Golf: Gold Mtn’s Olympic Course rated No. 5 among top munis in U.S.; Gamble Sands coming in 2014

Gold Mountain’s Olympic Course, one of the best values in golf, showed up on another top-10 list.

Joe Passov ranked the 10 best municipal golf courses in America for and the Olympic Course came in at No. 5.

Bethpage State Park Black in New York is the No. 1 muni, according to Passov. Nearby Chambers Bay in University Place outside of Tacoma, which will host the 2015 U.S. Open, is No. 2.

The rest of the list:

No. 3: Torrey Pines (South), La Jolla, Calif.

No. 4: TPC Scottsdale (Stadium), Scottsdale, Ariz.

No. 5: Gold Mountain Olympic Course, Bremerton.

No. 6: Wintonbury Hills, Bloomfield, Conn.

No. 7: TPC Harding Park, San Francisco

No. 8:  Butterfield Trail, El Paso, Texas

No. 9: Desert Willow (Firecliff), Palm Desert, Calif.

No. 10: Pacific Grove Golf Links, Pacific Grove, Calif.

While we’re at it, if you find yourself in San Diego and looking for a course, try the picturesque and unique Mt. Woodson Golf Club, about a 45-minute drive out of the city. It’s a target-style design surrounded by large boulders, ponds and has plenty of rugged terrain. We went to and got a tee time for $19 with cart on a sunny weekday afternoon last week. I lost count of my lost balls and didn’t bother adding up my score, but I still enjoyed the beauty of the place, which included a long wooden bridge and dramatic hillside holes. We played from the white tees. From the blues, it would be a beast. Of course, I can make any course three times as difficult as it is supposed to play.

And I’m looking forward to playing the No. 10-rated course on the above list. I’m taking my mom back to her hometown of Monterey, Calif., in December and I hope to get in a round at Pacific Grove Golf Links, a poor man’s Pebble Beach. It’s been highly recommended.

I didn’t make the trip, but 18 members of the Northwest Golf Media Association recently were the first to play Gamble Sands, a course outside of Brewster that’s scheduled to open in August of 2014. Designer David McLay Kidd hosted the excursion. Here’s some of what NWGMA secretary Craig Smith wrote after the visit:

Gamble Sands is designed by Scottish native Kidd whose resume’ includes Bandon Dunes, Huntsman Springs in Idaho, Tetherow in Oregon and the Castle Course in St. Andrews, Scotland.

                “This is unadulterated golf from beginning to end,” said Kidd of his latest course. To watch Kidd give his introduction of the course to the gathered media next to the driving range, click here.

                The course is built on property owned by the Gebbers family. The course name (suggested to Kidd by NWGMA member Tony Dear) honors the first settlers (the Gambles) of the land of what became the Gebbers family.

                The Gebbers are now in their fifth generation with roots back to the 1880s in Okanogan County. The family owns more than 100,000 acres, and are among the world’s largest growers of apples and cherries.

                The Gebbers view golf courses as a way to bring more tourism, employment and diversity to their community.

                Cass Gebbers told NWGMA members at a post-round dinner Thursday, “It was a bit emotional to see you guys tee it up, after so many years of planning and building this.”

                The dinner was one of many hospitality gestures extended by the Gebbers family during our stay.

                A major figure in the project is *Orrin Vincent. It was Vincent who told Cass, “I know a guy (Kidd) who can build you guys a course.”

                The family had started construction of a Perry Dye course at a site on a hill overlooking Brewster before the recession hit in 2008.  Three holes were finished before work was suspended. The priority now is to open the Gamble Sands course next summer.

                The possibility exists that within five years the Dye course will be completed and open and there may even be a new hotel next to it.

                Vincent envisions Brewster as a golf destination similar to Bandon, Ore., and Sand Hills Golf Club in Mullen, Neb.  He mentioned that the Brewster airport has a 5,000-foot runway for fly-in golfers.

                More on Gamble Sands:  Links course. . . . No homes or highway noise. . . . Grass is predominately fescue. . . .  Course is built entirely on sand, hence the name Gamble Sands. . . . Great views of the Columbia River on 12 holes. . . .  No trees. . . . Player-friendly as it is hard to lose a ball and many of the contours aid scoring . . . . Can play as long as 7,305 yards or as short as 4,920. . . . . Course will be rated by the WSGA in October. . . . Course will be open to the public but memberships are available. . . . Green fees have not yet been determined.

*Orrin Vincent represents OB Sports, the company that  built and opened Trophy Lake Golf & Casting in Port Orchard. Oki Golf bought Trophy Lake in 2005 from Heritage Golf. Heritage purchased the golf course in 2003 out of the bankruptcy of OB Sports. Trophy Lake opened in 1999.







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