Why I love West Seattle Golf Course
By Colin Gants – PGA Head Professional
February 26th, 2010
I have just started my 20th year as a Golf Professional at West Seattle GC and loved it ever since. But why do I love it? Length, variety of holes, the challenge and the views all combine to make West Seattle a great course.
West Seattle is unique in that most ‘traditional style’ courses have had a difficult time keeping up with the modernization of golf in that they are too short to meet the minimum yardage requirements that today’s golfers seem to find synonymous with ‘great’. Many urban courses are built in areas confined by property boundaries, limiting the upgrades required to keep up with technological advance of today’s equipment.
Unfortunately and perhaps unfairly, you just don’t see any courses that are labeled as ‘great’ if they are only 6200 yards. West Seattle is nearly 6800 yards which seems to get it past the first checkpoint of ‘greatness’.
Second, a course needs to have a variety of holes to capture the attention or memory of a golfer. Hitting a bunch of drivers and wedges simply doesn’t get the juices flowing. Conversely, having a course that is 7500 yards and beats you to death requiring second shot fairway woods and long irons is no fun either. West Seattle has a great variety of holes:
West Seattle has four holes that dogleg to the right, four holes that dogleg to the left and six holes go straight away. There are uphill holes, downhill holes, side hill holes and flat holes. There are some short interesting par 4’s (2, 7, 17); there are some long demanding par 4’s (5, 8, 14) and everything in between.
Two of my favorite holes are #2 and #16. Hole #2 can be played as a drivable par four which provides options to a player as to whether they attempt to drive the green or take the close encroaching water hazard out of play and lay up. I love the threat of the hazard playing down the entire length of the hole including about five feet right of the green.
In my opinion, hole #16 is the longest and hardest 350 yard hole in the world. This is a perfect example of a short hole playing extremely difficult in relationship to par. It seems like you can hit a good drive and still have 150 yards off an uphill lie to an elevated green. Often times after a good drive I am preparing to hit my second shot and can’t believe I am hitting a driver and 5 or 6 iron to a 350 yard hole. And after two shots, the hole is just beginning. If you miss the green anywhere you have one of the most difficult shots to try and get up and down. If you hit the green….well good luck because your only thought is ‘what do I have to do to two putt’.
Even better than the par 4’s is the fact that I think West Seattle has very nice par 3’s. But when you put them all together as a set they are the best ‘group’ of par 3’s in the state. Very few courses give four par 3’s that require four different clubs.
Hole #3 – 115 yards – Modern architects do not design short pitch par 3’s anymore. I think every course should have one.
Hole #6 – 180 yards
Hole #11 – 160 yards
Hole #13 – 195 yards
Anytime I set up a tournament I am very cognizant of the fact I want to have the player swing four different clubs into the par 3’s.
Finally, the par 5’s at WS offer a nice variety from reachable (484yard) tight holes (#12) to unreachable 570 yard slight doglegging par 5’s (#9).
Lastly, the greens are always interesting and challenging. We have 7 of them that are difficult (not in that they have been tricked up or bulldozed with humps) but they have been laid naturally on the terrain that you find them. The greens provide great interest and challenge without being unfair.
West Seattle Golf Course does not favor one style of player. Golfers do not get an advantage by being a long hitter or short hitter nor does it favor a golfer who fades the ball or draws the ball. It is very well balanced in that it is equally as difficult off the tee as it is to hit your approach shots as it is to putt the greens. Many courses, I feel, are poorly balanced in that they are fairly straight forward from tee to green but the putting surfaces are over-the-top difficult. Other courses are extremely demanding and tight off the tee but have large un-descriptive greens. And others have fairways that are 100 yards wide but their green complexes are tight and heavily bunkered. If you are really trying to identify a great golfer and expose any weaknesses, West Seattle challenges all aspects of a golfer’s game without putting an unbalanced requirement on any one part of the game.
The best of all is that on any given day when you finish your round at West Seattle you can look into your bag and see that you have hit all 14 of your clubs in your bag. Very few courses yield this quality.
Oh, did I forget to mention the views? West Seattle has the most scenic views on any course in the area. It is an absolutely gorgeous setting meandering through a tranquil park-like setting overlooking our city’s beautiful skyline! What a way to spend the day.
With all of that said, one of my biggest pet peeves is when golfers say, “West Seattle is a great course for a muni.” I am in hopes that you will all agree that the modifier ‘for a muni’ needs to be dropped and West Seattle GC should be simply recognized as a ‘great course’.
I love this place!
PGA Head Professional
West Seattle Golf Course