“Golfer” by Dan Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.com
The snow is still solidly packed in the mountains, but soon melting ice and puddles will give way to blades of grass peaking out from beneath their winter cover. Spring is to Alaskans what April is to golf lovers – a promise of wonderful things to come.
At the upcoming Masters, Augusta National will excite both professional and amateur golfers with its pristine green grass and colorful azaleas. In the Great North it’s mountains and glacial streams that set the scene for our beautiful courses. And, with nine Westmark Hotels open this summer season around Alaska and the Yukon, we’ve got the perfect place to rest your head before and after you hit the links.
This may come as a surprise to some, but Alaska is truly a paradise for golfers. The golf season generally runs from May through September, which coincides with the months of year when the sun is high in the sky for most of the day. This allows tee times to range from 5 a.m. until well past midnight during peak season.
It’s not uncommon to halt a game to let an errant moose walk by or even a bear on a more rare but not unheard of occasion. But, that is no excuse for a mulligan when you’re in the wild north! In fact, Northstar Golf Club in Fairbanks, the northernmost golf course in the United States, has a rule stating, “When a raven or fox steals a golf ball, a replacement may be dropped without penalty at the scene of the crime.” Just a short drive from the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel & Conference Center, North Star Golf Club property is underlain by permafrost, contributing to an ever-changing pattern of dips, swales, and mounds for a truly unique and challenging golfing experience.
Anchorage, the biggest city in the state, has more than a number of major golf courses, all beautiful and distinctive in their own way. Spend a few nights at the Westmark Anchorage Hotel in the heart of downtown, and take a tour of the city with your clubs in hand.
With 6,600 yards of rolling, tree-lined fairways, golfers at the Anchorage Golf Course will enjoy an urban view of the Anchorage Bowl with the spectacular backdrop of Cook Inlet and, on a clear day, North America’s tallest peak, Denali. Both Eagleglen and Moose Run golf courses are located on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Moose Run is nestled at the base of the Chugach Mountains. Less experienced golfers will find the original Hill Course ideal for bettering their skills; and the Creek Course, which features a 640-yard par five, is the longest and most challenging golf course in the state. It was also recognized by Travel + Leisure as one of the top 10 military courses. Eagleglen also has its share of challenging par fives. Russian Jack Golf Course is owned by the Municipality of Anchorage and features nine well-groomed holes. Even though it’s located smack in the middle of town, wooded fairways and trails lend a feeling of being surrounded by nature.
Any golfers visiting Juneau would be remiss to pass on the opportunity to play a game at the Mendenhall Golf Course, a nine-hole par 3 with practice range located about 10 miles from downtown Juneau. Once there, it is clear to see the appeal in this location, which offers stunning views of the Mendenhall Glacier and surrounding mountains as well as a plethora of summer wildflowers and spawning salmon in the streams that meander through the property.
The capital of the Yukon Territory, Whitehorse is often part of many travel itineraries due to its close proximity to Alaska’s eastern borders and extremely attractive landscape and abundant recreational opportunities. Plan a little golf getaway and swing your clubs at the Mountain View Golf Course, the Yukon’s only full-service golf facility. Both experienced and novice golfers will enjoy the many amenities this 18-hole, championship-designed golf course offers.
So as you watch Tiger, Phil and the rest of the field fight it out for the coveted green jacket, don’t fret if you can’t get a tee time at Augusta National. Just grab your golf bag, and head north to Alaska!