Locals’ favorite ways to putt around Puget Sound

Aerial view of the Newcastle Golf Course in Bellevue. - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Aerial view of the Newcastle Golf Course in Bellevue.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

There may not be space on the Island for an 18-hole golf course with a clubhouse and restaurant, but golf luxury abounds in Puget Sound. Within driving distance are some of Seattle’s oldest courses, as well as some of the newest. Locals have their favorites, with reasons ranging far and wide.

Tyson Peters, the boys golf coach at Mercer Island High School, said there are quiet a few choices locally, especially for golfers seeking a trip to the fairway without breaking the bank.

Peters listed Jefferson Park, located on Beacon Hill, and West Seattle Golf Course as two of his personal favorites.

“Both are affordable municipal courses,” he said. West Seattle tops his list because besides being close to home, it tests his skills.

“Personally, I love it because it’s a pretty challenging course. It’s got great views and the price is right, but it requires a lot of different types of shots and it can make your game better,” said Peters. Both Jefferson Park and West Seattle are managed by Premier Golf Club, which operates 10 courses in the greater Puget Sound area.

One of the other courses in the area that Islanders head to for a relaxing round of putting and chipping is The Golf Club at Newcastle, a course within a 15-minute drive of the Island.

Managed by Oki Golf, which operates nine courses in the area, one of Newcastle’s selling points is the views. Set at a 900-foot elevation that crowns the Newcastle area, the two courses provide 180-degree views spanning from Mt. Baker to Sea-Tac, said general manager David Hines. Newcastle is a public course, something that Hines said surprises some people because of the amazing facilities it offers. Along with the large club house, two restaurants and two 18-hole courses, is a heated and specially lit driving range which stays open until 9 p.m., Hines said.

“A lot of people come up to practice in the winter,” he said of the facility, which lets golfers keep on top of their game year-round.

While the two courses, China Creek and Coal Creek, are considered championship courses and were designed in part by Fred Couples, Hines said there are four tee settings to help accommodate all skill sets.

“We really want to accommodate any level of play,” he said.

Lessons are available at the Newcastle course and tee reservations are taken up to a week in advance. The Bellevue Municipal Golf Course also offers 18 holes of play and is within 15 minutes of the Island.

On the Olympic Peninsula, Peters recommended Gold Mountain, in Bremerton, Trophy Lake, McCormick Woods, White Horse and Port Ludlow. To the south, Peters said the Home Course in Dupont is “fantastic” and the public Chambers Bay course is also worth a visit. Chambers Bay, in University Place, will host the 2010 U.S. Amateur and the 2015 U.S. Open.

For Mercer Island High School student Charlie Kern, a member of the boys golf team and a recent player on the International Junior Golf Tour circuit, courses around home offer variety compared to others around the nation. He named Willows Run in Redmond as one of his favorites because it is always in great shape. Kern is also a big fan of the West Seattle Course.

“It has a good price, a wide variety of holes, and the views are great,” he said.

Kern, a sophomore at MIHS, has played at courses around the country and said that, comparably, Washington courses, especially those in the Seattle area, tend to have more narrow greens and greater obstacles, such as the trees flourishing in the area.

“The courses are more narrow and there are more trees. Here, it’s more about accuracy than distance,” said Kern, comparing Seattle courses to those back East.

As a junior player, Kern said the public courses in the area are always good about welcoming younger players onto the greens.

“The public courses are definitely open to juniors. They are really good about letting juniors play,” he said.

Most courses in the area are set up to take tee reservations either online or over the phone.

For more information, visit and for more information on local courses.

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