Golf Channel's Summer Swing is chronicling golf in all 50 states through Labor Day.
Alaska is a breathtaking summer vacation destination, even if it's not top of mind for golf travelers.
It may be the biggest state in America but it has the fewest golf courses. Perhaps the single greatest selling point of a golf trip to Alaska is the sun: There isn't another golf destination with as much of it in the summer months. Golf junkies who want to play - quite literally - around the clock should point their compass north.
A handful of the best courses in the state are the result of courses built at military installations. While Elmendorf Air Force Base's golf course closed in 2014, others remain. Fort Rainwright's Chena Bend Golf Course is considered among the state's best. Not far from Anchorage is 36-hole Moose Run, located at Fort Richardson. The first course opened in the 1940s, while the new Creek Course opened in 2000.
Near Fairbanks, meanhwile, is America's northernmost golf course, North Star Golf Club. It's also home to a fitting local rule: "When a raven or fox steals a golf ball, a replacement may be dropped without penalty at the scene of the crime."
So who, exactly, takes a golf trip to Alaska?
We learned that one of our Local Golf Advisors has hardly been a "local" at all recently. Soren Jacobsen (username 'SorenJ') recently undertook an ambitious journey of playing golf in all 50 states. Alaska was state No. 49 before he and his wife departed for warmer climes in Hawaii for the final stop. Their visit to Alaska was brief - 18 hours - but they managed rounds at Anchorage Golf Course and Moose Run's Creek Course.
"When we landed we drove straight to Anchorage Golf Club and hit the first tee box at about 10 p.m., finishing well after 1 a.m.," recalls Jacobsen. "Civil twilight is absolutely a thing, we watched the sunset as we took the turn and still finished the round."
Video: Morning Drive on golf in Alaska
The short season and cold winters are certainly going to have an impact on golf course operations and conditions. The ground may not thaw all summer. One course near the port town of Sitka, Sea Mountain Golf Course, has artificial turf greens. Jacobsen said his early-season round's spotty turf was just part of the wild side of golf up north.
"There was something appropriate about the slightly rougher exterior we saw," said Jacobsen. "Set against the backdrop of the Alaskan wilderness, there were some less-than-perfect lies on the fairways, but it just felt right."
Jacobsen's wilderness golf experience included being "escorted off" the course by a mama moose at Anchorage GC and being warned by a staff at Moose Run of a Black Bear in the area, along with the dubious advice from a local that "if the bear’s hair stands up and his ears go back, "it’s a sign he wants to be petted."
Anchorage Golf Course (photo by Soren B. Jacobsen)
The wilderness may be untamed and the temps often chilly, but that doesn't mean you won't receive a warm welcome when you're a visitor in Alaska.
"I can’t say enough about the hospitality we experienced in Anchorage," said Jacobsen. "At both courses we were welcomed and had really enjoyable interactions both by the clubhouse and out on the course. This also extends to our lodging where, after hearing us mention how tricky it can be to get a newspaper or postcards while flying around the country, both were waiting for us as we checked out in the morning. In short, expect to be treated well in Anchorage, on the course or not."
Have you played golf in Alaska? What's it like? Let us know in the comments below!