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GOLF COURSES IN ALASKA

It will be found that Alaska golf courses have the most abundant wildlife. The best golf destination in Alaska is in and around Anchorage, the state’s biggest city by far. With the Chugach Mountains on one side and Cook Inlet on the other, Anchorage is cradled by mountain and sea. Through the place isn’t overwhelmed by golfers, the short season, usually from May to September, weather permitting, makes for occasional crowds on some of the better courses. There are more than 35 golf courses, business and organizations around the state.

Eagleglen public Golf Course is on the Elmendorf Air Force Base, an 18-hole Robert Trent Jones layout. In the 1960s, he designed one of his typical layouts, with tricky greens protected by intricate bunkers. The course was named the best in Alaska six times by Golf Digest, the latest honor coming in 2001. There's a lot of water and a variety of bunkers protecting the greens and making the fairways interesting. A creek slithers through the back nine. The greens are small and fast and the fairways a combination of wide and narrow; the big hitters like the long par-5s. This is a military course with the public welcome. Greens fees range from $11 TO $22 for military and Department of Defense employees, and from $25 to $40 otherwise. The course also has frequent player cards at discounts. The Eagleglen Golf Course is open until midnight and beyond in certain periods of the summer, and there is a driving range and two practice greens.

Settlers Bay, in Wasilla, about an hour's drive out of Anchorage, is a par-72, 6,596-yard course that is flat with tree-lined fairways. It has arguably the best greens in Alaska, water on four holes and, with the heavy trees, some of the biggest mosquitoes you'll ever have attack you: that's why they're called the state bird. It's a public course, popular with the locals, who seem to enjoy the back nine better than the front. It features both narrow and wide fairways, and like all Alaska courses, can be rough early in the season when you may still get a rogue snowfall. There are a few elevation changes, with raised tees and greens, and pond and marsh areas. The course lies in the shadow of 6,000-foot high Pioneer Peak.- Moose Run at Fort Richardson was built in the 1950s by military combat engineers, which probably accounts for its basic layout, open and straight. This military course usually finds its way into various rankings, with a lot of trees and little water. Some consider it the best course in Alaska. The front nine is hilly, flatter after you make the turn, with straight fairways throughout. The short, par-4 No. 7 carries over a ravine off the tee, and it features a great finishing hole: a dogleg left that can open up eagle possibilities if you can carry the trees and fudge the corner. The course was expanded in 2000, opening another 18-hole course designed by Nelson Hallworth. The Creek and Hill courses make it the northernmost 36-hole course in the United States.

Palmer Municipal Golf Course. Play this course just for the scenery. As you might expect from a course designed by a corporation (Iliad Corp.) it's an unimaginative layout, but it borders the beautiful Matanuska River and you get a chill from the wind coming off the Knik glacier. This is Alaskan farm country, about 42 miles outside of Anchorage. It's one of the most scenic in the state. Since there are so many private pilots in Alaska, there's a small airport nearby; call ahead to the pro shop and they' ll whisk you and your clubs right to the course. Green fees are right, too: about $20-$30.

Kenai Golf Course. This is another scenic course, especially if you make the drive down along the gorgeous Kenai Peninsula. Under-publicized course, but underrated as well. It's one of the most challenging courses in the state, an 18-hole, 6,641-yard gem where you can see abundant wildlife. It has narrow fairways and slow greens and features, like many courses, Alaska blue nugget grass. Built on marshland, it has one of the highest slope ratings in North America.

The Anchorage Golf Course is a William Newcomb-designed course with views of Mount McKinley. It has rolling fairways lined with white birch and spruce, with water hazards on four holes. Beware, it has some blind tee shots and water.
Chena Bend Golf Course, a newcomer built in 1996, was designed by Jerry Matthews. Golf Digest ranked the par-72, 7,012-yard course the second best in the state in 1997.

Russian Jack Springs is a personal favorite, for its eccentricities and the fact it has a great view overlooking Anchorage.

Bear Valley Golf Course is in Kodiak, home of the world's largest contingent of Kodiak bears. The nine-hole course is owned and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard. It is slightly hilly with small greens.

North Star Golf Club in Fairbanks touts itself as the northernmost golf course in the country. The links-type course has frequent sightings of moose, foxes and cranes. It has excellent greens and wide-open fairways.

Kachemak Bay Lynx Golf in Homer has a great view of Kachemak Bay. The trip to Homer alone is worth it. There is no dress code, it's open all year and ladies tee off with the men.

Mendenhall Golf Course is 10 miles from downtown Juneau. It's a nine-holer with views of the Mendenhall Glacier.
Birch Ridge in Soldotna is another nine-holer with views of active volcanoes, Mount Redoubt and Iliamna, which last erupted in 1990.