-lined fairways as well. Both present challenging approach shots to large greens and are in top condition.
Since both courses are part of the Oki Golf ownership, there are a variety of pricing options and specials available. You can visit their website at to find the best or latest deals at Hawks Prairie.

Golf with RV connections at Willapa Harbor
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, though it’s not the quality of Willapa, it’s a short drive away.

Lewis River: Like taking a walk in the part
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: U.S. Amateur host course along with Chambers Bay
The Home Course 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 in August. 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.

Vanco Range: Place to tune up
Vanco Driving Range in Vancouver is an older range that has maintained a strong following over the years.

It’s a complete package: level practice range, a nice practice chipping and putting area and a well stocked pro shop. The owner Chuck Milne has been and still is one of the Northwest’s top players.

Skamania Lodge: A getaway
Skamania Lodge, located in Stevenson, Wash., just above the Columbia River, provides some spectacular views.

The 18-hole golf course is spread over 175 wooded acres and winds through the tall trees providing several views of the Columbia River from the course. The resort has 254 rooms, an 18-hole par-70 golf course, a full service spa and a fitness center.

Tahoma Valley: Looks new
Tahoma Valley Golf Club in Yelm has plenty new to show off. In addition to the new names (it used to be called Nisqually Golf Club) there is a new ninth hole and a new clubhouse.

The ninth hole used to be a par-4, but with the building of a new clubhouse the hole was 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 same site that the old clubhouse once occupied.

Country Clubs: Places to join
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 you will want 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 and hosts some of the Northwest’s top events.

Freeway golf: Don’t have to drive far off I-5 to find a variety of courses to try
If you find yourself planning a trip up or down Interstate-5, you might also want to plan on packing your golf clubs in the back of your car.

From Olympia on south to Vancouver, there are plenty of choices when it comes to playing golf right off I-5. The courses all sit within minutes of the freeway and if you have the time, they are all worth the trip.

Starting from the north, the Olympia area has a couple of courses less than five minutes off the freeway in the Golf Club at Hawk’s Prairie. You can’t go wrong with the Links Course or the Woodlands Course. Both are extremely challenging and the conditioning is good.

The PNGA’s Home Course, which opened for play three years ago, sits just minutes off the freeway in the town of DuPont. One exit and a couple of turns puts you in the parking lot of one of the newest courses to open in the Northwest and a host for the 2010 U.S. Amateur.

A couple of miles to the south lies Tumwater Valley, a course you can see just south of the old Olympia Brewery. A couple of quick turns off the freeway, gets you there. This popular course has hosted some of the top amateur events in the Pacific Northwest and you can virtually see the course as you head north or south on I-5.

“We’re lucky because we’re in such a great location,” said head pro Stu Aden. “Sitting right off the freeway, people don’t have to go searching for us up and down side roads. Once you get off the freeway, there we are.”

In Chehalis, Riverside Golf Club is so close to the freeway, you could probably reach it with a driver. It’s difficult to see from the freeway but it is less than three minutes from the off-ramp. The course is not real long but will test your game.

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 much of the material was left to build a golf course.

A little further south in Woodland, Lewis River is about a 10-minute drive off the freeway, but with it’s park-like setting, and top quality golf, it’s worth the extra time.

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. One unique feature of Tri-Mountain is the driving range, which is a lake.