The State of Golf in Seattle

Categories: Blog

The First Tee of Greater Seattle teaches golf and life skills to 1,500 local youth on Seattle’s municipal golf courses each year, and more than 2,000 county-wide. Without the four Seattle facilities (Jefferson Park, Jackson Park, West Seattle GC and Interbay), that kind of impact is not possible. And it’s not just the youth who are playing these golf courses. It’s YOU, as well!

With growing pressures from housing affordability and urban land use, city officials are in the process of assessing the value of the approximately 500 acres of park property designated for golf. There is no current plan or proposal to re-purpose any of the four golf properties, but if they determine that these public assets could be put to better use, we may see something emerge in the near future. Our goal is to help our elected officials understand the inherent and irreplaceable value of these golf courses… and you can help!

What are your best memories from the City of Seattle municipal golf courses, including Jefferson Park, Jackson Park, West Seattle, and Interbay?

Share your stories with us and your local leaders…

Post on social media (tag #SeattleGolf)
Send us an email
Contact the City Council
Tell your friends!

The First Tee of Greater Seattle

“A Bold New Vision for Seattle’s Golf Future”
August 19, 2019

Read Article

“The Battle of Seattle”
August 19, 2019

Read Article

“Cliff Avril and Jason Puckett welcome on Dan Wartelle, The First Tee of Greater Seattle’s Executive Director, and Bill Schickler, Premier Golf’s President, to discuss the meaning and impact of municipal golf in Seattle”
July 23, 2019

Listen to Podcast

“Seattle considering what to do with 4 public golf courses and 528 acres of green space they cover”
June 6, 2019


“What’s the Future of Golf in Seattle?”
April 18. 2019


“Strategic Business Plan for the Future of City of Seattle Owned Municipal Golf Courses”
March 20, 2019


Read the stories below, and add your own!

40 responses to “The State of Golf in Seattle

  1. My name is Alex, and I am a senior at Redmond High School. Golfing at Seattle’s public courses has been a highlight of my growing up in the Seattle area. One of my very first rounds of golf happened when I was in sixth grade at Interbay Golf Course with my dad. Additionally, my very first competitive tournament (under the Washington State Junior Golf Association) was at West Seattle Golf Course. Since then, I have turned into a competitive golfer, and The First Tee of Greater Seattle has helped in my development as such. I started participation in The First Tee in eighth grade, when I took classes at the Crossroads par three course. From my first year of high school on, I participated in classes at Jefferson Park as part of The First Tee’s ACE group. Not only have I learned to golf during those classes at Jefferson Park, but I have learned to develop my character under The First Tee’s teachings on the Nine Core Values. I have made some of my closest friends through these golf classes. Thus, it can be seen that some of my best childhood memories were made through Seattle’s public golf courses. If the city of Seattle decides to plow through these golf courses for housing, others would not be able to develop the same fantastic memories that I did at these golf courses. And for that reason, I implore the City of Seattle to keep these beautiful golf courses open.

  2. Perfect. I truly would hate if the city succeeds and takes one or more of the courses away. I literally never meet any of the people I meet at golf courses and I enjoy them very much.

  3. I second the point about learning life skills. It’ll be incredibly short-sighted if the city hall doesn’t take that into consideration. These life skills can go a long way in children’s lives and help them to make better choices in the future. The perception that golf is an elitist sports couldn’t be further from the truth as The First Tree has demonstrated over the years.

  4. Hi!
    I’d like to share a little bit about my experience golfing at Jefferson with The First Tee.
    Growing up I had tried nearly every sport there was, although I never really enjoyed any of them enough to stick with them or play on my own time. After years of hearing about The First Tee from my siblings and parents, I finally decided to give golf a try my junior year of high school and it honestly changed my life. Jefferson is not just a golf course to me, it is a community of people who are passionate about golf and want to support others along their journey. While I have gone to other driving ranges and courses over the last few years, none of them give me the same feeling that I get when I play at Jefferson. It brought my siblings and I together and I have met some wonderful people through it. The familiarity, the amazing staff and coaches, and the support and values that make Jefferson what it is is something I hope more people can come to experience and appreciate and that I can continue to come back to for a long time.

  5. Hi I’m a member of the First Tee and am writing because I hope that Jefferson stays a public golf course to everyone. I have now been a member for 6 years and love the First Tee and Jefferson golf course. I always go out and play golf with my siblings and play there too with my high school golf team. If Jefferson wasn’t around, I would not be able to play golf because my family wouldn’t be able to afford private golf courses. Golf is the only sport I play and I really enjoy it. It helps me mentally and physically and I’m very thankful we have Jefferson golf course and the First Tee.
    Thank you.

