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Cabo del Sol – The Desert Course

A few years back my family made the decision to spend the holidays in Mexico. While we certainly miss the freezing rain in dreary Seattle, endless hours decorating my family home, shopping, and wrapping presents …  oh, wait. We don’t miss it much at all. We’re too busy spending 75-degree days by the pool, snorkeling with whale sharks in La Paz, spending quality family time sans MacBooks, iPads, and iPhones, and most importantly, golfing. Needless to say, it was a great decision.

Gosh I really miss spending Christmas in Seattle. Said no one on my family vacation ever:

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This year I spent several days playing different courses in Cabo. I woke up early, played rounds in less than four hours, and was back by the pool for margaritas by 1pm. I fell in love with both courses at Cabo del Sol. While the Ocean Course gets all the glory, the Desert Course is not to be missed. Tom Weisskopf designed this course which opened in December 2001.

The sunrise from the clubhouse was absolutely stunning:

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Yes, I would enjoy a coffee with Baileys, thank you very much:

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View of the sunrise from the fairway of the first hole:

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No better way to spend my holiday!

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The fairways and greens were in excellent shape. Now this is the type of wide-open fairway I could really get used to. 😉

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The design of the course allows for stunning ocean views, but also takes golfers through the desert:

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then back to the ocean:

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My brother, never one to go easy on me, insisted I play from the whites. He was not about to let me “basically tee off on the fairway.” Let’s just say my score went up a few notches.

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Everyone has a nemesis club. Mine is my five wood. Here’s me taking a risk by using my five wood to launch the ball as far down the fairway as possible:

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It actually worked out well for me on this shot, but I definitely need to take a few lessons to sharpen up my swing!!!

Here’s the view from the whites where I’m dreaming of moving up to the reds. 😉

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Check out this view on the way back towards the clubhouse. I wish I were there now!

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The clubhouse is a 40,000 square foot facility offering indoor and outdoor dining, a full service snack bar, men’s and women’s lounges, private showers, dressing rooms, and vanities. I wish I could move in!

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Overall, this is a spectacular course offering all my favorite amenities: driving range with unlimited balls, great bar and restaurant, outdoor seating, attentive drink cart girl, and amazing cocktails! I don’t ask for much.  😉

We were pleasantly surprised when the club allowed us to store our clubs overnight between tee times. The service was impeccable.

Cabo del Sol is a fantastic reason to head down to Cabo!  (As if you needed one.)

Cheers!

-TravelingGolfGal

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Sand Point Country Club, Seattle, Washington

Sand Point Country Club is a private golf and country club located on the north end of Seattle, Washington.  The Club is situated on Lake Washington and has tennis, an amazing Junior Olympic sized swimming pool and an 18 hole golf course.  The club is private, but I had the opportunity to play the course when a friend won a round of golf at an auction and graciously invited me to join.

The clubhouse is stunning.  Here is a view from the first tee:

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We chose to play the course during the winter months, so we subjected ourselves to the elements.  Despite the pouring rain, the course was beautiful.  It was Seattle-green, with a few of those brilliant fall colors:

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The course was designed by William H. Tucker and opened in 1927.  It’s just over 6,000 yards, so it’s a perfect course to walk.  It has a good mix of side-hill lies, but the views are stunning.

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A few of the fairways were narrow, with those pesky evergreen trees always trying to get in the way:

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It rained.  It poured.  It rained sideways.  At one point my pull cart suddenly blew into another fairway and off a short cliff.  I wish I were joking.  But being a born and raised Seattleite, I played on.

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This was a challenging hole, but a good tee shot proved to be very rewarding.  Thank God for all that time on the range!

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The greens played fast despite the soggy weather.  There are also quite a few small greens, so aim is key on this course.  Here’s a view of the 9th hole:

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Thankfully, not all the greens were too small!

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Overall, I would highly recommend this course.  It’s private, so they keep the riff raff like myself out; it’s in the city of Seattle so the location is perfect/close to downtown; it’s right on Lake Washington; and who can argue with a well-stocked bar with views like this:

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If I ever move back to Seattle, I might have to put myself on the membership waiting list!

