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Published: Sunday, July 10, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

How local golf courses rate for older golfers

  • Hole No. 17 at Walter E. Hall Golf Course in Everett.

    Sarah Weiser / The Herald

    Hole No. 17 at Walter E. Hall Golf Course in Everett.

  • Golfers play on the southern part of the Nile Country Club in Mountlake Terrace. The course is a good choice for older golfers.

    JENNIFER BUCHANAN / The Herald

    Golfers play on the southern part of the Nile Country Club in Mountlake Terrace. The course is a good choice for older golfers.

Getting older sometimes means giving up the games of our youth. Football and baseball players tend to quit after high school or college, and many people have already retired from other sports by the time they settle into middle age.
But golf is a game for a lifetime. For the player who can still swing a club and walk moderate distances, there is never a good time -- or, for that matter, a good reason -- to give up golf.
And here in Snohomish County, we are fortunate to have several golf courses well-suited for those 50 and older.
What, then, makes a good golf course for older players?
"The No. 1 thing is walkability," said Dave Castleberry, head pro at Marysville's Cedarcrest Golf Course. "That's walkability both in terms of length (on the fairways) and in the distance from the green to the next tee, and then in the amount of hills and the steepness of the course.
"A lot of our senior players enjoy the walk. It's good exercise and their doctors have told them to get out and get some exercise, and golf is a great way to do that.
"So they want to do that, but they don't necessarily want an 8-mile walk. They want a 4- or 5-mile walk."
Cedarcrest -- nicknamed "Seniorcrest" because it attracts so many seniors, Castleberry said with a chuckle -- is long enough to be challenging, but not so long as to be daunting to older golfers. Likewise, there are terrain changes, but never so severe as to be either unpleasant or uncomfortable.
Terrain, in fact, can be more difficult for older players than actual distance.
"It's a heck of a lot easier to walk on flat ground for a couple of hundred yards instead of 100 yards up a steep hill or even down a steep hill," Castleberry said. "And it's a lot easier to play on flat ground, too."
When mobility becomes an issue, older players sometimes opt for golf carts. Still, during the wet months of winter and early spring many courses restrict carts to the cart paths, "so you're still doing a fair amount of walking" from the cart to the middle of the fairway and back again, Castleberry said.
And here's another factor. Some courses might simply be too challenging for older golfers, even if they play from forward tees.
"Let's face it," Castleberry said, "seniors don't hit it as far and they don't hit it as high. So if you're a senior, it's a lot harder to hold these greens or carry these big ravines or big ponds."
"As we all get older, we tend to hit the ball shorter," said Randy Puetz, head pro at Nile Country Club in Mountlake Terrace. "Here (at Nile CC), we realize that we appeal to seniors and the ladies. So if you hit the ball 300 yards, you're probably not going to enjoy it here. But if you hit the ball 175 yards, this a good course for you."
Lastly, cost is a big issue for many seniors, particularly those on fixed incomes who cannot afford to pay premium prices for golf. So a course that's easy on the body and similarly easy on the wallet will likely attract many older golfers.
"Seniors are always looking for a good price," Puetz said. "They're going to hunt around and find the best deal they can, even if it means they have to travel a ways. So price is key."
Snohomish County offers several courses of moderate length and topography for senior golfers. Cedarcrest and Nile are excellent choice, as mentioned, but so are Lynnwood Golf Course, Snohomish's Kenwanda Golf Course and Flowing Lake Golf Course, and Arlington's Gleneagle Golf Course.
Everett's two public courses are longer, but very manageable for seniors from forward tees. And both have satisfactory terrain for older golfers, not to mention affordable prices.
Lastly, the county offers several nine-hole courses that are ideal for seniors. They include Mountlake Terrace's Ballinger Lake Golf Course, Monroe's Blue Boy West Golf Course and Woodinville's Wellington Hills Golf Course.
All the following courses have discounted rates for seniors. They all have power and pull carts to rent.
Cedarcrest Golf Course
6810 84th St. NE, Marysville; 360-363-8460
Cedarcrest has undergone considerable change in recent years, including drainage improvements that have helped make the course much drier and more playable than in years past. Cosmetic changes have also enhanced the appearance of the course significantly. Though not long, Cedarcrest is a nice challenge for any golfer.
Flowing Lake Golf Course
5001 Weber Road, Snohomish; 360-568-2753
Scenic Flowing Lake has a tight, tree-lined front nine, while the back nine is more open. The quiet, peaceful course has hills and 12 ponds.
Gleneagle Golf Course
7619 E. Country Club Drive, Arlington; 360-435-6713
Gleneagle is not a long course, but the fairways are tight and there is water on all but three holes, making precise placement a must. The course does not have many hills, so it is very walkable and scenic.
Kenwanda Golf Course
14030 Kenwanda Drive, Snohomish; 360-668-1166 or 866-300-1166
A fairly open course on rather hilly terrain, Kenwanda drains well and is a good course to play in rainy months. There are just two water hazards and there is bunkering behind many greens.
Legion Memorial Golf Course
144 W. Marine View Drive, Everett; 425-259-4653
Legion Memorial, Everett's original municipal course, underwent a major reconstruction several years ago and the improvements have made it one of the better municipal courses in the Puget Sound area. Legion Memorial is also under new management this year, with Premier Golf handling the operation.
Lynnwood Municipal Golf Course
20200 68th Ave. W., Lynnwood; 425-672-4653
Lynnwood, adjacent to Edmonds Community College, is short and tight. Accuracy is a must on this tree-lined course, which has excellent drainage and stays relatively dry during periods of heavy rain.
Nile Country Club
6601 244th St. SW, Mountlake Terrace; 425-776-5154
Scenic Nile was once a private course, but now is open to the public. Nile has many hills and tight fairways, and wayward shots are often punished.
Walter E. Hall Memorial Golf Course
1226 West Casino Road, Everett; 425-353-4653
Walter Hall has mostly flat and spacious fairways that are generally forgiving for the golfer with occasionally wayward shots. It is a comfortable and very popular municipal course, and is also one of the most affordable. Like its sister course, Legion Memorial, Walter Hall will be managed this year by Premier Golf.
NINE-HOLE COURSES
Ballinger Lake Golf Course

23000 Lakeview Drive, Mountlake Terrace; 425-697-4653
Ballinger Park continues to progress under operators Tyrone and Carol Hardy, who took over a few years ago after the course was closed for several months. Though not long, the course is moderately priced and convenient to folks who live in south Snohomish County.
Blue Boy West Golf Course
27927 Florence Acres Road, Monroe; 360-793-2378 or 800-833-6310
A short, challenging and scenic course. Eight of the nine holes have water. Young trees line the fairways.
Wellington Hills Golf Course
7026 240th SE, Woodinville; 425-485-5589
A longtime course near the very southern edge of Snohomish County, Wellington Hills has a rolling terrain and small greens. Only a handful of hazards, two bunkers and water on one hole come into play.
Click here for The Herald's guide to local golf courses.
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