Touring SW Washington Golf Courses

Updated: March 3, 2010

Southwest Washington stretches from the state capitol in Olympia to just east of Vancouver to the Pacific Ocean. Sightseeing, fishing, hiking, camping . . . are all a part of the area’s landscape. The golf courses in this region are some of the best to be found in the state.

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.

Green Mountain: Feels like 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 and features enough challenges to make you hit every club in your 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 $35 to play Green Mountain.

Tumwater Valley: Seeing double on the par-3 holes
Tumwater Golf Course has several things that keep golfers coming back – like the second and 17th holes, both are 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 newly renovated restaurant has opened at the course called River’s Edge featuring a popular sports bar with large banquet spaces.

9-hole courses: Plenty of challenging ones to try
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. The terrain at Bayshore is flat but the tall trees make pars tough to come by if you should get off the fairways. 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.

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.

Willapa Harbor in Raymond is one of the oldest, and some say one of the best, nine-hole courses in the Pacific Northwest. It’s also a place where you can drive your RV onto a grass-covered park and hook up for overnight camping. The course comes complete with 20 RV hookups, including showers. It’s a peaceful place to stay, and an enjoyable nine-hole course. 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.

Marvin Road Golf & Batting Range: Golf and much, much more
It was called Hickory Stick Driving Range, in Lacey when the doors first opened. Now the name has been changed to Marvin Road Golf & Batting Range and offers more than just golf. This is a place that has it all. It is an 18-stall driving range, complete with a short game practice area and putting course. Four batting cages have been installed, and you don’t just hit the baseballs into a net – you get to hit them into the driving range field. The 18-hole miniature putting course is a gem, complete with water hazards and a waterfall. It’s the perfect place to work on your game and a better place to take your family. Web site is:

Capitol City: One of the driest courses around
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 enjoyed the reputation of 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 excellent 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: Plenty of different terrain
Camas Meadows Golf Club opened in 2000, and since then golfers have finished their rounds thinking they played two different golf courses. The front is tree-lined while the back winds through meadows and wetlands. It was named the #1 Top Public Course in all of Oregon and SW Washington by The Portland Business Journal. The course is in its seventh 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 than 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 buzzing.

Riverside: New restaurant, new RV spots and more
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 three 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: A chance to double up
The Golf Club at Hawk’s Prairie has 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 to play a doubleheader, they have special deals for two rounds in the same day – it costs $99 Monday through Thursday for two rounds, a cart and lunch and $109 Friday through Sunday.

Ocean Shores: A tourist treat and terrific golf
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.

A new irrigation system for nine holes has allowed operator Curt Zander to see his course become more green and lush. Other changes coming up include some work to tees and greens. The course hosted the PNGA Junior Girls Championship in 2007.

Lewis River: It’s literally a walk in the park
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.

Club Green Meadows: Golf and more
Club Green Meadows started in 1960 as a driving range. Today it is way more than just golf. It is a full service athletic facility that gives people more than just a golf outing. Along with the 18-hole, 6,500-yard golf course, there’s the largest athletic facility in the Northwest.

It has seven tennis courts, an indoor and outdoor Olympic-sized swimming pool, more than a dozen racquetball courts, three full-sized basketball courts . . . get the idea? The club offers a golf membership as well as tennis and athletic club memberships.

Highland Golf Club: New owners looking to make mark
After 54 years of ownership by the Stradas family, the course sold to Cosi Holdings, LLC, the same company that was building the new Links at Halfmoon Bay course in Westport two years ago.

The back nine at Highland Golf Course in Cosmopolis opened in 1994 and the first nine opened in 1930. The back nine is hilly, lined with trees and features solid par-4 holes. The 17th hole, a par-5, makes you think carefully about club selection.

This is a must play course if you are in the Aberdeen area. The course will surprise you with its character and the variety of shots you will use.

Vanco Driving Range: Tune up
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 might even be able to get lessons from Chuck Milne who is one of the Northwest’s top players.

Skamania Lodge: A top retreat
Skamania Lodge is mountain resort located in Stevenson, Wash., just above the Columbia River, with spectacular views.

The 18-hole, par-70 golf course 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: A 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.

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.