Roughly 29 million golfers live in the United States, according to the most recent numbers from the National Golf Foundation.
And popularity continues to grow year after year — particularly in Washington state, which boasts 319 courses.
With that in mind, I decided to take my amateur skills to the links and provide a firsthand look at some of the best the region has to offer. First on the list: The Golf Club at Newcastle.
My self-taught golf experience dates back a decade, but I’ve spent a large chunk of time on surfaces that might pass for cow pastures more than golf courses. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played some nice courses in my stomping grounds in the northern part of the state, including Eaglemont and Avalon, but I knew I was in for a treat last week upon arriving at the 350-acre, Oki-owned Newcastle.
The 44,000-square-foot clubhouse and panoramic views of the Puget Sound are remarkable, but the first thing I noticed was the customer service.
Greeted in front of the clubhouse, Bellevue Reporter sports writer Joel Willits and I had our bags promptly taken from our vehicles and loaded into carts. We were met by smiling staff members who were quick to direct us to the driving range where complimentary range balls were provided.
After a much-needed warm-up session, we were ready to begin our round on Coal Creek, Newcastle’s signature course. The par 72 course features five par 3s, eight par 4s and five par 5s. China Creek is Newcastle’s other 18-hole, par 71 course. Both were designed by renowned architect Robert E. Cupp in consultation with Masters Champion and Seattle native Fred Couples.
Upon arriving at hole No. 1, we were greeted by a starter who explained course rules and offered us complimentary engraved bag tags — yet another perk.
The course itself was in simply incredible shape. The fairways, which — surprisingly — I drove on multiple occasions, were all in ideal condition (if only my irons and putter were working). With a tall rough and some native grass you’re not allowed to hit from — if you can find your ball — it’s ideal to stay in play. There are some challenging holes, including No. 1, which is the longest on the course at 545 yards from the regular tee box. There are blind downhill and uphill shots on several holes, including No. 11 and No. 13. The 17th hole also provides a blind uphill shot, but is unique in several ways. It provides an unbelievable view of the Olympic Mountains, Seattle, Bellevue, Lake Washington and everything in between. A rock waterfall protects the green, making the approach shot a real challenge.
While our golf scores (both over 100) might not have been the best, the overall experience was great. I was particularly pleased to beat Joel by six strokes (Sorry man, I had to rub it in because for some strange reason, I didn’t see it in your column).
Other unique attributes at the Golf Club at Newcastle include complimentary apples on the first and 10th tee boxes, a Scottish bagpiper playing at sunset every day and an 18-hole putting course.
The price tag might initially seem a bit steep in the summer ($160/round for Coal Creek, $110/round for China Creek). Put into consideration the unique scenery, customer service and well-maincured course, however, and it’s a combination unlike many others you’ll get in the Northwest. If you can afford it, give it a shot.
For more information log on to www.newcastlegolf.com or call 425-793-5566.
This is the first part of a series of reviews on local golf courses. Kevin Endejan and Joel Willits will focus on TPC at Snoqualmie in the Aug. 15 edition of the Reporter.