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|The 18th hole at the Trophy Lake Golf & Casting Club features a waterfall. (Jason Deegan/WorldGolf.com)|
The Kitsap Peninsula near Seattle is not only beautiful, it's also a hidden golf destination gem. Golf courses such as The Olympic at Gold Mountain, Trophy Lake Golf & Casting Club, and McCormick Woods make the trip worth it.
BREMERTON, Wash. -- The Kitsap Peninsula might be the most under-appreciated golf vacation destination in the Pacific Northwest, but that may be changing.
Never heard of it? You're not alone. The Kitsap Peninsula resides just across the Puget Sound from Seattle. Yet it is so isolated from the mainland it might as well be 400 miles away.
There are only two main avenues to access the Kitsap Peninsula from Seattle: ferries that run from Bremerton to Seattle, or a 45-minute drive to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which crosses the Puget Sound.
Seattle offers all the excitement of the state's largest city: tall buildings, professional sports, a legendary music scene and an all-night, big-city vibe. Conversely, the peninsula is a haven of small towns amid sprawling forests and open spaces. Bikers, backpackers and nature lovers flock to the region in droves.
With the opening of Chambers Bay, host of the 2010 U.S. Amateur and the 2015 U.S. Open, just across the bridge near Tacoma, more golfers will likely find their way to the peninsula's doorstep, too.
With a little extra effort, golfers will discover two of the top five golf courses in Washington state, according to Golfweek: The Olympic Course at Gold Mountain Golf Club (ranked third), and Trophy Lake Golf & Casting Club (ranked fifth). Sprinkle in a solid design at McCormick Woods Golf Course for a spectacular weekend.
Regulars love the backwoods feel of the area's eight golf courses.
"It just feels different once you cross that bridge," brags local resident John Johnson.
It's shocking to fathom that the 36-hole complex at Gold Mountain in Bremerton is a municipal operation. It's world-class in every regard.
The 7,168-yard Olympic Course at Golf Mountain annually challenges some of the best college golfers on the West Coast at a major tournament every fall and hosted the 2006 U.S. Amateur Public Links.
Its fairways climb and weave through soul-stirring stretches of untamed timber. For all its memorable tee shots, the 18th stands out: What other championship course in the world ends with a potentially drivable par 4? It plays downhill 280 yards, tempting players to carry seven bunkers and a pond for a shot at eagle.
The 6,707-yard Cascade Course at Gold Mountain is every bit as scenic, just more playable with punchbowl greens that funnel shots onto the putting surface.
The 7,206-yard Trophy Lake Golf & Casting Club isn't just a draw for golfers; fishermen love it, too. Fly rods are available in the pro shop. The golf course's ponds are stocked with the big catch. There are no true signature holes at Trophy Lake, just a steady stream of good ones woven together like a comfy blanket. It's soothing to play.
McCormick Woods Golf Course in Port Orchard looks and feels more like a country club. Its restaurant is popular, and the staff is friendly. The 7,040-yard golf course doesn't have the wow factor of Gold Mountain or the natural bliss of Trophy Lake. It's no slouch, though. The houses are never in play, but they do steal a little of the secluded feel of the woods a bit.
McCormick Woods' best stretch comes early. The four-hole stretch beginning at the long par-4 third, the No. 1 handicap, introduces a romp through several holes laced with water hazards.
The Golf at the Resort at Port Ludlow is worthy of a tee time as well.
The Silverdale Beach Hotel (www.silverdalebeachhotel.com) in Silverdale features 151 recently renovated rooms, an indoor pool, tennis courts and is located just minutes from two casinos and the Kitsap Mall.
Its lounge has live music on the weekends. The scenic waterfront doesn't offer a swimming beach but still is a draw for families. Bonfires held on the lawn at nights are a relaxing end to the day.
The view out the back of Hampton Inn and Suites in downtown Bremerton features a marina housing expensive yachts and a nice boardwalk along the water. It's centrally located right next to the Seattle Ferry exit and Kitsap Civic Center.
After a night of fine dining at nearby Anthony's, a classy seafood and steak joint highly regarded in the Pacific Northwest, golfers can gear up for early tee times with the hotel's complimentary breakfast.
No other golf destination in Washington can compete with the Kitsap Peninsula when it comes to good golf at great prices. For all of its quality designs, the immediate Seattle area has no course ranked among the state's top 10 public courses, according to Golfweek (unless you count No. 1-ranked Chambers Bay near Tacoma).
July 21, 2009
Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 600 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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