  6. Hello!
    I’ve long been passionate about this topic (and it’s many layers/complexities) and would love to get plugged in, either through First Tee or just as a concerned citizen. Can you offer any suggestions on ways to get involved (other than posting to social media and contacting city council)? I’d also love suggestions on how to stay better informed about the issue. I’ve found it difficult in the past to stay informed about community meetings, report release dates, etc.


  7. Thank you for sending this!
    Those of us in Shoreline near Jackson Park heard about this through the Nextdoor app
    Very disappointed in the greedy developers and corrupt Seattle city council for selling us out!
    Please respond because we need green space once it’s gone it never comes back!

  8. Here are the results of my own public-benefit survey conducted during 80-plus rounds of golf at Seattle’s Jefferson Park Golf Course over the past two-year period:
    There’s a near perfect blend of races at the facility;
    There’s a near perfect blend of the rich with the not-so-rich;
    There’s a near perfect blend of the young and old, male and female.
    Who’d be crazy enough to give that up?

  9. Watching the local news the other night sent shock waves through my family. It is hard to believe the City of Seattle is even investigating alternative use for the municipal golf courses. Our family golfs at Jackson most every weekend. The golfing gives us quality time to build lasting memories with our children. To help raise and influence them to be good citizens through communications on the course. To set goals, build a plan to achieve the goals, and finally accomplish the goals gaining that needed confidence.

    My son was in the first tee program at Jackson and he is highly motivated to improve his golf game through weight training in the off season. A healthy body is a healthy mind. We have seen so many grand parents golfing with their grandkids laughing and having fun on the course.

    The City of Seattle should visit these courses and see for themselves the joy in all of the participants eyes.

    Please let us know what we can sign or how we can help avoid a tragic, irreversible decision that could be made by this out-of-touch Seattle City Council.

  10. Seattle cannot take away our municipal golf courses!
    Youth golfers get reasonable rates and most
    Kids start at municipal courses
    Golf teaches ethics honesty and trust
    Golf teaches people to rely on themselves to solve problems and be honest
    We don’t need more dog parks we have plenty
    This will not solve house pricing in Seattle
    The homeless problem in Seattle in not really a homeless problem it is a drug and vagrant and mental illness problem
    Each person needs to be triaged for their specific problem and then help solve that root cause !

    The first tee is a great program to develop our youth……..that will help kids develop into responsible adults that won’t become drug users and vagrants

    Protect golf in Seattle!

  11. Golf was my “ticket”

    In those days for us it was more of a” hit and giggle”. It was a great way to get outside and enjoy the fresh air while getting some well-appreciated exercise, pushing our golf carts 18 holes and keeping pace with the foursome ahead.

    We were twenty-something corporate sales reps, working for different companies, spending our days driving up and down I5 and I405 chasing sales leads, responding to customers’ requests and dedicated to jumpstarting our careers. We were unattached, no boyfriends, no husbands, living far from family and unconnected to our community. These corporations we worked for selected us from the pile of applications, trained us, plucked us from our deeply rooted connections of home, and transplanted us into the great proving ground of a city 5X larger than the one we left. It soon became evident that all work and no play is a road to nowhere. We needed friendships and connections. But how does one meet new friends in a new city while working hard to advance a corporate career? For me the answer to that question was “golf”. Seattle Public golf was my “ticket” to new friendships in a new city.

    I was fortunate to meet a few young women at a trade show and once we discovered that we all owned a set of golf clubs, we agreed to play at a different Seattle public golf course each Friday. This was our only affordable option for a game of golf at that stage in our careers. Private clubs were inaccessible to us and Seattle Public Golf courses suited us just fine. We took turns setting up the tee times at Jackson, Jefferson and West Seattle. When only two of us could make it, the starter filled our foursome with two random golfers. We welcomed the new faces because after all, it was another chance to meet new people and another chance to become more connected with our new community. It was the best four hours of my week, walking 18 holes getting to know other friends while chasing that little white ball all over Seattle’s beautiful green-scape. I was soon feeling “connected” which is what golf does for us. For me, Seattle Public golf was where I forged my lifelong friendships and became connected to Seattle. Today we still golf together, albeit less frequently, as our regular golf partners now are husbands and sons and daughters.

    Seattle Public golf courses are important to all of us. We all need connection. Golf is uniquely a game where you can expect to meet strangers in a random pairing created by the starter. However, you can always be guaranteed to have at least one thing in common with these strangers; a desire to play golf. Seattle Public Golf courses are where the young play with the old, where the skilled golfer mentors the beginner, and where all races and people of different economic levels meet to enjoy the game of golf together, united, as a community. Golf is a game where you can, in a matter of hours, turn shallow acquaintances into deep lifelong friendships. As for me, I’m glad I had my “ticket” and am grateful for the friendships I made playing Seattle Public Golf.

