With several courses dating back to the 1890s, Washington has a long and storied history with golf. There are more than 300 courses throughout the state, many of them open to the public, including Chambers Bay, which in 2015 became the first course in the Pacific Northwest to host the prestigious U.S. Open. Over the past 25 years, the state has seen a boom in golf course development, with some of the world’s leading architects designing spectacular, critically acclaimed layouts.

Whatever your golfing style, you’ll find the course for it in Washington. Golfers can enjoy windswept links dotted with gaping bunkers, narrow tracks carved through stands of massive conifers, and sunny high-desert fairways with forever views. Here are some of the most memorable golf courses in Washington State.

Golf Courses East of the Cascades

Gamble Sands

About 30 miles northeast of Lake Chelan, sunny and spectacular Gamble Sands opened in 2014 on a high-desert mesa overlooking a dramatic bend in the Columbia River, which flows 300 feet below. Designed by Scottish golf course architect David McLay Kidd, this wide-open links-style course with nary a tree in sight adjoins a 37-room boutique hotel. At over 7,000 yards, it’s a long track, but the fairways tend to run fast, and the expansive, relatively forgiving greens make this a great adventure for all skill levels. And if you’re wanting to test your bunker game, you’ve come to the right place. The on-site Danny Boy Bar & Grill is rightly known for juicy burgers and steaks. 

Suncadia Resort 

Courtesy of Suncadia Resort

With first-rate lodgings, restaurants, and myriad recreational facilities, Suncadia Resort is built atop a former coal mine just outside the charming historic towns of Cle Elum and Roslyn and stretches across 6,400 forested acres with dazzling views of the surrounding Cascade Range. Suncadia is home to a pair of golfing gems: Opened in 2005, the peppy Prospector course presents sweeping fairways that cut through swatches of ponderosa pine and are punctuated by Arnold Palmer’s signature bunkering. Jim Hardy and Pacific Northwest golfing legend Peter Jacobsen designed the Rope Rider course in 2011. It’s considered the more forgiving and family-friendly of the two, with special youth tees on each hole. The resort is also well-regarded for its golf clinics and private classes.

Kalispel Golf and Country Club

Established in 1898 and purchased by the Native Kalispel Tribe in 2015, the venerable Kalispel Golf and Country Club offers players the opportunity to experience one of the most historic golf courses in Washington. The 6,600-yard layout, which is set along the south bank of the curvy Little Spokane River, lies just 10 miles north of downtown Spokane and features plenty of classic elements, like high-risk, high-reward doglegs and sometimes narrow fairways framed by soaring evergreens. Acclaimed golf course architect Robert Muir Graves gave the course a complete redesign in 1988. Following your round, savor creatively prepared steaks and seafood in the charming 1898 Public House. 

Apple Tree Golf Course

Photo courtesy of Visit Yakima

Named in honor of one of Yakima’s most famous locally grown exports (cherries, hops, and wine grapes are also in the mix), the Apple Tree Golf Course is perhaps best regarded for the whimsical design of the 10,000-square-foot island green on the par-3 17th hole—it’s shaped like an apple, with a sand trap “leaf” and a cart path “stem.” Visitors are sometimes surprised to encounter so many streams and ponds on this exceptionally well-maintained course in the dry Yakima Valley, but that’s part of the fun. On the par 5 18th hole, for instance, you’ll have to avoid a huge pond lining the left fairway and a red-sand apple-shaped bunker guarding the pin.

Wine Valley Golf Club

In the shadow of the Blue Mountains outside Walla Walla’s fertile wine country, Wine Valley Golf Club presents a dramatic layout atop rich soil deposited from the ancient Missoula Floods—it’s one of the best links-style golf courses in Washington. Renowned Pacific Northwest–based architect Dan Hixson used open spaces and the topography carved by wind and water over thousands of years to craft a course that rewards premium shot making. Although the generally wide fairways are forgiving, Wine Valley’s massive bunkers and tight pin placements require a precise and patient short game. 

Palouse Ridge Golf Club

In 2008, John Harbottle—who also designed the outstanding Olympic Course at Gold Mountain—created one of the West’s most admired layouts at the Palouse Ridge Golf Club, on the campus of  Washington State University in Pullman. Its natural links-style track requires golfers to negotiate the swirling breezes common to this part of the state, and 100-foot elevation changes, 49 whiskery bunkers, and two lakes present an array of intriguing obstacles. Many greens are surrounded by swales and hollows and are designed with infinity edges so they appear to drop off in back. 

