In this blog post we move over to the state of Washington and explore the best golf courses in Seattle.
This is one of the most trendy and hip cities in the Pacific Northwest. Renowned for its thriving coffee culture, and the birthplace to some of the greatest rock bands, Seattle is the place to be!
To the east are the snow-capped Cascade Mountains. Whilst to the west, the salty Puget Sound. Yet these two geographical features are what largely define Seattle’s drizzly weather. So if traveling here, make sure you take some waterproofs!
The city itself is a melting pot of artsy neighborhoods with a vibrant foodie and craft beer scene. No wonder the likes of Microsoft and Amazon have based themselves here.
Now let’s jump into the best golf courses in Seattle.
The best public golf courses in Seattle
The Golf Club at Newcastle (Coal Creek Course & China Creek Course)
We kick off our list of the best public golf courses in Seattle, Washington, with the exceptional Golf Club at Newcastle.
Set on a lofty site with some truly sensational views, this is a phenomenal venue to come and play golf.
This hilltop site has panoramic views across to the Cascade Mountains, Mt. Rainier, as well as Lake Washington and of course the Seattle skyline. There really are few places which will match this for views.
And the golf offering maintains the high standards. Two championship golf courses, the stern test of Coal Creek and the enjoyable China Creek.
Both courses opened within a year of each other, Coal Creek coming first in 1999, whilst China Creek followed a year later in 2000. And it was the renowned architect Bob Cupp who was responsible for the routing of both courses. Although he was well supported in this endeavor by the Masters Champion Fred Couples.
Needless to say, with both courses stretching across the expansive 350 acre site, they are relatively similar in nature. Constant elevation changes lead to rolling fairways and expansive green complexes.
China Creek is considered to be slightly easier, especially if playing from the back tees where it measures some 400 yards shorter.
Regardless of which course you are playing, you can enjoy the epic 44,000 square foot clubhouse. Grab something special to eat in Calcutta Grill, or enjoy a craft ale in the English-style pub the ‘Queen Mary’.
Harbour Pointe Golf Club
Half an hour’s drive north of Seattle, between Lynnwood and Mukilteo, is the great fun Harbour Pointe Golf Club.
Along with nine other golf courses around Seattle, it forms part of the Oki Golf collection. Other courses within the collection include The Golf Club at Newcastle, The Plateau Club, both on this list, and Washington National Golf Club based in Tacoma to the south.
The reason I mention this is because they sell a selection of prepaid cards which earn you substantial savings on the price of a round. Without pointing out the obvious, the more rounds you anticipate playing, the cheaper the card.
Anyway, back to the golf club. The course at Harbour Pointe was designed by the celebrated architect Arthur Hills. Hills has designed countless courses nationwide, and this joins the ranks of playable and entertaining ones.
Two completely distinct nines await visiting golfers. The front nine meanders through flat wetlands with water coming into play on nearly every hole.
Whilst the back nine couldn’t be more different. Plotting your way through the imposing Evergreen trees, this is characterized by rolling hills and breathtaking views.
Measuring just shy of 6,900 yards off the back tees, don’t expect anything easy going here.
Druids Glen Golf Course
Consistently voted as one of the most popular public golf courses in Seattle, Druids Glen is one not to be missed. Yet alongside being one of the most popular, be warned it is also one of the most difficult.
The course was designed by the phenomenally talented Keith Foster and opened for play in 1997.
From the back tees, it is a beast, reaching nearly 7,150 yards. And this is no flat plot of land to contend with. You’ll be making your way through dramatic terrain including elevated tee shots, undulating fairways and rolling greens. Finding a flat lie is a rarity!
To make things worse, Foster decided to throw in some sixty strategically positioned bunkers and ensured there was plenty of water in play.
But for people who love their golf, this is also amazing fun. It is also a true test of golf on a fantastically conditioned course. So much so, plaudits are always forthcoming about the quality of the surfaces.
If you want to enjoy upscale championship golf, within an hour’s drive of downtown Seattle, this is a great option.
West Seattle Golf Course
I always like to throw in a couple of municipal courses where possible, and West Seattle Golf Course fits the bill perfectly.
Not only is this a fantastic option super close to the city center, it is also amazing value.
The course has been in existence since the mid-twentieth century, 1940 to be precise. And the man responsible for the project was H. Chandler Egan, who is largely accountable for the layout we enjoy at Pebble Beach today.
