The veteran athletes at Peregrine Expeditions nurture their already intimate relationships with Mother Nature during skiing and climbing excursions into the icy peaks of Mount Baker or jagged rock faces of Mount Erie. Backcountry skiing courses hone snow-skimming techniques, and intense skiing tours toe the border between the United States and Canada on two-day treks that embark each morning from a hut at base camp. Adrenaline junkies foray into Forbidden Peak for two or three days, conquering the ins and outs of navigating ice, performing mountaintop rescues, and backpacking in challenging conditions. Kid-specific expeditions tone tiny muscles and teach bird calls used to ask eagles the way to the nearest latrine as youngsters grouped by age engage in courses that span one to five days.
Nestled in the bucolic scenery of coastal Washington, Whidbey Golf and Country Club’s par 72 course stretches across 6,467 yards of water-kissed terrain. The round begins with a challenge, as the first tee gives way to the longest and most difficult hole, a 516-yard par 5 where drives must touch down on a narrow landing strip flanked by bunkers or circle in the atmosphere until they get signal clearance. Multiple ponds come into play throughout the round, upping the ante on certain shots with high-risk, high-reward scenarios. Before embarking on their pin-hunting expedition, duffers can trace power draws into the sky or take aim at invading weather balloons at the driving range.
Those hoping to more thoroughly scout their verdant foe can pore over the website’s hole-by-hole description. A one-hour drive or ferry trip north of Seattle, the course is playable year-round, with closures only for Christmas, New Year’s, and Chi Chi Rodriguez Day.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par 72 course
Length of 6,476 yards from the farthest tees
Course rating of 70.7 from the farthest tees
Slope rating of 123 from the farthest tees
Four tee options
The origin story of Gig Harbor Golf Club has a certain Rockwellian flavor. In the early 1950s, the Wollochet Community Club?a group that included local community leader Walter Hogan?discussed building their own country club. The idea generated buzz throughout the community, who invested not just money, but sweat equity. After purchasing a 114-acre farm with a brilliant view of Mount Rainier, the club's charter members took to etching the course into the land, using all of the tools they had at their disposal?some even used spoons, screwdrivers, and garden rakes to dig rocks out of the soil and flatten the turf.
Opened in 1961, the 9-hole labor of love still stands, having benefited from a half century of maturation and trading out fedora hats in favor of flags. The course?which measures 5,420 yards from the farthest tees?presents ample opportunities to score, including four short par-fours in which some golfers may be able to drive the green. The course features two distinct sets of forward and back tees (four tees total), so golfers can play it twice over for an 18-hole round that has a different front- and back-nine experience.
Praised by CityVoters as the best course in western Washington, Avalon Golf Links lays out three nines that offer eye-pleasing glimpses of the Skagit Valley below. Though each nine conceals its own unique set of obstacles, every 1 of the 27 holes place golfers amid a picturesque sweep of Northwestern flora, challenging them to bend shots around towering evergreens and send drives screaming against the backdrop of the Olympic and Cascade ranges. The North Nine bookends the toughest stretch on the course in holes four through seven, a rigorous test requiring approaches as steady as the hand of a neurosurgeon playing Operation. Though short in comparison, the West Nine is notable for its tight fairways and frequent East-to-West orientation, yielding panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains. The South Nine punishes poor approaches with challenging greens, where balls frequently run away from their owners when struck too firmly or distracted by a particularly attractive goose egg.
After testing mind and body over 18 holes, Avalon's Sweet Bite Cafe stands at the ready to refuel tuckered-out golfers with breakfast served starting at 7:30 a.m. on weekends and sandwiches served starting at 11 a.m.
Course at a Glance:
Three nine-hole, par 36 courses
Total length up to 6,803 yards from the back tees
Course rating up to 72.3 from the back tees
Course slope up to 126 from the back tees
Four sets of tees
Designed by Robert Muir Graves
When viewed from the sky, the fairways at Sudden Valley Golf & Country Club resemble lush terraces descending into Lake Whatcom, like some grandiose, modern version of Incan horticulture. From a player's perspective, this visually dynamic setting makes for two very different nines. The front nine roams the flat shores of the lake, easing golfers into the round with wide fairways and large greens. A much different challenge awaits on the course's second act, as the fairways climb up a ridge and cleave through dense evergreens, demanding accuracy and smart approach shots onto smaller greens. Water hazards on 14 of 18 holes make the path to an under-par round even more treacherous, and 47 sandtraps peppered throughout the layout provide a soft landing spot for long-jump competitions in between shots.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 6,553 yards from the tips * Course rating of 71.5 from the tips * Slope rating of 130 from the tips * Three tee options
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