Cheers,

Traveling Golf Gal

Ghost Creek Course at Pumpkin Ridge

Portland, Oregon is one of my favorite cities to visit on a weekend getaway.  The city has amazing restaurants, the people are friendly, there’s a great bar scene, and it’s extremely walkable.  Not to mention the spectacular golf opportunities.

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As a golfer, I’ve been wanting to play Pumpkin Ridge, just outside of Portland for years.  I finally had the opportunity and booked a tee time at the Ghost Creek course, which is open to the public.  Ghost Creek did not disappoint!  The Ghost Creek Clubhouse is a beautiful and modern facility, perfect for picking up some golf supplies in the fully stocked golf shop, enjoying lunch or even hosting an event.

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Pumpkin Ridge prides itself on delivering outstanding amenities and superior personal service.  The driving range and putting greens are beautiful and offer free practice balls.  I could practice here all day:

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After warming up, I was ready for a great round!  Here’s the view from the first tee, a par 5:

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What a beautiful day it was in early September, on the cusp of fall.  The trees were just starting to show off those gorgeous fall colors:

IMG_4502Ghost Creek is very walkable, with a few rolling hills.  I recommend walking this course and enjoying the beauty all around.  Here’s the view of the second tee, as you can see the fairway is a bit narrow:

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This is the view of the third hole, a fun downhill par 3:

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Ghost Creek has its fair share of sand traps.  Luckily I was matched up with a golf professional who gave me a lot of great tips for getting out of the sand, including to keep your weight far forward and the club face open.

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I really cannot emphasize enough the beauty of this course.  The evergreens juxtaposed with the fescue really highlighted the beauty of the Northwest:

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Here’s the view of the 9th hole, with the Ghost Creek Clubhouse in the background.  The 9th hole is a tough one, with water hazards on both sides.  The fairway really narrows towards the green.

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This is the view looking back onto the 8th hole green.  I really couldn’t get enough of those fall colors!

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If you’re in the Portland area, do not miss the chance to play Pumpkin Ridge!  Next time, I’m definitely going to try to sneak onto Witch Hollow, the private course:

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STAY

When landing in Portland at PDX, it’s always important to take a photo of that famous PDX carpet:

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There are so many great options for hotels in Portland.  I love the downtown area and the Pearl District.  My two favorite hotels in Portland are the Heathman Hotel, where the service is so top notch that they will remember your name, and The Nines.  I recently stayed at the Nines, which has modern rooms, great restaurants and a cool rooftop bar scene.  Here are the rooms, which I promptly photographed upon arrival so I could steal the decor ideas for my own bedroom:

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Another reason to love The Nines is the Urban Farmer restaurant, which has my favorite brunch in Portland.  On weekends, do not miss the bloody mary bar!

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Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past decade, you know that Portland has an amazing restaurant scene.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Veritable Quandary: sit outside on the romantic patio and order the Osso Bucco, about which I frequently fantasize!
  • Gruner.  Here’s a few of the dishes I love:

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I hope you’ve found this guide to Portland and Pumpkin Ridge helpful!  After writing this, I’m ready to go back to Portland to play golf and eat my way through the city all over again!  Cheers!

Arrowhead Golf Club, Littleton, CO

It’s about time I left the West Coast!!  Lucky for me, my brother lives in Denver, Colorado.  This provides plenty of opportunities for amazing ski weekends during the winter months and golf outings during the summer months.  One of my favorite courses in Colorado is Arrowhead Golf Club in Littleton, Colorado.  Arrowhead is nestled in the striking flat irons of Roxborough Park.  The foothill views are visually stunning.  I mean, STUNNING.  Check out the view of the driving range:

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Not surprisingly, this course is one of the most photographed golf courses in America.

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The course has extreme elevation changes, providing dramatic views amongst thousands of feet of ancient red sandstone rocks.  How amazing is the view from the tee box on this par 3?!?

