Typically, when one thinks “golf vacation,” thoughts of tropical breezes and rows of palm trees may come to mind. How about massive snow-capped peaks, towering spruce trees and even moose, fox or black bear? These are all part of the unique Alaska experience of playing golf in Anchorage.
The golf season may be shorter, but the day is long in the summer. It’s common for tee times to begin at 5 a.m. and run until 10 p.m., from May to mid-October. And flashlights are not needed when the seasonal twilight illuminates the links. Green fees are reasonable in the Anchorage area with discounts available for seniors and children and special twilight rates for tee times after 8 p.m.
The Anchorage Golf Course lies at the base of the sprawling Chugach Mountains. Views from the course include the colossal Chugach Mountain Range to the east and spectacular views of the city skyline floating on the waters of Cook Inlet to the west. On a clear day, the spectacular Denali– located 140 miles north – can be seen capping the sky. Par for the course is 72, which is average for courses on the PGA Tour. The fairways consist of rolling hills that conceal steep-sided, deep bunkers and the occasional challenge of giant Alaska boulders. Water hazards are seasonally peppered by flocks of Canada geese. The fairways are lined with tall trees and thick underbrush that often reveal the cities most regular residents: moose, red fox, eagles and occasionally a glimmer of black and brown bears. They add a whole new dimension to course hazards!
Moose Run Golf Course is the northernmost 36-hole golf facility. The Creek Course is the most challenging in the state with golfers facing open fairways, trees, doglegs, bunkers and maybe a moose or two on this hilly course. It’s also the longest golf course in Alaska at 7,324 yards, and has the longest single hole, the par 5 number 11 at 640 yards. The original Hill Course is a little shorter and better for the less experienced golfer. Either course, located on the Fort Richardson Army Base and open to civilians, offers the frontier experience with opportunities to spy any number of wildlife living among the forest, including brown and black bears, moose, lynx, fox and wolves. A driving range, club house, and golf shop with club rentals are all available.
The city of Anchorage also offers a public 9-hole course at Russian Jack Springs Park. This course is home to the Russian Jack Springs Junior Golf Association, a chapter of the First Tee program for anyone between the ages of 8 and 18 that teaches life skills through the game of golf.
Several additional golf courses can be found near Anchorage; the Mat-Su Borough and Kenai Peninsula have several courses.