The Golf Club at Newcastle

Published on Monday, November 26th, 2012 in Course of the Week

The risk-reward 17th hole at Newcastle’s Coal Creek course.

Newcastle, Wash. | 425-793-4653

No place — and we mean no place — in the Puget Sound region can match Newcastle’s Wooly Toad Bar. Located directly above Newcastle’s famed Calcutta Grill (itself a great dinner spot whether golfing or not), it might as well be in a mansion across the pond, with huge leather chairs, dark mahogany paneling and games galore — billiards, yes, but also backgammon, chess and other highbrow classics. You almost expect a seafaring explorer to burst through the doors with tales of the great wild beyond the seas

While the duffers bursting through the doors of the Wooly Toad may not be explorers in the old English sense, any Northwest winter golfer will know that a December round in the Puget Sound region rarely comes without its own tales of grit, endurance and survival.

A favorite of golfers from around the region in the summer months, when the fairways of its famed Coal Creek and China Creek courses are packed with Microsoft executives, Oki Golf members and others looking to appreciate the best golf view in the Northwest, The Golf Club at Newcastle is a savvy choice of winter golfers as well. Rates that peak in triple digits in the summertime drop to as low as $55 in the winter — $35 if you hvea an Oki Golf card, and think you can squeeze in 18 on China Creek after 2 p.m.

Both courses are among the state’s most celebrated. Clearly, Fred Couples was showing a little hometown pride when he teamed with Bob Cupp to dream up Coal Creek, which showcases Puget Sound like no other course in the region.

Start off with the best view in the city – a nearly complete 360-degree panorama including downtown Seattle, Lake Washington, Puget Sound, plus the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges – and mix in elevation changes, forced carries, plenty of water and memorable hole after memorable hole, and it’s no wonder that our region’s business executives bring guests to Newcastle when they are trying to close a deal.

And that’s just half the tale. Similar features abound at China Creek, the club’s other championship track. With a few more “inland” (read: tree-lined) holes, fewer forced carries and about 400 yards less in length, the par-71 China is a slightly less challenging companion to its famous sibling, though with plenty of views of its own. In this writer’s opinion, it’s not so dissimilar to Coal Creek as to merit the 30-percent lower greens fee … but we’ll certainly take it.

While China punches in between $55-$80 in the winter months (not counting the $35 twilight rate for Oki Card holders, or lower rates for juniors), Coal drops as low as $85 for afternoon golf, seven days a week. All rates include carts, plus Newcastle’s unparalleled customer service … and 18th holes that finish within steps of the Wooly Toad.

Now, certainly, a post-round brandy sipped in the comfort of a leather chair in an old-English-style drawing room isn’t reason alone to choose a golf course … but in that moment when you’re holding your glass, toasting another round well done, you might well consider the 19th hole an underrated part of any 18-hole experience.

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