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Don’t think you’d be relieved of water hazards just because you’re in the Rocky Mountains:

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I recommend playing in the afternoon, since it was a bit windy the morning we tee’d off.  Let’s just say I really needed that extra sleeve of balls you receive upon arrival… Plus, the afternoon light is spectacular for viewing this course.

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If you’re lucky, you’ll even get to see a bit of Colorado wildlife roaming around:

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While you’re in Colorado, there is so much to see and do.  Last time I was in town, my brother and his wife took me to the Garden of the Gods, a public park in Colorado Springs, CO.  I highly recommend checking it out on your next trip to Colorado:

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The Garden of the Gods’ red rock formations were created during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line millions of years ago. Archaeological evidence shows that prehistoric people visited Garden of the Gods about 1330 BC.  Here’s me in 2015 AD:

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Be sure to play Arrowhead Golf Club on your next trip to Colorado.  Let me know your favorite courses in Colorado!  I’d love to try to beat my brother at your top Colorado courses.  😉

Alderbrook Golf Course on Hood Canal, Washington

Alderbrook Golf Club is located in Union, Washington on Hood Canal, between the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.  The golf course is 6,338 yards with par of 72, open year-round.  One of my favorite parts about this course is the stunning views of the Olympic Mountains.  Here’s the view of the 18th hole:

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I also love the fact that you get to use this 30-foot periscope to see when you’re able to tee off from the 18th tee box:

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The course offers challenging terrain and uniquely designed holes.  The 8th hole is famous for its Z-shape, so bring your distance measuring devices!  Making par on the 8th is a win.

You really feel as though your out in nature when playing this course, which is refreshing for a city gal like myself.  It’s not unusual to see wildlife:

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The course is located just above Hood Canal, which is a favorite weekend destination for Seattleites.  When you’re finished with your golf game, the Canal is perfect for water sports, digging for clams and oysters, and enjoying the amazing views:

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Here’s a view of the Canal during low tide, where you can see all the oysters on the beach:

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If you go, stay the night at Alderbrook Resort & Spa.  It’s a stunning property situated right on the Canal with a beautiful dock.  I love relaxing on the deck after golf, enjoying great food (try the Grand Marnier Prawns and Fish Tostada!) and cocktails at the restaurant.  Even better, there’s a full spa.  Fun fact: both the Nordstrom family and the Gates family have homes on the Canal.  It’s not uncommon to see Bill Gates at the Alderbrook Resort.  You can see why:

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Next time you’re in Washington State, put this course on your list!  Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram at travelinggolfgal.  Cheers!

White Horse Golf Club, Kingston, Washington

When I was in the Seattle area for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, I played White Horse Golf Club in Kingston, WA. White Horse is a short ferry ride away from the Seattle area. Playing this course is the perfect opportunity to take a classic ferry ride across the Puget Sound from Edmonds, WA to Kingston, WA. The Course offers free transportation to and from the Kingston Ferry Terminal. [Side note: I recommend walking on the ferry and being picked up as opposed to driving onto the ferry to avoid potential long ferry lines.] This is the view of the clubhouse upon arriving:

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White Horse is an 18-hole, par 72 course nestled among old growth fir, pine and cedar trees in a classic Pacific Northwest setting. It was purchased by the Suquamish Indian Tribe in 2010, who softened the course conditions (it was once considered one of the most difficult courses in the Northwest) and built a beautiful clubhouse. Local architect John Harbottle made the course playable for all golfers by removing almost half of the bunkers and creating more accessible approach shots onto the greens. Speaking of green, White Horse is a stark contrast to Chambers Bay:

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This course is one of my new favorite courses to play in the Seattle area. It’s challenging, but offers sweet rewards for good play.  Here I am teeing off on the second hole:

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I played this course with an old friend, who got me into golf in the first place. I hate to admit it, but not only does he have a much better swing, I’ll never be able to beat him (it’s always good to dream, though, right?!):

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We walked the course, which was great exercise and provided a lot of wonderful scenery along the way. What a beautiful day it was in the Northwest! Here’s one of the par 3s:

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My favorite hole was the 18th, which has water along the left side, leading up to the beautiful clubhouse:

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Don’t miss having a drink on the patio after your round:

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After we begrudgingly left the patio, we headed back to Kingston and had dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants. I recommend spending a bit of time checking out Kingston, it’s very charming. Then it was time to head home on the ferry:

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Definitely put White Horse on your list if you ever play in the Seattle area.  Don’t forget to follow my golf adventures on Instagram: travelinggolfgal!  Cheers!

