In this blog post, we’re going to explore some of the best golf courses in Tacoma. 

Nestled along the banks of the stunning Commencement Bay, Tacoma is a vibrant city that captures the essence of the Pacific Northwest. Driving from downtown Seattle, it would take you just under an hour to get there.

Similarly to Seattle, Tacoma offers a picturesque setting and enjoys panoramic views of Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains. 

Tacoma City

It is also growing quite a reputation for its thriving arts scene. Boasting a rich cultural heritage, it is home to several renowned museums and galleries. From the iconic Museum of Glass to the stunning Chihuly Bridge of Glass, the city has become a haven for art enthusiasts. 

Additionally, Tacoma’s revitalized downtown, diverse culinary options, and abundance of outdoor activities make it a hugely popular destination.

It is also home to some great golf courses. So without any further delay, let’s jump into the best golf courses in Tacoma.

See also: What are the best golf courses in Seattle, Washington?

The best public golf courses in Tacoma, Washington

1. Chambers Bay

Chambers Bay Golf, Tacoma, Washington, Adobe

There is no better way to kick off this list of the best public golf courses in Tacoma, than to start with Chambers Bay. Arguably one of the greatest public golf courses in the country, and the only golf course in the Northwest, let alone public course, to have hosted the U.S. Open.

Located along the shores of the Puget Sound in Pierce County, the land upon which the course was built has a rich and storied history.

Just a twenty minute drive into Tacoma, this vast plot has had a number of different uses. A rock quarry, a paper mill, a site for lumber companies, a sand and gravel mine, a preservation and recreational center….the list goes on.

But today, you’ll find a world-class 18-hole championship course. And this golf course was crafted by one of the finest in the business, Robert Trent Jones Jr. 

And it was no small task given to Trent Jones II. He was asked to create a course which is playable for all levels of golfer, but also capable of hosting a major championship. 

Many architects would have crumbled under such pressure. But Trent Jones Jr. saw the potential in the site and saw to maximize the usage of some of the massive natural landforms created across years of different uses. 

This gives Chambers Bay its distinct character, which is quite unique in the U.S. It harks back to some of the traditional links courses of the British Isles, including rail tracks running along the perimeter of the property. It’s also incorporated public footpaths, much like those old-school courses across the Atlantic. 

But be warned. This is no pushover. Large dunes and constant elevation changes. Massive bunkers and wicked greens. And of course the prevailing winds coming inland. But boy is it fun. 

I’d definitely recommend getting carts though, as this can be a tiring walk.

2. Washington National Golf Club

Just past Auburn towards Lake Holm, is a fantastic addition to the Northwest portfolio of courses, Washington National Golf Club.

Part of the Oki Golf group of courses, it was built and opened for play this side of the millennium, in 2000. 

And given the job for the design, was the highly respected and talented John Fought. 

Fought enjoyed a career on the PGA Tour and since turning his attention to course architecture, has again enjoyed a degree of success. He initially started his career working with Bob Cupp, and later in 1995 started his own business, John Fought Design.

Washington National joins a collection of his courses that are all highly regarded, including the superb South Course at The Gallery in Tucson. 

The site is a mixture of dense woodland, open plains and lakes. And with a more modern approach to design, Fought has created a very target golf experience. 

On the whole, fairways are relatively forgiving, but feature plenty of strategically positioned deep bunkers. The undulating greens all vary in shape, size and will test your nerves. 

Home to the University of Washington’s Men’s and Women’s Golf teams, this is a firm test of golf. But well worth it!

3. The Home Course

The Home Course, Tacoma, Washington, Permission Given - resized

There is one thing no one can deny, and that is Washington State has some great public golf courses. The Home Course continues this trend and has even been voted as the second best public golf course in Washington by Golfweek magazine.

A little further out of Tacoma, driving south towards Du Pont, the course occupies a prime plot of land overlooking the Puget Sound. In a way, this is not too dissimilar a location to Chambers Bay, just fifteen minutes further down the coast.

In relative terms, the course is new. It opened for play in 2007 and was a project headed up by the relatively unknown Michael Asmundson. With very few golf course designs to his name, Asmundson must have been proud of what he achieved here at the Home Course. 

The site has stunning views and is reminiscent of a traditional links. 

There are expansive fairways, plenty of fescue and rapid undulating greens. With the forgiving fairways, there is an emphasis placed on the second shot, needing to avoid the greenside bunkers whilst also considering the pin placement on the large greens.

This is definitely challenging golf, which will only be exacerbated if the rain-gods aren’t on your side. And if ever there was a course to choose which tee box you’re playing off carefully, The Home Course is one.  

For example, playing from the Blue tees, the course is an acceptable 6,584 yards. Feeling a bit more confident? Well try playing off the Black tees which push the yardage to 7,031. Still feeling bullish?! Go on then, play off the Dynamite tees which will see you playing 7,420 yards. Just take plenty of balls. 

See also: What are the best public golf courses in Portland, Oregon?

4. Oakbrook Golf Club

Oakbrook Golf Club only recently opened its doors to the public, having been a private club for nearly fifty years. Having originally opened in 1966, it became publicly accessible in 2012.

And when you play at Oakbrook, you can immediately tell it has been diligently and carefully maintained over the years. 