Alongside Jefferson Park, another city run municipal course, West Seattle Golf Course couldn’t be closer to the city center. One of the benefits therefore are some spectacular views from a handful of holes of downtown Seattle and Elliot Bay.
It’s also another course which offers contrasting front and back nines. The front starts you off steady, with mostly flat terrain meandering alongside Longfellow Creek.
But on the back nine, things really start to get a bit more physical. Some huge elevation changes which depending on the pin positions and the prevailing winds can play havoc with your scorecard.
This is an excellent course especially for the rate you pay, which varies due to the dynamic pricing the club operates. Expect to pay around $40 for a peak time, which is hard to beat in the Seattle area.
Auburn Golf Course
A forty-five minute trek south out of Seattle, effectively following the Green River, and you’ll soon arrive at Auburn Golf Course (minus a few twists and turns!).
Having first opened in 1948, some twenty years later it was purchased by the city of Auburn. Ever since then, it has remained a municipal course and a firm favorite south of Seattle.
In fact, this is so popular, people travel from far and wide to play Auburn Golf Course. Golf Advisor even ranked it as highly as the 9th best course in Washington in 2022.
The 200-acre site is lush and verdant, which is to be expected sitting alongside the river. But don’t just expect flat fairways and wetlands. The routing has plenty of climbs and descents offering a variety of different lies!
Yet where some municipal courses get a little lost in time, the same can’t be said for Auburn Golf Course. There has been huge investment in the course, with the club rebuilding nine fairways and nearly every green and tee box on the course.
This attention to detail and reinvestment of all profits into the course, is no doubt a reason Auburn is so popular and highly rated.
Nile Shrine Golf Course
Just to the north of downtown, is the last of our public golf courses in Seattle, Nile Shrine Golf Course.
As you head out of the city on Interstate 5, after fifteen minutes or so you’ll arrive at the suburban city of Mountlake Terrace. Take Exit 177 and after literally a few seconds, you’ll arrive at your destination. Needless to say it couldn’t be more convenient.
Granted to one side of the plot you have the freeway. But bordering the whole of the west side is the serene Lake Ballinger.
As for the site itself, it is dominated by pine woodland and features some subtle undulations in the terrain. McAleer Creek cuts through the site although it doesn’t really come into play sadly.
The course opened initially as a 9-hole back in 1968 and was designed by the relatively little-known Norman H. Woods.
Woods had a modest career as an architect, designing just over ten golf courses across the U.S.A. and Canada, some of which were 9-holes. In 1996, Nile Shrine was expanded to 18-holes.
At just over 5,000 yards, this is a short course although it plays to a par 67. So if you’re looking for a big and expansive championship course, I’d suggest one of the other options listed above.
But if you’re looking for a challenging but fun course renowned for being in good condition. And somewhere friendly and of great value, which won’t take half a day to get round, you’ve come to the right place.
The best private golf courses in Seattle
The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge
There are some places you go to and you’re immediately blown away by the scale and pure beauty of the site. Snoqualmie Ridge is one of those places.
An elevated site forty minutes east of Seattle, it has spectacular views across to the Cascade Mountains. Driving up to the majestic clubhouse, the mountains loom ominously in the background.
And this is no average clubhouse. Contemporary in style, it is vast, and was voted the ‘Most Beautiful Clubhouse’ in Washington by Architectural Digest in 2018. This in itself is worth the trip!
So let’s address the one sore point. Previously a TPC property, The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge has, in some eyes, lost part of its charm. A vast residential project has slowly but surely been erected, with certainly the front-nine characterized by housing.
Yes these are large houses and this is an attractive site. But nonetheless, it puts some off.
But let’s move on swiftly. Certainly on the back nine, things improve with the course hugging dense woodland and enjoying prominent views.
And this is no average course either. We’re talking about the only Jack Nicklaus Signature Course in Washington State.
In Nicklaus style, expect plenty of expansive greens, a litany of bunkers and ample doglegs. There is even a u-shaped hole, the 14th, which is a par 4 requiring the most accurate of tee shots to have half a chance of making par!
All-in-all though, this is a decent test and won’t be easily topped for views and location.
Broadmoor Golf Club
Broadmoor Golf Club is one of Seattle’s old-school courses, located a stone’s throw from the city center. It is located up in Washington Park, next to the popular Park Arboretum and close to Union Bay.