Eagle Vines Vineyards and Golf Club in Napa Valley

It gets chilly during the summers in San Francisco, so I’ve been trekking up to Marin and Napa to play golf on weekends during this time of year.  Napa Valley has so much to offer, including great restaurants, wineries, resorts and general relaxation away from the city.

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Eagle Vines Vineyards and Golf Club is located on 173 acres in the foothills of Napa Valley.  This is an 18 hole, par 72 challenging golf course situated into the stunning landscape of Napa Valley.  Here’s the view of the first hole, a par 5 which takes you downhill around a large water hazard on the left side and then back up to the green:

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The course was designed in part by the World Golf Hall of Famer Johnny Miller.  It’s surrounded by vineyards, which make for stunning views all around the course.  Here’s a view of the second hole, a par 3 with water guarding the left side.

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This course has a focus on nature and it’s one of the few golf courses that isn’t surrounded by homes.  Beautiful vineyards, lakes and trees indulge your senses along the way.  Here I am enjoying the views:

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I will definitely return to this course – I loved the ambiance, scenery and challenging golf.  My only complaints were that the course was very slow on the back nine due to an earlier tournament and we didn’t see the drink cart once during our round, which would have been nice due to the intense heat [read: I really wanted a glass of wine :)].  Other than that, I had a great time and a great round of golf.  I even came home with a few souvenir golf balls, which is amazing since there are a lot of water hazards!

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After my round, I enjoyed a glass of wine on the patio at The Grill at Eagle Vines, which has delicious food, wines, a full bar and stunning views.  You can’t miss the somewhat hokey mascot at the entrance to the grill:

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STAY

While in Napa over the long weekend, I had the immense pleasure of staying at Solage Calistoga Resort & Spa.  Calistoga is a charming town on the north side of Napa Valley with great restaurants, wineries and beautiful views.  Solage is a luxury resort a short distance from the main strip, located on an amazing property.  The service was outstanding – during check-in/check-out, at the pool, the Michelin-starred restaurant Solbar, and in the spa.  I didn’t want to leave this stunning resort and frankly, wish I were at the pool enjoying some of their delicious dishes and wines right now:

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While you’re in Napa, check out a few of the many wineries.  I recommend making an appointment to taste at Opus One, founded by Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi in 1980.  This winery has some phenomenal wines to taste in an amazing setting:

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Fun fact: the first vintage, 1979 was released in 1984 at the same time as the 1980 vintage. For a while it was the most expensive California wine costing 50 USD.  I wonder how much a bottle of that vintage is today?!  

I look forward to many more weekends of golf and wine in Napa Valley and will keep you updated on my favorite courses, resorts, wineries, and restaurants.  Let me know your favorites so I can check them out!  Cheers!

Peacock Gap Golf Club

I’ve been living in San Francisco for the past year and it’s been amazing exploring all this city has to offer:

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One of the best things about the bay area is that the weather is perfect year-round for playing golf.  While the summer months do get foggy and cold in the city, this is the perfect time to head up to Marin County to find sunnier fairways.  Marin has some excellent and challenging golf, but there are those days you just want a chill non-hilly course with a good bar, an attentive drink cart gal and scenic views.  Peacock Gap Golf Club in San Raphael is perfect for those days.

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Peacock Gap has been recently renovated and has improved greens and fairways, modern facilities and a great driving range.   It’s a classic golf experience, sheltered from the bay area fog and blessed with year-round sunny weather.

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The fairways are inviting, but also have their challenges.  The greens can be deceiving.  This is a course where advanced players can find difficulties, but novices will not sink.  Here’s the third hole, one of my favorites:

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This time of year, Peacock Gap also offers a Women’s Workshop/Getting Started program designed exclusively for women who want to improve all areas of their game or just want to take the game up with their family and friends.  There is a 4 to 1 student teacher, which is perfect for working on your swing.  Be sure to pass this information along if you know any ladies who want to pick up golf in the area!  I love courses that offer ladies’ programs!

