Best Public Golf Course

If all the purple signage and landscaping doesn't tip you off, perhaps the golf carts emblazoned with Pac-10 team logos and colors will: Washington National Golf Club is the home course for the UW men's and women's golf teams. Yes, it's a bit of a hike from town, but it's a gem that's well worth the drive. Sculpted by John Fought, the course is kept in immaculate shape from tees to greens. Even the waste bunkers have a stark beauty to them, reminiscent of bonsai gardens. The staff is courteous and responsive, and food offerings in the cozy clubhouse are reasonably priced—especially the occasional $2 beer specials. With big greens and wide fairways, Washington National's a deceptively challenging course that rewards creative, aggressive shot-making but will penalize lapses in judgment or sloppiness. Yardage ranges from 5,117 yards (from the red "freshman" tees) to 6,782 yards (from the black "senior" tees; playing from the purple "Husky" tees lengthens the course to 7,300 yards but requires special permission) and accommodates a wide range of handicaps. Especially enjoyable is the 15th hole, which funnels into a green protected by a creek in front and a rock garden and waterfall behind, requiring a precise approach. Course general manager Rolly Leonard's favorite is the 17th, an undulating par 5 that crosses water hazards a couple of times and poses interesting questions of risk versus reward. Thankfully, all the carts come equipped with GPS, which gives the distances to the greens, pins, and hazards, and also offers advice on how to play each hole.—Huan Hsu 14330 S.E. Husky Way, Auburn, 253-333-5000, www.washingtonnationalgolfclub.com.

 
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