Date Played: June 11th, 2013
One of the wonderful things about golf is that there are so many variations of it. From Par-3 courses, to match play to Par-6’s, putting courses and everything in between, the variety is endless in how you can practice and play. Over the years, I’ve gotten off the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry and driven past the Island Greens sign on Hwy 525 about 200 times. I knew it was there, I always kind of meant to go, but I just never did. I had a chance at a long lunch break today nearby and decided to see if I could pack in some practice on what I thought would be a shabby little 3 par in the sticks of Whidbey Island.
The course itself is on the South end of the island, it’s about 5 minutes off the main highway and about 10 from the ferry dock. When you pull in the gravel driveway, it’s really a little deflating. This place is no-frills…and I mean like none. There is just a wooden structure that lists prices and has a spot for envelopes that you fill with cash and put in an old kettle on the honor system. Pull cart rentals and club rentals are $2.00 each, and the course is $9 for 9 holes and $14 for 18 holes. I stuffed in my cash and took my handful of clubs on what turned out to be one of my favorite ever golf experiences.
When someone describes a 9 hole, par-3 course on a remote part of an island only reachable from the city by boat or 2 hour drive, it’s not going to inspire visions of tightly mowed greens and clever golf holes. But those are exactly what you get here; it’s a classically designed layout that is walkable for days and about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. It starts off with a 140 yarder that immediately sets the tone for your round. Huge cedars surround you as you must make an accurate shot to a slightly downhill and left offset green about the size of a quarter. The second hole isn’t good at only 80 yards, but it’s uphill and has a tough sloping green. Hole 5 is a spectacular 200 yarder that is uphill to a tiny green with apple trees right and a tough back to front slope. It’s one of the best golf holes I’ve played in Washington. The fun continues on the 6th as you tee off from a deck built on a boat through a huge corridor of trees onto another tough green.
Bottom Line: This place is awesome and I’m so sad I didn’t come here sooner. There is only one poorly conditioned area and it’s the 8th green, which sits in the shade all day and has some clover growing on it. The rest of the greens are healthy with just some minor scarring. The back tees mostly play from mats which is sort of a turn off, but you can play from the whites, or scoot over and stick a tee in the dirt. There is a nice driving range with $.50 balls and I finished playing 2 balls in well short of an hour. Island Greens is the best par 3 course I’ve ever played; better than Jackson, Jefferson, and Willows Run. If you ever find yourself on Whidbey, do yourself a favor and go one boat early to come swing by. Final Score: 80/100
Design – 21/25 (Fun, tough, walkable and classic)
Test of Golf – 21/25 (The 2nd was the only bad hole, the rest are tight and require accuracy into small greens)
Value – 17/20 ($14 for 18 holes and $.50 range balls? Yes, please.)
Condition – 7/10 (One bad green and mats, but everything else is solid)
Amenities – 4/10 (It is par 3, but they have a cheap range. The practice green isn’t very good)
Experience – 10/10 (So. Much. Fun. It’s just a great time, no other way to explain it)