SEATTLE AND SURROUNDS
Orientation The hometown of Starbucks and Microsoft climbs up a steep hill overlooking Puget Sound and offers views of the Olympic Mountains beyond. Boats and ferries leaving from the waterfront connect to the San Juan and other nearby islands, as well as to Victoria, British Columbia. Seattle's traffic is among the worst in the nation, so golfers should plan their excursions to or from downtown at off-hours or, better yet, give themselves a cushion so as not to miss their tee times. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is located twenty-five minutes south of the city (without traffic) and is serviced by all major carriers.
Gold Mountain Golf Complex, Olympic
7263 West Belfair Valley Road, Bremerton, WA; 360-415-5432, goldmt.com. Yardage: 7,073. Par: 72. Slope: 131. Architect: John Harbottle III, 1996. Greens Fees: $25–$50. T+L GOLF Rating: **** 1/2
The Olympic course has a reputation for draining well, which is what golfers need to do with their putts on this crisply managed muni with a private feel. (The course gets its name from the Olympic Mountain Range, whose forests it is carved from.) John Harbottle's fine work here features wide rye-grass fairways and fescue rough. Sculpted angles of play and narrow mowing patterns on the fairways are endemic, as are tee shots hit into upslopes that often work to kill distance. The sixth hole offers a lovely snapshot of Harbottle's artistry, with pot bunkers along the left side of this 546-yard par five that reflect mirror images of mounds on the right side. The eighteenth offers a strange and daring finish: It's a 325-yard par four that encourages the player to attack the green over a battlefield of pot bunkers, trees and water—or take the weenie route with an iron to the curving fairway.
Washington National Golf Club
14330 SE Husky Way, Auburn, WA; 253-333-5000, washingtonnationalgolfclub.com. Yardage: 7,304. Par: 72. Slope: 143. Architect: John Fought, 2000. Greens Fees: $52–$94. T+L GOLF Rating: ****
Forty minutes south of Seattle, John Fought designed an exciting syllabus for Washington National, a facility with a University of Washington theme that serves as the home course for the school's golf teams. (The UW colors of purple and gold adorn everything from flags to staff uniforms, and every purple-trimmed golf cart is named for a former Husky sports legend.) In the hope of attracting a U.S. Open to the venue, Fought also incorporated features from some of the world's best golf layouts: diagonal shot qualities and mounded greens similar to Augusta National; bunker styles that recall Riviera and Winged Foot; natural dunesy waste areas like those at Pine Valley; and humongous putting surfaces that emulate Oakmont. Like many Open venues, Washington National also includes four exceptionally long par fours—including number eighteen, which plays 475 yards over wasteland and a fronting bunker to a green as large as some campus quads. Unfortunately for high handicappers, scores at Washington National are not graded on a curve.
Also Play: McCormick Woods Golf Course (Port Orchard, WA; $18–$55, 360-895-0130) could qualify for first-tier status if homes hadn't begun crowding this fine Jack Frei design to such a degree that you might want to include an insurance agent and a lawyer as part of your foursome. Celebrating the ages-old connection between golf and fishing, Trophy Lake Golf & Casting Club (Port Orchard, WA; $29–$74, 360-874-8337) is a perky, modern John Fought design that is nestled neatly across rolling hills. The risk-reward venue has expansive greens and more than six dozen deep-faced bunkers to hinder one from reaching said greens.
1112 Fourth Avenue, Seattle; 877-946-8357, whotels.com. Rooms: $229–$409.
The hip W is centrally located near Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, the Space Needle and several top restaurants. Its sleek rooms include CD players and access to the hotel's extensive CD collection.
(Seafood) 2234 First Avenue, Seattle; 206-728-8595. $$$
Staffed by a bunch of renegade golfers, Flying Fish serves up a stunning variety of underwater species, all caught wild rather than farm raised. In the trendy Belltown neighborhood, chef/owner Christine Keff provides a dining room as spunky as her food is unique.
Gazillionaire Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen threw his money at architect Frank Gehry to design a four-story, vaguely guitar-shaped building called the Experience Music Project (emplive.com), an overcaffeinated music museum and interactive space that's a must-see for any Seattle explorer. Next, thread the Space Needle (spaceneedle.com) to orient yourself to Mount Rainier to the southeast and the majestic Olympic Range across Puget Sound to the west. Downtown, on your way to one of the city's ubiquitous coffee shops, pick up the latest potboiler at Elliott Bay Book Company (800-962-5311), one of the best independent booksellers in America. And no trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to the nine-acre Pike Place Market, the nation's oldest continually working farmers market. Here you'll find the city's freshest seafood, baked goods and produce—and, of course, the singular treat of watching fishmongers hurl giant salmon at each other.