I truly love playing golf here in the Central Valley. There are plenty of beautiful and challenging courses scattered throughout California and most of the golf I play is here in the 209. But you can only play the same courses over and over again until you get the urge to explore new terrain.
The real beauty of golf which sets it apart from other sports is that each course is unique to itself and offers a new set of challenges to face. Unlike most sports which are always played in the same fashion no matter the setting, golf is a completely different experience for each course you visit.
Another aspect of golf which makes it so amazing and unlike any other sport is that you can go play the same courses that the most iconic and legendary players have played on. Only in your dreams can you ever imagine going and playing in front of a packed house at Madison Square Garden, or hitting a homer out of Fenway Park. But you could book a tee time at Pebble Beach or The Old Course at Saint Andrews tomorrow and stand on the same grounds as Jack Nicholaus and Tiger Woods and all the other greats of the game.
Every now and then my friend John and I will plan out a golf trip to go explore these hidden gems and iconic venues. Traveling is something that makes the game more enjoyable and memorable for us. In April we booked a trip to Washington to meet up with our friend Michael and the three of us played three spectacular courses.
The first round we played was at Salish Cliffs Golf Club in Shelton Washington. The course was immaculate to say the least. Carved out of the Kamilche Valley, this par 72 championship course had some of the nicest views I’ve witnessed on a golf course. There were many tests of skill with uphill and downhill shots and a 600-foot change in elevation through 18 holes. One thing I enjoyed the most was the absence of homes. I love being surrounded by trees and undulating hills not only for the lush scenery, but I don’t have to worry about slicing into anyone’s window.
After we finished at Salish Cliffs, we drove 30 miles west to play our second round of the day at The Home Course in Dupont. Once ranked as the number two best public course in Washington, it is easy to see why The Home Course will house the offices for the USGA, PNGA (Pacific Northwest Golf Association), and Washington Golf. As we played through our rounds, we got a panoramic views of Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains, and a few glimpses of Mount Rainier in the distance.
The course was manicured like a private country club and there were so many people young and old out playing the course. When we got onto the back nine a young lady golfer joined our group and she was a plus one handicap. John, Mike and I were in awe watching her play the game. She was outdriving us and hit just about every fairway and green in regulation. I’d never played with someone so talented until that day and it made the experience even more memorable. It was unlike any golf experience I’ve had.
Back here in the 209 you have a lot of weekend hackers out just having a fun time slapping the ball around and catching a buzz. There is nothing wrong with just hitting the course to hang out with your friends and have a few laughs, but the whole vibe at The Home Course was all about the love of the game and honing your talents.
Our third and final round came the next morning. We played the iconic Chambers Bay, which hosted the 2015 U.S Open where Jordan Spieth won and they just finished up the 2021 U.S Amateur Four-Ball Championship. This was by far the most stunning and beautiful course I’ve ever been to.
Built upon an old gravel mine adjacent to Puget Sound, Chambers Bay is an 18-hole par 72 course designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Jr. Upon arriving to the golf course, you must first check in at the clubhouse which presents a breathtaking view of the links style course.
The difference between a links course and your more generic everyday course you’d see in the 209 is the way the course presents itself. Links courses date back to the very first golf course ever created at The Old Course in Saint Andrews Scotland in the early 15th century. All true links style courses are found alongside the sea.
Back in the 1500s, course designers didn’t have many tools to work with so most of the land has maintained its original layout. Instead of being challenged by trees or house lined fairways, links courses test a golfer’s course management by utilizing the natural elements of the terrain. Undulating hills, long grassy knolls, and windswept dunes are what makes up a links course. You won’t find many trees or homes when playing a true links course.
Chambers Bay is as true to links style golf that you’ll find here in the United States. Due to the lack of trees and openness of the course, there really is no one true way to play the course. Golfer of all handicaps can play their own style and shape their shots around the greens because there is so much room to utilize.
As summer approaches and we leave spring behind I find myself searching all over the globe for my next big golf trip. Some that come to mind is We-Ko-Pa in Scottsdale Arizona, Cabot Cliffs in Inverness Nova Scotia, or Bandon Dunes in Bandon Oregon. If you are planning a golf trip and have some great stay and play courses in mind or if you are looking to plan a buddies’ trip and are unsure of where to go email me at email@example.com and we can discuss more in depth how to go about planning a trip. For the next issue I will be booking some lessons with a local professional and talking about my experience and what I learned. Until next time, hit it hard.