By Douglas Scott
From Elma to Cosmopolis and out to Ocean Shores, golfing in Grays Harbor County offers challenging courses. Some of the challenge comes from the wind, rain and generally wet ground of the region, but the majority of the challenges comes from the history of the courses, the layout of the holes and the fact that it is the sport of golf.
For 83 years, golf has existed in Grays Harbor, and while the courses may have changed, the sport is just as difficult to master now as it was when it was invented in Scotland. While not as famous as the Scottish courses, the golf courses in Grays Harbor are the perfect place to learn to golf, refine your skills or finally master the game. From quadruple bogeys to the rare hole in one, the following courses are your best bets for rounds of public golf in the region.
Ocean Shores Golf Course
Many don’t consider playing golf in Ocean Shores, thanks to an average of 70 inches of rain annually and a wind that seems to always blow across the beach front city, but this coastal town is home to a fantastic golf course that is challenging for all lovers of the links. With a par 71 and a distance of 6,252 yards, the Ocean Shores Golf Course, which weaves its way near the ocean and along man-made canals, is the perfect course for golfers of all ages and abilities.
The front nine holes are leisurely and truly a perfect representation of the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Hitting between tall fir trees, the challenging front nine gets you out of the wind and into a tough set of holes. With accurate shots, the front nine holes of the Ocean Shores Golf Course can lull you into a false sense of ease, but one misplaced shot to the edge of the fairway and the trees lining the course become obstacles to hit around.
The back nine of the Ocean Shores golf course couldn’t be more different than the front. With no trees lining the course, the back nine more closely resemble the Scottish Highlands than any other course in the region. Dunes, heavy ocean air and strong winds constantly battle your ball after every hit. Once out of the open fairway, the elevated greens on the back nine are fast and are considered some of the best in the state.
Capped off with a par three over the canal, which deceives even the best golfers at times, a round of golf at Ocean Shores is not only a challenge for everyone but also a great place to learn how to play. With a driving range (irons only) and putting greens for practice, taking a trip to this course makes for a great day.
Cost: $40 for 18 holes, kids 18 and under $18 for 18 holes, discounts available
More information: http://www.oceanshoresgolf.com/
Highland Golf Course
Built in 1931, the Highland Golf Course in Cosmopolis is the oldest golf course in Grays Harbor County. What started out as a nine-hole course became 18 holes with the addition of the new front nine, built in the early 1990s.
This straightforward golf course is perfect for those looking to refine their skills on the links or learn to play. To warm up before your round, a driving range and putting green await you. With a par of just 70 and a total distance of 6,112 yards, the course’s 18 holes run parallel to each other, separated by enough trees to keep the majority of your shanked shots on your own hole. The front nine, which is the new addition, is designed to be more modern. With larger, more undulated greens and two par 5 holes, as well as three par 3 holes, the 35 par front nine has fairways are on the narrow side and very few obstacles. Don’t construe the simple layout as easy though, as the often over-saturated and sometimes under-saturated fairways can get those bogeys adding up.
The back nine of the Highland Golf Course is the older, more historical side. Built in 1931, before the modern style of courses and mainstream appeal of golf, the back nine has smaller, flatter greens. Combined with the narrow fairways and trees, the back nine can prove to be challenging for linksmen more used to the newer style of courses. With just one par 5 and 2 par 3s, the final nine holes of Highland can once again be bogey-inducing.
The most iconic hole on the course is the 16th hole, which used to be the 9th hole when the course was only 9 holes. Teeing off over a 100-yard canyon, the fairway leads you toward not only the clubhouse but also the 10,000 square foot Cooney Mansion. Built in 1908, this mansion has seen its fair share of golf.
Around 25,000 rounds of golf are played at the Highland Golf Course, keeping it busy enough to require an early morning, weekend tee time. With just two bunkers over 18 holes and no permanent water hazards, golfing here is a perfect way to spend a day in Cosmopolis.
Cost: $16 for 9 holes, $28 for 18 holes. Discounts Available
More information: Call (360)612-3432 or follow their Facebook page
Oaksridge Golf Course
Oaksridge Golf Course in Elma has been a classic golf destination for golfers from around Grays Harbor and the South Sound since it was built in 1951. While considered an easy course by experts, this 5,680 yard, par 70 course presents unique challenges not found on the other links of Grays Harbor. With narrow fairways, tall trees and pond, Oaksridge doesn’t let golfers of average skill open up their clubs for distance. Instead, this course is about accuracy and consistency, two of the harder aspects of the game of golf.
The area around Oaksridge has been prone to flooding in the late fall and early spring, but recent changes to the area have made the course dependable golfing fun year round. A covered driving range is available for those rain days when you need to hit a bucket of balls, making this a perfect place for weather of all seasons.
The course is easy to follow, but difficult to master. With narrow fairways, it is common to see golfers of all ages and abilities hit their ball two or three fairways away from their intended target with a serious hook or slice. With greens of average speed, you can make up for mistakes on your drive and second shot if you have a good handle on your short game.
While most holes are pretty non-descript, the third hole is considered by many to be the signature hole of the course. Located next to a small pond that seems to attract your ball, the short par 4 is home to some great and bad golfing memories. On a sunny day, the course at Oaksridge also offers impressive view of the cooling towers at Satsop Business Park, which seem more massive while walking the holes. For a great, challenging round of golf, hitting links at Oaksridge is a great time to be had, year round.
Costs: $14 for $9 Holes, $25 for 18 with Discounts Available
Twilight Rates: $10 for 9 holes and $15 for 18 holes
More information: Call (360) 482-3511 or follow their Facebook page