Golf Courses West of the Cascades

Golf Club at Newcastle

Perched on a rise near Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlife Park that sometimes sits above low clouds, the Golf Club at Newcastle offers impeccably maintained facilities and unimaginable panoramas. Fred Couples teamed with Robert E. Cupp in 1999 to design two layouts with views of downtown Seattle, Puget Sound, Mount Rainier, and the Olympic Mountains. The tougher track of the two, Coal Creek, boasts five rangy par 5s, constant elevation changes, and multitiered greens that are sure to challenge your club-selection abilities. Shorter, a bit gentler, and with five par 3s, China Creek nevertheless demands a capable short game. The club’s elegant Calcutta Grill earns raves for its artfully plated contemporary Pacific Northwest cuisine.

Chambers Bay Golf Course

Fringing the Puget Sound shoreline just southwest of Tacoma, Chambers Bay Golf Course, which hosted the U.S. Open in 2015, ranks among the top public venues in the country, and one of the most beloved golf courses in Washington State. Designed by iconic architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., this natural, links-inspired layout unfurls across a former sand-and-gravel mine that’s been crafted into a wonderland of rolling dunes, perilous rough, speedy fairways, and gaping sand traps. This extraordinarily long course known for consistently windy conditions can test the mettle of even low handicappers, but the once-notoriously bumpy greens—replaced with smoother native grass in 2019—are now one of the course’s best attributes.

Olympic Course at Gold Mountain

Photo courtesy of Gold Mountin Golf Club

A big part of what makes the undulating Olympic Course at Gold Mountain special is the breathtaking mountain vistas. Located 8 miles from downtown Bremerton, this relatively long and verdant course is where superstar Justin Spieth won his second U.S. Junior Amateur in 2011. The fairly wide fairways encourage an aggressive approach from the tees, but the many sharply sloping greens with ample bunkers reward golfers with a firm command of their wedges and putters. Gold Mountain’s second gorgeous 18-hole layout, Cascade, is less hilly and with fewer hazards, making it a favorite of mid to higher-handicapper golfers.

Salish Cliffs Golf Club

Operated by the Squaxin Island Tribe in Shelton and adjoining stylish Little Creek Casino & Resort, Salish Cliffs Golf Club has a gorgeous setting, a challenging layout, and a deep commitment to protecting the surrounding environment, with its thriving fish and wildlife habitat: It’s the first golf course in the world to have earned certification from the nonprofit conservation organization, Salmon-Safe. With elevation gains of more than 600 feet, this vertiginous and extremely lush course opened in 2011 and affords spectacular vistas of the Kamilche Valley. Holes number 9 and 18 are much celebrated for sharing a massive 15,000-square-foot green fringed by verdant wetlands and a pristine lake. 

Port Ludlow Golf Course

Photo courtesy of Port Ludlow

On the very eastern edge of the Olympic Peninsula, the alluring Port Ludlow Golf Course boasts rugged scenic beauty, wild native grasses, and colorful wildflowers run amok. On this course, you’ll encounter significant elevation changes, forced carries, and expansive views of Port Ludlow Bay and both the Olympic and Cascade mountains. Part of an expansive resort that includes a marina and an inviting 37-room inn, this emerald-green course designed by Robert Muir Graves also serves as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, making it a favorite of wildlife-loving golf enthusiasts. 

Semiahmoo Golf & Country Club

The beautifully kept fairways of Semiahmoo Golf & Country Club overlook Blaine’s scenic Drayton Harbor and the snowy peak of Mount Baker in the distance. Part of the upscale Semiahmoo Resort, this evergreen-lined track designed by Arnold Palmer earns raves for its nicely manicured (and devilishly fast) greens and for tricky tee placements that reward strategic planning. A favorite is the par 3 12th hole, with its dazzling views and a challenging carry over water. Throughout the course, you’ll also have to maneuver among 67 bunkers. The club also home to the acclaimed Jeff Coston Golf Academy. 

About the Author

Freelance editor and writer Andrew Collins is based in Mexico City but returns frequently to the Pacific Northwest, where he is the editor of both the official Washington State Visitors’ Guide and the Visit Seattle Official Visitors’ Guide. He regularly updates several Washington chapters of the Fodor’s Pacific Northwest guidebook and is the author of Ultimate Road Trips US and Canada. Collins writes about travel for The Points Guy and several other publications. You can read his work at AndrewsTraveling.com.