Scenics of Gamble Sands in Washington.

Great golf road trips: Pacific Northwest

From links to high desert, no summer golf destination has such an array of ecological diversity to enjoy.
From links to high desert, no summer golf destination has such an array of ecological diversity to enjoy.

Summertime in the Pacific Northwest is epic by any measure. The dreary clouds that consume the coast go away and seem to stay away until the fall.

And what a fantastic place to cruise the open road. It goes without saying that residents of cities like Portland, Seattle and Vancouver are in no hurry to travel too far from home in the summer months. (February? Maybe another story).

Ecologically speaking, there is an astonishing array of climates to enjoy for golf. You're just a short drive from pure links golf along the Pacific coastline. Want warmer, more reliable temps? Head to the high desert. Seeking more trees and elevation change? The mountains are just around the corner. And don't forget traditional parkland golf in secluded forests. With little humidity and mild temps, it's a joy to walk the fairways wherever you choose.

We've rounded up a collection of the best road trips in the region. These trips vary in length, price and ambitiousness. From value golf to Top 100 picks, if you're a Seattle or Portland-area golfer or in a smaller town, there's no need to venture very far for a fabulous golf trip.

High-energy outdoors in Central Oregon

3 hours from Portland, 5 hours from Seattle

Fairways on the Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn

For those golfers who want one of the most reliable summer climates in the states, one that lends itself to a highly active community, point your compass inland to Central Oregon and the high desert. There are over two dozen reputable area courses, led by an A-List of Pronghorn, Sunriver Resort, Tetherow and Brasada Canyons. Dozens more under the radar like Widgi Creek and Aspen Lakes appease the bargain-seeker.

Save time for activities off the course. Bend is a seriously active haunt for both golf and an array of outdoor activities from cycling to white water rafting. No wonder with all these calories burned outdoors during the day it's become a microbrewery hotbed, too.

FROM $357 (USD)
BEND, OR | Enjoy 1 nights’ accommodation at the Huntington Lodge and 2 rounds of golf on the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course.

Extreme Mountain Golf in Whistler

90 minutes from Vancouver, 4 hours from Seattle

The drive up British Columbia's inland passage is sublime. On the way, you'll pass Furry Creek (of Happy Gilmore fame) and wonder how a course could fit on such stark terrain. Soon enough you'll arrive in the Winter Olympics town of Whistler, which has become just as popular in the summer months thanks to a robust downhill mountain biking community and a tidy collection of golf courses. Mountain views and abundant wildlife are the hallmarks of a summertime visit to Whistler. WATCH: Golf Advisor Round Trip Whisler

FROM $357 (USD)
WHISTLER, CAN | Enjoy 4 nights' accommodations at Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa and 4 rounds of golf at Big Sky GC, The Fairmont Chateau Whistler GC, Nicklaus North GC & Whistler GC.

The pure links experience at Bandon Dunes

4 hours from Portland

The 151-yard 16th hole at Sheep Ranch plays to the cliff's edge.

The drive from Portland down to southern Oregon features beautiful mature forests and exposed coastline. Eventually you'll arrive at Bandon Dunes and not need the car again until you leave at this all-encompassing resort along the coast. 2020 is a huge year with the reopening of the new, cliffside Sheep Ranch. It's the 5th 18-hole option at this epic links golf, walker-centric getaway. There is also a Punchbowl putting course and 13-hole Bandon Preserve for those who crave more than 18 holes per day. Bandon delivers pure links golf to the west coast and dazzles with towering dunes and scintillating holes cut through them.

Gorge-ing on great value golf on the Columbia River

1 hour from Portland

Dazzling Columbia River Gorge views await at the great value course, Elk Ridge at Carson Hot Springs.

Here's a golf itinerary that will satisfy those who love the open road and great bargains. The Columbia River Gorge, found just east of Portland, features surreal scenery like the famous Multunomah Falls. The Resort at the Mountain, just inland, is a serene escape with a classic course efficiently refreshed by John Harbottle III. Elk Ridge at Carson Hot Springs boasts sky-high views and reliably dry conditions on its lofty perch. Skamania Lodge is another slam-dunk pick, and other value picks like Indian Creek Golf Course in Hood River round out a trip that will make your money stretch as far as the views.

Carson, Washington
This is by far the best course in the Gorge!! The layout and design are top-notch as is the condition. The greens are fast, often big and lots of breaks. The views here are beautiful and it's really a course not to miss if you're going to be playing in the Gorge!!
- Westboy
(November 11th, 2019)

The new Kidd: Gamble Sands

4 hours from Seattle, 6 hours from Portland

Gamble Sands is one of the interior Northwest's best destination courses, and it's become a go-to venue for U.S. Open qualifying.