Located just a twenty-five minute drive out of Tacoma, Oakbrook is without doubt one of the best public golf courses in Tacoma. To validate this, it is consistently rated as one of the top courses amongst the many golf publications.

Measuring over 6,700 yards from the back tees, the routing meanders through glorious oak woodland. From the backs it plays long and hard, with on the whole tight fairways requiring precision off the tee. Brute force is not recommended.

In fact this is considered one of the most challenging public courses in the area, so be warned! Although with a variety of tees to choose from, it is playable for all levels. It is also relatively flat so it isn’t too difficult to walk. 

Another key selling point for Oakbrook and its traditional parkland layout, is the emphasized pace of play. The club maintains that no round should take longer than 4 hours 15 minutes, and this is carefully marshaled. 

A great course, in great condition, with a fantastic clubhouse. 

5. Lake Spanaway Golf Course

Lake Spanaway Golf Course, Tacoma, Washington, Permission Given - resized

Hidden amongst mature old growth Douglas firs, is the popular Lake Spanaway Golf Course. 

Located down in Spanaway, the course occupies a prime plot of land bordering the serene Spanaway Lake. Sadly, you don’t really see the lake from the course. But knowing you are near to it brings a sense of nature and solitude.

Owned by Pierce County, Lake Spanaway has existed since 1967 and was designed by A. V. Macan. Macan was relatively prolific in this area of the Northwest, having also designed Fircrest (further down this list) as well as the exceptional Broadmoor and Inglewood further north in Seattle.

Here at Lake Spanaway though, the course meanders through the vast elegant firs. Hitting it long and straight will certainly aid your scorecard. Although even if you do spray it, you’ll find your ball. 

The greens are large and true and regardless of which tees you play from, with the terrain being relatively flat, it is an easy walk.

Extremely good value, great fun and not in the slightest bit pretentious. 

6. Allenmore Golf Course

Allenmore Golf Course, Tacoma, Washington, PErmission Given - resized

This is the closest golf course to the center of town, being less than a ten minute drive from downtown Tacoma. Allenmore has a fascinating history and is one of the oldest layouts in Tacoma.

Not only was the course founded by two golf-mad businessmen, it also derives its name from them. These were Sam Allen, who owned the 200+ acre plot, and William J. Dinsmore, a retired oil distributor.

To design the course, they selected a popular golf professional of the era, Ray Ball. Eventually, after a year’s construction, it opened in 1931. At the time, it was also one of the few courses to feature tee to green irrigation, a game changer at the time.

The design isn’t the most inspiring, with a lot of back and forth and some quite straight fairways. In fact, there are only a few holes with any degree of dogleg in them. 

But fear not, there are plenty of areas where Allenmore does impress and stand out. Firstly, very few fairways are flat, with a number of uphill, downhill and sidehill lies. Out of bounds and water hazards keep you on your toes. Whilst the greens are generally in good shape and fast.

To top things off, it is the pure beauty of the site. With a stunning backdrop of Mt. Rainier, you could be forgiven for thinking you were a lot further out of the city.

The best private golf courses in Tacoma

Tacoma Country & Golf Club

Tacoma Country & Golf Club, Tacoma, Washington, Permission Given

This is one of the finest premier private clubs in the Northwest, and has been a home for its members for well over a century.

Occupying a pristine plot of land overlooking American Lake, Tacoma Country & Golf Club came into existence in 1894.

Just a fifteen minute drive out of Tacoma on the I-5, it couldn’t be more convenient for those members looking to escape the city. And once on site, you literally feel a million miles from urbanization. 

The sumptuous routing was devised by John Harbottle III and Stanley Thompson and is a traditional parkland layout. Nearly all fairways are tree-lined, and although you won’t lose your ball, don’t expect to have a line on the green.

Talking of greens, they are immaculate. Tacoma Country & Golf Club is renowned in the whole State for having some of the finest greens in perfect condition. And this conditioning extends to all areas of the course. This really is second-to-none grounds-keeping. 

Likewise, the practice facilities are superb. Of particular interest is the grass range which again, is in outstanding condition. 

See also: What are the best golf courses in Bend, Oregon?

Fircrest Golf Club

Fircrest Golf Club, Tacoma, Washington 2, PErmission Given

We finish up with one of the finest golf courses in Washington State, let alone Tacoma. Fircrest Golf Club is a sensational layout which is consistently recognised by all the major golf publications.

It is yet another golf course which has been here over a century, and a core part of the Tacoma landscape. 

The course opened in 1923 and was designed by that man yet again, Arthur Vernon Macan. So highly regarded, many would argue this is Macan’s signature course. 

The routing was constructed from the dense woodland that existed at the time, without any roads or houses to be seen. Clearly things have moved on since then, but what hasn’t is the sensational layout. 

This first-class course has remained as Macan would have envisioned. Beautifully framed by the immense Dougals firs, leading up to a number of pristine greens, many of them multi-tiered. 

The 165-acre plot features a number of rolling hills which add to the strategy and excitement. No wonder Fircrest has on many occasions hosted high-profile tournaments, many of which were on the PGA Tour. 

If you do get an invite here, cherish it and enjoy every moment of this premier yet friendly club.

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