Jefferson Park Golf Course
You wouldn’t know it from driving past Jefferson Park, located atop Beacon Hill just across I-5 from the stadium district, but there are few spots in the region that boast more history than Jefferson’s 6,200 yards of green fairways.
Originally opened in 1915 — exactly one century ago — Jefferson Park is Seattle’s oldest public golf course. The U.S. Army stationed anti-aircraft batteries and searchlights there during World War II. The nation’s second-oldest African-American golf club, the Fir State Golf Club, was founded there in 1947. Legendary boxer Joe Louis played there during a visit to Seattle. And if you see a gray-haired, seven-footer smacking balls long and true on Jefferson’s fairways these days, it’s merely one of the greatest basketball players of all-time, NBA legend and Seattle resident Bill Russell, a frequent player.
And, of course, Jefferson Park helped launch the career of one of the greatest American golfers of all-time … Tiger Woods, who came to Seattle in 1992, at the age of 16, to teach a junior clinic with his father, Earl. (What, did you think I was going to say Fred Couples? Too easy.)
While it has undergone many changes throughout its near 100-year existence (including, in 2015, the opening of a brand-new, double-deck driving range and beautiful new clubhouse), Jefferson Park has remained popular with professional and amateur golfers alike for the same reasons golfers like just about any course — it’s affordable, and it’s fun.
Played from the blues, it stretches to 6,278 yards, with a rating and slope (70.3 and 120, respectively) indicative of a course that will reward a well-played round with a good score, but can just as easily take strokes away from a golfer who takes it too lightly.
On the front nine, played along a ridge atop Beacon Hill, the most memorable hole is No. 7, a 455-yard par-4 that requires the golfer to play either left or right of a small patch of trees that bisect the fairway and will block the approach of a shot struck down the middle. Trees to the left make the approach down that side treacherous, while views of the sun cresting over the peaks of the Cascades to the east provide an equal distraction to the right.
After the par-3 10th and its tabletop-fast green, the back nine descends down the east side of the hill and back up again, combining the thrill of watching your ball roll out from an elevated tee with the challenging of gauging the accurate distance to a green 20 yards above your feet. The 11th — a 463-yard, downhill behemoth of a par-4 — is the one that will stick in your craw for hours after your round. With O.B. right and a line of trees to the left, it’s tight off the tee, before opening up on your second shot. Of course, unless you’ve completely hammered that drive, your second shot is likely a long iron or even a fairway wood into the green … in other words, swing and hope.
That variety is what makes it one of our favorite home bases between destination rounds, forcing us to practice multiple types of shots while not breaking our meager golf bank (rates start as low as $22 in peak season, and never go above $40). Heck, honing your game at Jefferson Park might even make you some money in the long run — after all, ‘ol Boom-Boom has done pretty well for himself.