Golf Developers Dream Big

By Associated PressJuly 27, 2004, 4:00 pm
ROSLYN, Wash. -- Towering pine trees, empty mine shafts and rising slag piles serve as reminders of this town's history, while finely trimmed fairways and greens embody a dream of its future.

A mere 90 minutes east of Seattle and little more than a driver off Interstate 90, developer Lowe Enterprises and manufacturer Jeld-Wen are banking that this sleepy foothill town can become a serious golfer's resort destination.

'When you go into a project like this, there is a lot of risk involved,' said Bill Hunt, the on-site Managing Director of Suncadia Resort. 'But it's a risk well worth taking.'

In a dream that echoes in small towns around the rural West, developers hope to reap a share of the affluent Seattle vacationers who now travel to golf-oriented resorts in Oregon, California or British Columbia.

The resort opened to the public earlier this month with the first nine holes of a planned 54-hole golf complex open. All 18 holes of the first course, Prospector, designed by the Arnold Palmer Development Co., are scheduled to open around Labor Day.

It's the first stage in a multi-development plan that could include more than 3,000 residences, a hotel, village, conference center and numerous other recreational activities.
 
Developers are investing $80 million into the project just this summer alone and by 2014, Suncadia officials expect the property to be worth $1 billion in real estate alone.
 
The model for this dream is nearly 300 miles south: Sunriver, Ore., a hugely popular resort community with world-class golf courses, fancy boutiques and high-end restaurants.

'This place has the land and the landscape to be the next Sunriver,' assistant golf pro Jeff Gay said. 'But on our scale.'
 
The resort sits on a massive 6,000-acre plot as the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains begin their decent into the high desert of the Columbia Basin.

Yet, Roslyn and its neighbor five miles south, Cle Elum, would hardly be considered resort fodder. Roslyn's claim to fame is its stand-in role as the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska, in the television show 'Northern Exposure.'
 
The two towns' combined population was less than 3,000 according to the 2000 census.
 
Streets are lined with gas stations and small family restaurants that serve mostly as pit stops for passing travelers. Most shopping aside from groceries requires a trip over the mountains to the Seattle area or 30 miles southeast to Ellensburg.

Sunriver, meanwhile, is filled with stores, restaurants and recreational activities aimed at the non-golfers in the family. In winter, it's a popular base for downhill and cross-country skiers.
 
Suncadia will try to capitalize on winter as well, with cross country skiing on the property and downhill at Snoqualmie Pass 30 minutes away.
 
Upping the ante for the developers is the glut of golf courses in the country. More courses were built during the 1990s than any other time except the 1960s, according to Pellucid, an independent golf research company.
 
That was good news for players, who get more golf for less money, but it's put some developers out of business.
 
'In this region, we have an overabundance of golf courses -- to the players' benefit but the operators' detriment,' Pacific Northwest Golf Association executive director John Bodenhamer said. 'Most times, it's the second or third owner that ends up making a profit.'

The National Golf Foundation figures that roughly 90 golf courses in the United States have closed in the past two years, about double the average rate in recent years.
 
Even in such a bleak climate, success stories feed their dream. Courses like Pinon Hills in Farmington, N.M., and Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla., are consistently considered among the top echelon of public courses in the nation, despite their remote locations.
 
Savvy state tourism officials are promoting 'golf trails' -- multi-day expeditions to multiple courses -- in the unlikely locales of Alabama, Maine, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. Idaho recently announced its own golf trail.

The ultimate success might be Bandon, Ore., where Bandon Dunes and Pacific Dunes turned a small hamlet along the southern Oregon coast into a golfing destination on par with the revered Monterey Peninsula in California.
 
One form of insurance against the gamble is a big-name course designer. That's why Suncadia chose Palmer's company for Prospector and Tom Doak, the designer of Pacific Dunes, for the next 18 to be built.

'You search out for names that are attractive,' Hunt said. 'That's not to say some of the lesser-known designers are not good, but the Palmer name is recognized more. And Doak has become a hot name.'
 
Prospector is designed to flow with the natural terrain, with mounding and swales that mimic the surrounding mountains and valleys, said John Thronson, the on-site course designer.
 
Thronson said Prospector and Suncadia as a whole will stand out in Northwest golf, in part because of the massive scale of the place.

'What's unusual is the size of it,' Thronson said. 'It's difficult to zone something like this in the Northwest and I don't see something like this in the Northwest in the next 20 years.'
 
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.