SEATTLE, Wash. -- With the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay closing fast, now's the perfect time to execute a golf trip to the Emerald City.
Since Seattle isn't known as an A-list golf destination in the Pacific Northwest -- Oregon steals much of its thunder -- a three-day getaway with greens fees costing less than $200 remains an attainable goal. Playing Chambers Bay will cost upwards of $229, so don't bother.
Instead, golfers flying into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport can head straight to the tee at The Home Course, 45 minutes away in DuPont. A twilight tee time after 2 p.m. from May through September ($38 weekdays/$43 weekends) will reveal an interesting inland links with some real character. The home of the Pacific Northwest Golf Association and the Washington State Golf Association has more than a dozen authentic sod-wall bunkers to avoid. The Home Course co-hosted the 2010 U.S. Amateur with Chambers Bay.
From there, it's decision time for day two. I would head across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to spend a 36-hole day at Gold Mountain Golf Club on the scenic-and-secluded Kitsap Peninsula. Play the easier-and-cheaper Cascade Course in the morning ($35-$44 depending upon the day in summer) as a warm-up to one of my favorites, the Olympic Course, where a twilight rate after 3 p.m. is the best value in the country at $26-$28. An even better option, though, would be a 36-hole special offering both courses Monday thru Thursday for $89. This allows an earlier second tee time to be booked (between 1-3 p.m.) to ensure a complete round.
All this affordable golf leaves roughly enough extra for a grand finale the following day at Trophy Lake Golf & Casting in Port Orchard. Although just 10 miles away, this John Fought design run by Oki Golf is much flatter than Gold Mountain. To stay within our budget, a $59 greens fee in prime time Monday thru Thursday or a $57 tee time after 2 p.m. on weekends will suffice.
Those who want to stay closer to the hustle and bustle of the big city will take a different path for their second day, steering off into the Seattle suburbs instead. They'll have access to more restaurants, hotels and nightlife, although the golf costs more.
The early birds at Washington National Golf Club in Auburn (35 miles from The Home course) get a better rate Monday thru Thursday on another excellent Oki Golf facility. Teeing off before 8 a.m. costs $65. The University of Washington's home track tends to stay in good shape. That leaves plenty of time in the afternoon to toss a fish head at Pike Place Market or go to the Mariners game.
For the final round on day three, Oki Golf's premier golf course, Coal Creek at the Golf Club at Newcastle, can't be had for less than $100. Its sister course, China Creek, isn't as spectacular visually, but an $80 tee time after 2 p.m. any day is worth it. Those views of the Seattle skyline across Lake Washington will reappear back at the gigantic castle clubhouse, where post-round cocktails will toast a pretty cool trip.