Not long after the U.S. Open was held at the mysterious new Chambers Bay, Gamble Sands was the latest Washington state offering to come online and lure seekers of firm, fast and wide golf. In an eastern Washington outpost, David McLay Kidd laid out what golfers from all over call a fun and scenic loop. This fall, a new par-3 course, Quicksand, will open for preview play.

FROM $237 (USD)
BREWSTER, WA | Enjoy 2 nights' accommodations at The Inn at Gamble Sands and 2 rounds of golf at Gamble Sands - Sands Course.

Great value east of Seattle on the Kitsap Peninsula

1 hour from Seattle

A par 5 tumbles downhill to the sixth green of the Olympic Course at Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton, Wash.

Crossing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (or a ferry ride from downtown Seattle) takes city slickers to the Kitsap Peninsula, an undiscovered golf destination surrounded by Mother Nature. There are beautiful daily fee courses, Trophy Lake, White Horse and McCormick Woods; a spectacular municipal facility, the 36-hole Gold Mountain; and even a resort, Port Ludlow, on the Puget Sound. Golf Advisor reviews have honored Port Ludlow’s Robert Muir Graves design among the top 10 courses in the state every year since 2016. Gold Mountain’s Olympic Course hosted the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur won by Jordan Spieth.

If you take the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, you're just minutes from Chambers Bay, home to another Spieth triumph and a natural climax for the trip on the drive home.

The lake life in Coeur d'Alene

1 hour from Spokane, 5 hours from Seattle

Head just across the eastern Washington border into Idaho and you'll discover a beautiful golf and lake destination. It's anchored by the Coeur d'Alene Resort on the shores of the lake, but venture outside the town and you'll discover Circling Raven, an expansive and homes-free layout cut across 620 acres of tribal land.

Prefer to enjoy golf like a local? There's a strong community golf vibe and great value throughout the Spokane muni system.

Rugged, remote and reversible at Silvies Valley Ranch

5.5 hours from Portland, 3.5 hours from Boise

The fairways of the new reversible golf course at Silvies Valley Ranch were cut from sagebrush and pines in central Oregon.

Just when you think you’re lost, golfers come upon Silvies Valley Ranch, one of the most remote and unique golf destinations in America. Trade the car for a super-charged golf cart that guests use to explore the 14,000-acre ranch and its courses, the reversible Craddock and Hankins routings by Dan Hixson. The nine-hole, par-3 Chief Egan and seven-hole McVeigh’s Gauntlet can be walked with a goat as your caddie. No kidding! (pun intended) Visitors stay in luxury cabins with a spa available. The nightly feasts of prime ranch-grown beef and locally grown vegetables are served community style, bringing everyone at the ranch together for a memorable experience.

FROM $757 (USD)
SENECA, OR | Enjoy 2 nights' accommodations at Silvies Valley Ranch, unlimited golf with cart and range balls, meals, and more.

Suncadia: The Ultimate Seattle 'staycation'

1.5 hours from Seattle

Golfers on the elevated tees of the 10th hole on the Prospector course at Suncadia Resort can see for miles.

Suncadia, a 6,400-acre master-planned resort community 85 miles southeast of Seattle, blends the beauty of the Wenatchee Washington National Forest with the luxurious trappings of a resort home to three courses, a winery, a 254-room lodge, a spa, multiple restaurants and an indoor pool with a water slide. It’s the ultimate staycation for Seattle residents. Located just across the Cascade Range, Suncadia’s forecast tends to be sunnier than the coastal side of the mountains. Although Tom Doak’s Tumble Creek is private, golfers will enjoy the natural surroundings of Arnold Palmer’s Prospector Course and Rope Rider by Jim Hardy/Peter Jacobsen.

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Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. Prior to the launch of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGA.
Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 1,000 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfadvisor and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Bandon is a gimmie. I haven't played the Sheep Ranch but of the other four Pacific Dunes is my favorite. The greens at Chambers Bay have been redone after the USGA fiasco and is a great links. Salish Cliffs is a very underrated, undiscovered gem. The 36 hole municipal complex at Gold Mountain on the peninsula is top notch. It is not Bethpage and does not have the ocean views of Torrey Pines but the courses have their own beauty and the Olympic Course is a match for Torrey South.

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