(Disclaimer: Written by someone who gave up golfing decades ago, but who appreciates a good course and understands the attraction.)
Welcome to Whidbey Island and its golf courses. It is a natural fit. The game was invented in the glacially carved land of Scotland. Whidbey certainly was shaped by glaciers. Water traps, a natural considering the rains and the wetlands. Sand traps, a natural thanks to the various beaches, as well as the remains of those glacial deposits. And greens, fairways that are truly fair, and roughs that can be quite rough, all at home on the island. There are a few courses, but every course is unique, especially on Whidbey.
Start at the north end, where the US Navy has Gallery Golf Course where the public is welcome and;
“A challenging 18-hole course layout with tree lined fairways, rolling hills and stunning views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island.”
A full course with views? That’s appealing, and you can see Canada from there.
There’s another course in Oak Harbor, Whidbey Golf Club, located on the south end of town, near Swantown. This one is a bit different because it is; “…a semi private, family oriented club…” as well as “accommodates all levels of play from champion to super senior…” And, it is a club; which means there’s more than just the course; e.g. events, dining, etc.
That makes two full-sized courses bracketing Oak Harbor, each a short drive from the other. (Pardon the pun – drive.)
There are two more 18-hole courses, but they’re farther south. Both are situated within neighborhoods, a handy feature for golfers who literally want a course in their backyard.
Holmes Harbor Golf Course sits along the west side of Holmes Harbor. Duh. The holes wind through the neighborhood, from the crest to nearer the water where the carts are stored. And, if your game isn’t going well, enjoy the views.
Farther down-island is the full-service Useless Bay Golf and Country Club, which has the course, of course; but also has neighborhood amenities like a pool and tennis courts, as well as meeting rooms. A name like “Useless Bay” can sound odd, but take a look at it at low tide and the meaning is obvious. Fortunately, the course and the club are far from Useless.
Bracketing the entire island, however, are two much more casual courses, a couple of Par 3s.
Lam’s Golf Links are just south of Deception Pass. It has 9 holes and is a Par 3 course, so it; “…is excellent for beginners and those seeking to improve their short-game…” There’s also an 18-hole option, a mini-golf course which emphasizes fun; because sometimes getting outside and relaxing is more important than the perfect drive or practicing getting a ball out of a trap.
At the other end of the island, close to the ferry like Lam’s is close to the bridge, is, or was, Island Greens, another 9-hole Par 3 where it is, or was, easy to go casual. Dogs are, were, allowed. Even paying was done on the honor system. The site even has, had, the only public driving range on the island, according to their site. Why the “is, was” and “has, had” and “present tense, future tense”? Sadly for golfers, the course was recently sold. It is, was, hard to run a course during any economy. Pandemics certainly don’t make that easier. It was nice having you, here, Island Greens.
The good news for golfers is that Whidbey’s temperate climate makes the golf season just a bit longer, weather permitting. Check with the course officials and the local golfers to find which course meets your interests. From being near the base, or the bridge, or the ferry, or in your own backyard, there are more choices than most folks realize. Enjoy!