The club came to life in 1924, when the Puget Mill Company dedicated a sizable plot of land, some 200 acres, to the creation of a residential community.
Three years later the 18-hole golf course opened and was designed by Vernon Macan. Macan was prolific in western United States, with Broadmoor one of his finest designs.
Tall firs dominate the elevated site, whilst the woodland course features two vastly distinct nines.
Over the years, Broadmoor has hosted a fair number of high profile tournaments, with many legends of the game, both men and women, having graced the fairways. Foremost amongst these tournaments was the Seattle Open, which it hosted in 1945, 1961 and 1964.
But there have been many, many more tournaments hosted here with the course record of 60 posted by Englishman Paul Casey.
This is a wonderful club with a traditional woodland layout, hidden amongst Seattle’s suburbia.
Sand Point Golf Club
One of the preeminent country clubs in the city of Seattle, Sand Point Country Club is also one of the finest private golf courses in the Northwest.
Perched up high on a relatively small property, the club offers jaw-dropping views of Lake Washington and the distant mountains. On clear days, you can easily see as far as Mount Baker on the Canadian border.
Sand Point is yet another club which opened in the first half of the twentieth century, 1927 to be precise. The course was designed by the relatively unknown Francis L. James, a British golf architect.
Fast forward to today, and the course has been radically renovated by the immensely talented David McLay Kidd.
Kidd’s portfolio includes admired courses such as Bandon Dunes and Tetherow in Oregon, Mammoth Dunes at Sand Valley in Wisconsin. And closer to Seattle, the impressive Gamble Sands.
Here at Sand Point, Kidd has reinjected a lease of life, creating a heathland classic, arguably not too dissimilar to what it would have been like back in the 1920s. Firm and fast fairways, short cut grasses, and hugely contoured greens. Rugged bunkers give a natural feel to the aesthetic.
This is a spectacular course which, post-renovation, will only continue to climb the various ‘best in state’ rankings.
Seattle Golf Club
Up in Shoreline, just north of Broadview, is the iconic Seattle Golf Club. This is one of the oldest golf clubs in the Northwest, having been founded in 1900.
Seven years after opening, it moved to its incumbent home. This new location is a prominent and verdant site overlooking the elegant Puget Sound.
There is some debate as to who is responsible for the original routing. But two men can lay claim to having surely transformed and modernized Seattle Golf Club.
The first of the two was Arnold Palmer, who was engaged in 1996 to renovate the course. Whilst more recently in 2022, Thad Layton, again of the Arnold Palmer Design Company, oversaw a substantial renovation project.
This most recent project saw every green complex rebuilt, new tee boxes erected and fairway bunkers added. For such a traditional golf club, this was bold stuff and clearly took some courage. But the end result couldn’t be more impressive.
In a way, it is a course which keeps on giving. With the new tee locations, you would never tire of playing here. Add to that the elegance of the site with its ancient Douglas Firs and the exceptional conditioning, this is a class act.
The Plateau Club
The other side of Lake Sammamish, east of Sammamish town, is the sensational The Plateau Club. Driving from downtown Seattle, it would take around forty minutes to get here.
The club is perched up high on a plateau (clue in the name right!) hidden away in the dense Blue Dragon Forest. And it is this famed Northwest forest from which the routing was carved back in 1997.
In charge of the project was Perry Dye and Masatsugu Saito. Anyone half interested in golf course design will recognise the Dye name, with Perry’s father Pete regarded as one of the finest architects of all time.
Perry has had a far more modest career, but has experience in buckets, designing and renovating courses worldwide.
Along with Saito’s support, they created a wonderful, yet immensely challenging layout here. So much so, The Plateau Club has been ranked by the USGA as one of the most challenging courses in Washington State.
The course weaves through the majestic woodland whilst also circumnavigating wetlands and climbing vast elevations. This is challenging yet stunning at the same time.
And to top things off, is the superb clubhouse which features a top class restaurant. The Red Alder Grill is a contemporary restaurant which features a classic menu of Northwest cuisine. Alongside it, the Red Alder Lounge serves the best in spirits and cocktails, which can be enjoyed on the outdoor deck taking in the sensational views.
A top class country club, in a scenic location. Just make sure you take plenty of balls!