In part one in the second year of this series reviewing golf courses around the region, Seattle Times golf writer Scott Hanson and golf writer emeritus Craig Smith stay local and play Jackson Park, a Seattle municipal course.

Before we start, we should make one thing clear: We both wanted to really like Jackson. We feel it’s an important asset for the city, and with the future of Seattle’s municipal courses in question, we hope it remains a golf course for generations.

That said, what’s a golf review if you’re not honest.

So here goes:

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First thoughts

Scott: It was nice to be back. I had memories of my best round playing for Rainier Beach High School at Jackson, but also ones of going through every ball in my bag about 15 years ago, the last time I had played it.

It’s a fun course (more so than I remembered), with several very good and varied holes, and tough enough to challenge very good players. The potential is there for it to be a top-notch public course, but to get there, the on-course conditions need to improve.

The good

Scott: The greens were in good condition, prices were very fair ($27 without cart before 8 a.m., my dad, a super senior at 76, was $15), and the double-decker driving range is excellent. Despite being near the freeway, it is a pretty quiet experience. The restaurant food got good reviews from the entire foursome.

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Craig: Bad shots on this course in north Seattle are punished and that’s the mark of a challenging course.  … There are some memorable holes, such as par-4s No. 3, No. 14, No. 16 and par-5 No. 12. … Greens were in good shape. … Nice variety of trees and chirping birds. Hard to believe at times you are in the city. Course is near I-5 but traffic noise nonexistent on most holes. … Sandwiches and hot dog in course restaurant were good. Beer was cold and coffee met our semi-high standards. … A 50-stall driving range opened on what was the 10th hole in 2015.

Seattle is considering what to do with the 4 city-owned golf courses, including this one — Jackson Park  in north Seattle. Interstate 5 is just above the course. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
Seattle is considering what to do with the 4 city-owned golf courses, including this one — Jackson Park in north Seattle. Interstate 5 is just above the course. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

The bad

Scott: The fairways need a lot of work. There is a real problem with weeds, and as much as I enjoyed the course, I couldn’t help but think how much better it could be.

Craig: Course starts with a challenging par-5 with water followed by a short par-3. That’s a recipe for slow play. … Par on back nine is only 34 because of changes made to accommodate the driving range. … Power lines cross in front of the 18th tee. (Tee shot must be taken again but no penalty). … Friend who plays Jackson regularly says turf can be dry and hard.

The best

Scott: One of the great things about the game is the time with old friends, and the opportunity to make new ones.

Our threesome was joined before the start by Song Yang, a businessman from Beijing, who in his down time was taking the bus to each of Seattle’s municipal courses, renting clubs, and getting in 18 (Jackson, by the way was his favorite).

My father and I had just returned from China, so we had an instant connection, while Yang was very interested in hearing about my 11-year-old daughter who was adopted from China at 10 months.

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Song joined us for lunch, and if I ever get back to Beijing, we’re playing golf at his club.

Observation

Craig: We are still adjusting to the updated rules of golf that took effect this year, allowing the flagstick to remain in the hole while putting. Part of golf etiquette always has been to pull the pin for other golfers in your group if you are nearest the flag and everyone is on the green.

Miscellany

Craig: One of state’s busiest courses. … Course opened in 1930. … Designed by Bob Johnstone and Frank James. … Facility includes a 9-hole par-3 layout. …  Course is managed by Premier Golf and maintained by City of Seattle.

Shot of the day

Craig hit a drive that went about 10 feet off the ground, hit a garbage can near the next tee box, then bounded back into the fairway.

Quote of the day

“That’s an EIGHT! on this hole!” – Scott, after butchering the par-3 17th hole. Craig: “Relax, that’s only five over par.”

Ratings

Scott: Didn’t love the fairways, but I sure like the course. 2½ stars.

Craig: It’s well worth playing, but wish it was in better shape. 2½ stars.

At a glance

Jackson Park Golf Course

(206) 363-4747; 1000 NE 135th St, Seattle, WA 98125

Opened: 1930
Par: 70 (men), 72 (women)
Tee boxes: Four, ranging from green, the shortest, to blue, the longest.
Rating/slope: Blue tees (Men – 69.3/121, Women – 74.9/129), White tees (Men – 67.4/118, Women – 72.6/126) Gold tees (Men – 65.2/111, Women – 70.0/120) Green tees (Men – 59.1/83, Women – 58.9/85)
Yardage: Blue: 6085 yards, White: 5613 yards, Gold: 5057 yards, Green: 3397 yards.
Rates: Variable, ranging from $25.50 to $38 for 18 holes for adults.

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