All You Can Eat

Published on Tuesday, August 16th, 2016 in Features

The Golf Club at Newcastle - - Coal Creek (photo by Rob Perry/robperry,com)

The Golf Club at Newcastle – – Coal Creek (photo by Rob Perry/robperry,com)

by Brian Beaky

Some days, 18 holes just aren’t enough.

Especially at this time of year — when our sunny weather is at its peak, the days are 16 hours long, the kids are out of school and it’s easy to slide in a vacation day without anyone taking too much notice. There’s also that nagging feeling that starts to kick in around late August that says that golf season, or at least the best of it, is coming to a close. When it’s 1 o’clock on a warm, sunny day, and you have no place to be, putting the clubs back in the trunk just feels … wasteful. There are only so many days left with weather like this; we owe it to ourselves to make the most of them.

More often than not, if we’re going to play one round in the summer, we plan ahead to play two. And it’s amazing how good we usually feel stepping onto that 19th tee — you may not know until you try it, but 18-hole warm-ups work wonders for your golf game. You can play the same track twice if that’s your preference, but we usually like to mix it up, whether that means playing two different courses — some perennial favorites to pair include Port Ludlow and Cedars at Dungeness, McCormick Woods and Trophy Lake, or Druids Glen and Washington National — or, heading to a course that features more than 18 holes on the property. While the former plan gives you the chance to experience two completely different tracks, it’s more time-consuming, and can in some cases be more costly — many courses with more than 18 holes offer all-day play or replay rates that will save you significantly on your second round, while the time you save not having to drive from course to course is invaluable.

There are several such courses in our region that offer either 27 or 36 holes of championship golf, plus many more with executive or par-3 tracks on the property (or, in the case of Willows Run, all of the above). Here’s where you’re most likely to find us making the most of these late-summer days over the next six weeks.

GOLF CLUB AT NEWCASTLE

Newcastle | newcastlegolf.com

The Golf Club at Newcastle and its two 18-hole courses, Coal Creek and China Creek, are probably the one place just about every local golfer takes friends from out of town, when we’re trying to impress. That first view from the top of the hill, as you’re driving up the winding road to Newcastle’s clubhouse, is take-your-breath-away amazing. Seemingly all of Western Washington is laid out in front of you, from Bellevue, to Everett, to Sea-Tac, plus Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, the Sound and the Olympics. It’s hard to imagine a better view from the top of Columbia Crest.

Then you pull up to the clubhouse, and it’s like you’re walking into an English manor estate — from the elegant exterior construction, right down to the easy chairs, library and dark-wood paneling in the Wooly Toad pub. And the golf courses themselves are fantastic — both kept in tip-top shape, with holes that tumble up, down and across the hillside, and nearly all of which keep that incredible view in sight. It’s the one course guaranteed to make an out-of-towner say, “Wow.”

Both courses hit triple digits in the summertime, though public rates drop as low as $70 at China in the evenings, Coal bottoms out at $75 for Oki Card holders, with Annual Golf Plans that make per-round fees even more affordable. But for most of us, they’re courses we save for special occasions, like those out-of-town guests or an important business meeting.

All that put together, though — the views, the amazing courses, the feeling of “specialness” each time you make the occasion to play there — make for a fantastic 36-hole day. We’ve done it, once, in 2011, and our experience was a perfect example of what makes Newcastle special. We started out on Coal, soaking in the views while we played some of our favorite par-3s and one of the best risk-reward holes in the state, the par-5 17th, where the green seems perched right on the edge of the Earth. By the time we teed off on China (which, for our money, is every bit as good as Coal), temperatures had reached 106 degrees — so what did Newcastle do? They loaded up a beverage cart with ice water and offered it free to every player on the course, for the rest of the day. That’s the whole Newcastle vibe — country-club prestige, in a public course setting. If you’re looking to be treated like a king for a day, it’s the perfect spot.

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