Before you head back over the Golden Gate Bridge, I recommend stopping in Tiburon for a post-round round of drinks at Sam’s Anchor Cafe, a favorite destination on the bay.  This restaurant has a huge patio out back on the deck, perfect for views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and the entire bay area.  Enjoy some oysters and a few cocktails on the deck, which is exactly my plan for this weekend!

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Let me know your thoughts on Peacock Gap Golf Club and be sure to follow the adventures of TravelingGolfGal on Instagram

The U.S. Open at Chambers Bay!

I had the pleasure of attending the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay last week.  I was so excited!!  I was initially cheering on Martin Kaymer, my fellow German and favorite player, but he didn’t even make the cut!  As we all know, Jordan Spieth took home the trophy after Dustin Johnson choked on the 18th hole in the final round.  It was such an exciting and shocking ending!  I was almost disappointed we didn’t get to see Spieth and Johnson duke it out on Monday.  Needless to say, I had a serious U.S. Open hangover on Monday when I had to return back to the office.  Here’s a few of my pics:

Despite all the complaints about the conditions on the course, it was absolutely gorgeous:

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Here I am at the practice round on Wednesday, thrilled to be there:

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The view of the 15th green, right along the Puget Sound:

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The 17th hole was one of my favorites to watch:

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I had such a blast watching Phil, Rory, Jordan, Dustin and Jason play all week!

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I can’t wait to watch The 144th Open at St. Andrews starting on July 2015.  Do you think Spieth can pull it off again?

Top Five Places to Golf in Seattle-Tacoma Area

Here’s my quick-and-dirty list of five golf courses to play while you’re in Seattle-Tacoma for the U.S. Open!  While I would normally include Chambers Bay on the list, it’s doubtful you’ll be able to make a tee time this weekend.  😉

1) The Golf Club at Newcastle

The Golf Club at Newcastle is a premier Pacific Northwest golf course featuring 36 holes of championship (read: tough) golf.  This hilltop course offers stunning panoramic views of Lake Washington and Seattle to enjoy while getting your butt kicked on the course.  Coal Creek Course is the course of choice for newcomers due to it’s gorgeous views, elevation change and tough play.  The China Creek Course is a better bet for less experienced golfers.  The 44,000 square foot clubhouse (castle?!) is always a pleasure to visit.  Hit up The Calcutta Grill in the morning for a high-quality Bloody Mary or a Baileys with a splash of coffee.  The Wooly Toad upstairs is the perfect spot to grab post-round drinks and delicious food while bragging about your score with your buddies, watching golf, or playing billiards.

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2)  Gold Mountain Golf Club

This is the first course on which I ever played 18 holes.  It will always have a special place in my heart.  Its 36 holes offer classic Pacific Northwest beauty.  The Olympic Course has received many accolades and hosted quality tournaments, in part due to the playability.  While there are several chances to make birdies, the small greens provide a good challenge.  Notably, it was at this course that Jordan Spieth won the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur.  The Cascade Course has a long history of providing championship golf in the Northwest.  It has tree lined fairways with plenty of driving area for a more friendly golfer experience.  It’s very walkable with minimal elevation change.

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3)  Harbour Pointe Golf Club:  see my review here.

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4)  Druids Glen Golf Club: see my review here.

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5)  White Horse Golf Club

This 18-hole course is one of the most popular courses to play on the Kitsap Peninsula, a short drive and ferry ride away from Seattle.  Each hole is very playable for golfers of all skill levels.  The Cedar Ridge Grill has great food and provides Northwest views overlooking the 18th hole.  White Horse was recognized by Golf Digest as one of the ‘Top 10’ best new public golf courses in 2007.  In 2015, it does not disappoint.

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I hope you enjoy your stay in the Seattle-Tacoma area!  Let me know if you play any of the above courses.  I’d love to hear about your golf experiences!