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From Chambers Bay to craft beer: 10 reasons to play golf in Tacoma, Washington

Ed SchmidtBy Ed Schmidt,
Chambers Bay golf course
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Chambers Bay earns its name with views of the Puget Sound. (Ed Schmidt/Golf Advisor)

Stunningly scenic golf courses, a world-class classic car museum and a lively craft beer scene are just a few of Tacoma, Washington's enticements.

While typically absent on the list of instantly recognizable golf vacation destinations, Tacoma has quietly evolved as a great place to tee up and enjoy a wealth of engaging off-the-course activities.

Here are 10 reasons to visit Tacoma for golf:

1. Chambers Bay

Site of the 2015 U.S. Open, Chambers Bay, along the shores of the Puget Sound with the Olympic Mountains in the distance, has dramatically elevated Tacoma's golf presence. Designed by Robert Trent Jones II, it has a bit of everything from huge sand dunes, tall grasses, waste areas and mounds to click-clacking trains rolling by and the blue waters of the Sound.

2. Salish Cliffs Golf Club

Located in Shelton at the Little Creek Casino Resort, about a 20-minute drive from downtown Tacoma, Salish Cliffs Golf Club, a Gene Bates design, has radical elevation changes and 360-degree views of Kamilche Valley. Superbly maintained with bent grass greens, Salish Cliffs has an excellent selection of uphill and downhill holes and fair landing areas off the tee for all skill levels.

3. Variety of golf options

The Tacoma area has nearly two-dozen courses open for public play. Two popular, affordably priced options affording views of Mt. Ranier and the Cascade Mountains are long-time favorites Allenmore and Brookdale Golf Club. The Golf Club at Hawks Prairie, with 36-holes, features the Links Course, a Scottish-links-style layout stretching out to the mouth of the Puget Sound, and the Woodlands Course, a quintessential Pacific Northwest course with dense forest, ponds and wetlands. Others courses to consider are Eagles Pride Golf Club, North Shore Golf Club and Whispering Firs.

4. Footgolf at Meadow Park

Do you know if your soccer skills are up to par on the golf course? You can find the answer to that question at Meadow Park. The nine-hole footgolf course is shorter than a regular layout and has 21-inch holes to accommodate soccer balls. An 18-hole round of footgolf at Meadow Park costs $12.50 for adults and $8 for age 20 and under. A game of footgolf takes approximately 90 minutes to play. Meadow Park, which is part of Metro Parks Tacoma, has 27 traditional golf holes as well.

5. LeMay–America's Car Museum

If you love classic cars, this place is gear-head heaven. The 165,000-square-foot museum houses up to 350 cars, including a 1930 Duesenberg Model J Roadster, 1958 Chevy Impala and 1966 Buick Skylark GS. Special exhibits are highlighted by "American Muscle Cars," "British Invasion" and "The NASCAR Story."

6. Five-mile drive and trails

Weaving through a mature forest, this area will immerse you in the majestic beauty of the Pacific Northwest. A variety of hiking trails feature panoramas of the Puget Sound, Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges, Vashon Island and Gig Harbor.

7. Great craft beer scene

Cheers! There are 15 craft beer breweries in the Tacoma area. Some suggestions: Engine House No. 9, which has 23 beers on tap and a dining room; Tacoma Brewing Company, with 12 beers on tap; and Harmon Taproom, where 10 beers on tap and a pizza and sandwich menu are the draw.

8. Casino gaming

For those who like to wager on and off the course, Tacoma provides a plethora of opportunities to hits the slots, play black jack and put some money on red or black. There are about a dozen casinos in the Tacoma area. Some of the more popular places to gamble include Emerald Queen Casino, Great American Casino and Little Creek Casino Resort.

9. Desirable dining

Tacoma has an eclectic dining scene offering visitors lots of options to celebrate after a great day on the fairways. Some popular choices are the Asian Dining Lounge (Thai and Asian), Dirty Oscar's Annex (New American), Duke's Chowder House (seafood and soups), El Gaucho (steak), Marrow Kitchen & Bar (New American), Marzano (Italian) and Pacific Grill (seafood and pub food).

10. Point Defiance Park

One of the nation's most beautiful urban parks -- the 702-acre Point Defiance -- encompasses a zoo and aquarium, rose garden, beaches, trails and a boardwalk. You can also catch a ferry to Vashon Island and Fort Nisqually.

More photos

Salish Cliffs Golf ClubSalish Cliffs Golf Club signChambers Bay - trainLeMay – America's Car MuseumTacoma Brewing CompanyPoint Defiance Park - aquarium

Ed Schmidt, publisher of The Golf Travel Guru Blog, is the author of two books on Florida golf and more than 2,500 articles and columns on golf resorts, courses and destinations around the world. Follow Ed on Twitter at @golftravelguy.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Gig Harbor

    CS wrote on: Nov 24, 2015

    Great article. Too bad he missed one of the top destinations when planning a golfing trip to our area...and that's just right across the Narrows Bridge to Gig Harbor, WA. Quaint maritime city, great restaurants,top-notch hotels, and lots of history.


  • Lake Spanaway

    John Ladenburg wrote on: Nov 20, 2015

    Good comments on local courses, but you really should have included Lake Spanaway which is one of the best. It regularly hosts tournaments, including a State Amateur championship.


      • RE: Lake Spanaway

        Edward Schmidt Jr. wrote on: Nov 23, 2015

        John, you are correct. Lake Spanaway is an excellent Tacoma course to play and a really good value.