  12. Hi, my name is David, and my family of 4 live in Queen Anne. We feel extremely fortunate that we can access weekend free golf lessons at Interbay to introduce our kids to golf. Plus we participate in the amazing First Tee Program at Jefferson.

    It’s incredible to see the diversity of kids in the program from gender to ethnicity. I think it teaches my daughter sportsmanship, focus, and leadership. Our son is not enrolled in it too. It’s a gift that I’m grateful we have public access to and hope to maintain that for my children and theirs.

    Please let me know if you need any more context and thank you for reading my family’s access to the great Seattle public golf facilities.
    To happier employees,

  13. I love this golf community. Jefferson Park driving range was where I first learned to play golf. The older golfers were always helpful and encouraging and they made it fun. 20 plus years later and you still can see some of the same faces, coming here enjoying each other and GOLF!

  14. Please don’t take away the golf courses. Some families might have valuable memories there. Taken the courses away would be like taking a piece of them. Think before you act. 🙂

  15. The golf courses are so important to my improvement! I played golf for 3 years, and living in the Seattle area, I need the theee courses to stay open to socialize and participate in the First Tee. Over 1500 students of The First Tee will he affected by the closure after all!

  16. I have played gold since I was 8, specifically with the First Tee. I learned life skills and how to swing a gold club, not an easy task. I would say that gold and The First Tee has made me know who I am, a kind-heart, confident women who is honest, courtesy and POSITIVE. Without the First Tee, I wouldn’t have loved my first job and stuck with it, I wouldn’t have the bond I have with my dad or my second family, the rest of the staff, Evan, Josh, Ben, Cal, Chris e. Or Chris V. or Shelby or Heidi. All these people have seen me grow physically and helped me grow emotionally. I am so grateful for all them more than they know. I am so lucky to be on the team and them to be on mine.

  17. Please take time out of your day to spend time at one of these courses. You will see a diverse group; all ages, all races, all sexes enjoying the healthy hobby of golf. Do not make an uneducated decision without engaging socially in this enviroment.

  18. Please don’t fear up those golf courses because everyone will be sad, very sad. Help us be confident, help us persevere and build our future, please help us save the golf course!

  19. Golf has changed my life because of public courses. I have more confidence and it has become my favorite sport. Pleas don’t take away the golf courses

  20. In Golf,
    * We have fun.
    * We have a good time.
    * We have our laughing moments.
    * We have our embarrassing moments.
    * We learned ~LIFE SKILLS.~
    * We meet friends.
    * We play it because we have passion for it

  21. Jefferson Park and First Tee are vital to the community. Green space that brings people together can’t be lost!

  22. Keep the Golf course! We love it and like to play on it. Jefferson is where I swung my first golf club. It is very special to some people.

  23. My name is Marcus and I am 7 and I love golf. Do not close Jefferson. This place is needed by the community. My mom learned how to play here and now it is my turn.

  24. Public golf offers a safe and pleasant past time for all ages. The green open space it preserves for our city and county l, helping clean the air for every resident. Please keep our green spaces green, and maintain this safe option for kids to learn life lessons. Thank you!

  25. Golf has changed my life. It would be really sad to see many golf courses dissapear. PLEASE keep the golf courses!!!

  26. It isn’t possible to put into words how golf has affected and influenced my life. All the experiences and moments when I am at the golf course are irreplaceable. It is a safe haven for many people who consider it a second home.

  27. I got my first ever sports win was at Jefferson. I feel/felt so proud to be a part of this community.

  28. Remember the 1500 kids who learned social skills while playing golf at the seattle courses. Also remember the thousands of seniors who play these courses.

  29. I recently started to golf and I would love the opportunity to play these courses. I hope to visit each and every one in Seattle.

  30. Seattle city golf courses is very important to me because I have the chance to learn and practice the life skills and core values: respect, courtesy, responsibility, honesty, sportsmanship, confidence, good judgment, perseverance, and integrity. Thanks the first tee program for giving me the opportunities in playing a sport!

  31. Seattle city golf courses is very important to me because I have the chance to learn and practice the life skills and core values that I can’t learn at school. Thanks the first tee program for giving me the opportunities in playing a sport! I was able to play golf and go to the games.

  32. My family moved to Seattle during the fall of 2018. It was a rough transition for me. Joining the First Tee and being able to play golf at Jefferson Park and Foster Golf courses helped me to get new friends. I am at the golf course at least three times a week. It is my third place (after home and school).

  33. Seattle golf courses are important to me as Jackson Park is where I learned to golf through the First Tee Seattle! Josh and the other coaches have taught me the basics, but they have also made me more confident and feel good about myself. I love that the Seattle public courses and the First Tee allows me to play with other girls and make friends. It is so much fun! I now compete in golf tournaments around the country, and this summer I will play at Pinehurst in the US Kids World Championship. I am very excited and a little nervous. Thank you Seattle public courses and the First Tee!

  34. It gives me an opportunity to be outdoors and disconnected from electronic devices. I get exercise to benefit my health and fresh air for my lungs (if no fire smoke). Without golf courses, I won’t be able to participate in organize sports, such as golf, which I really enjoy. Plus, my favorite thing about playing golf is spending time with my daddy! He is the best!!

  35. I love the Seattle Golf courses because it where I learned how to play golf and my family has putting competitions at Jackson all the time. I always beat my brother.

  36. I started playing golf at the age of seven at Jefferson golf course through The First Tee of Greater Seattle. Eventually, I also joined the LPGA USGA Girls Golf. When I started playing golf at Seattle public golf courses, it helped me build my confidence, discipline, life skills as well as build friendship and connections with other people from different walks of life. Having the chance to play at these golf courses encourages kids like me to be physically active, stay out of trouble and allows me to have an active lifestyle and maintain good health as well as the ability to be proactive in the community and be able to give back. The First Tee of Greater Seattle and LPGA USGA Girls Golf are both incredible programs that are a big part of my young life and the Seattle public golf courses have provided the opportunity for me to play golf at an affordable cost. Coming from a middle class family, I wouldn’t have played golf without the availability of these pubic golf courses. These affordable golf courses mean a lot to me and are like my second home.

  37. My name is Esther, I’m 12 years old and been home-schooled all my life , before First Tee I never knew anything about golf and golf courses, then once I’ve been playing and visiting a lot of golf courses in the Seattle area, I saw how beautiful and clean it is , I see the views of our city in different angles of point of view. I see families playing together as a team playing together and enjoying themselves . I see different age group of children and teenagers, grandparents aunt’s and uncle’s enjoying to be outdoors then playing video games. At the golf course we are like family we all use the core values we learn which we even apply to our daily lives, this values are, Respect, Honesty, Sportsmanship, Courtesy, Integrity, Responsibility, Judgement , Perseverance and Judgement. It is really important to keep the golf course. In Seattle because it will help the youth like me to be a better and responsible citizens in the future because we learn this core values and by playing golf we need this golf courses. I wish that the golf course will not be taken away from the youth like me. If you do where else can we be . Thank you for reading.

  38. Imagine a green open space dotted with patches of trees, with birds chirping, and people walking along leisurely, enjoying a fun game of golf with family and friends. Golf courses feel like an oasis in the city to me. Unlike baseball or soccer fields, there’s no loud cheering or music sounding, but it’s sprinkled with small gatherings of people strolling along, talking and building relationships while going after the same targets together. The courses may be of a quiet existence but it’s part of the soul of a city. Together with other robust games like football and baseball, golf helps build the character of a city, making it more wholesome and gentle. The public golf courses are where people from all walks of life can come together to relax and connect after a stressful day by playing golf in a quiet but immersive environment, interacting with nature and each other. Here, golf is accessible to all. You could be a five year-old beginner learning golf with your parents, or a 70 year-old enjoying a friendly competition with your buddies. You can play with two clubs or a full set, there’s no one to judge you. There is no membership fee. Here also lies the possibilities for tomorrow, where youth from different backgrounds can dream of one day becoming the next Tiger Woods, and maybe something more.

  39. My first encounter with golf was at a nearby park. I was 7 years old and saw some kids taking classes at the public course. Immediately, I saw that it was a lot of fun. My parents aren’t golfers, and we don’t live next to a golf course, but thanks to the First Tee and Girls Golf programs held at public golf courses, I’ve been able to learn and enjoy this sport till today. Golf, to me, is an escape. Away from the hustle of life, away from the busy homework and social media. At the golf course I’ve made new friends and learned to be more resilient. I’ve learned to respect others, nature and myself, how to set goals, and also to stay calm and have fun. While exercising, I’ve had time to talk with my teammates, celebrate a great shot and laugh at a bad one together. At the same time, the peace of the golf course gives me a chance to think and relax. I’ve built character by putting into practice sportsmanship, honesty, and responsibility. I think these are all possible because of the public golf courses, where people of all ages – players of different levels, rich or poor – can come together and enjoy a game of golf in a causal and inclusive environment. Someone once said, “I’ve learned more on the golf course than I have in any classroom.” It’s true the golf course is a big classroom in itself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *